Wednesday, 10 January 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 2 - favourite photo

I love this photograph of my grandmother, Agnes Campbell Thom, taken when she was, what we would call today, a teenager. Agnes was born on 4 July 1891. Agnes' father, James Campbell Thom was a solicitor who for many years held a high position in the New South Wales Civil Service. Consequently the family lived a comfortable lifestyle.

Unfortunately the actual date of the photograph is unknown but the dress and hairstyle suggest a young lady of the Edwardian period. What would the future bring? This small sepia photograph of Agnes looking directly at the camera suggests that she is confident and determined and ready to face what life has to offer.

Photographs can show different stages of a person's life and lifestyle.

This photograph was probably taken in the 1920s judging from the clothing and her short hair. By this time Agnes (known as Fairy) was the mother of two boys, Rex and Ken. She looks relaxed learning against the rock wall. On 29 January 1914, Agnes had married  journalist, JHR Moses (also known as Reginald or Reg or Mo). She was 22.  Her husband worked for a number of publications but is best known for his contributions to Smith's Weekly. Correspondence and research suggests that Reg and Fairy, to some extent, may have experienced Sydney's bohemian scene in the 1920s and early 1930s. (More information can be found in an earlier post.)

Some years later this photograph shows Agnes working in the Daily Telegraph Library. The photograph was possibly taken in the 1940s. Agnes is in the front on the right. Her husband had just started working at the Daily Telegraph when he died of pneumonia on 3 April 1936. It was the 1930s and Agnes needed employment so she accepted a position in the Daily Telegraph library. Agnes worked in the library for many years and eventually  had the role of supervising the other women working there.

Going back to the original photograph in this post, this young girl could not have imagined the changes in society and lifestyle she would witness and experience during her life-time including  World War I, the freedom of the 1920s, the challenges of the 1930s Depression, plus the early death of her husband then two sons serving in World War II. Not to mention changes in fashion - Fairy was always well dressed - music, transport, food and the beginnings of a multicultural community. Agnes died on 8 November 1974 aged 83.

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