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Photograph of Arthur ‘Art’ Jnr, Elizabeth and Mary Elizabeth Calwell that belonged to Arthur Calwell #2010-0260

Gelatin silver photograph in ornate cream timber frame. Photograph is of a boy, woman and girl on a street (Art, Elizabeth and Mary Elizabeth Calwell respectively).

History

This photograph is part of a collection of objects that belonged to Arthur Calwell, Australia’s first Minister for Immigration (1945-49) that were donated to the museum by his daughter, Dr Mary Elizabeth Calwell.

This photograph of Calwell?s son, wife and daughter was one of four framed objects displayed on his desk for the majority of his working life as a parliamentarian and demonstrates the importance of his family to him. Calwell married Elizabeth Marren in 1932, after the early death of his first wife. Although Mrs Calwell was not publicly very politically active, she was a key figure in supporting his political work for the rest of his life.

Calwell and Elizabeth had two children together: Mary Elizabeth (the donor of this collection) and Art. In 1948 at the age of 11, Art died from leukaemia. Calwell was devastated. He mourned his son for the rest of his life, but in the view of his biographer, Colin Kiernan, was spurred to redouble his efforts as an activist by the tragedy.

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Statement of values

This photograph is significant as part of the Arthur Calwell collection, which is comprised of a selection of objects that belonged to Australia’s first Minister for Immigration (1945-49), Arthur Calwell. The collection is significant as a whole because it tells a story about a leading Commonwealth parliamentarian of the middle decades of the twentieth century and includes highly personal material which tells of Calwell’s family life, his life-long involvement in Labor politics, and his personal religious convictions. The Arthur Calwell collection at the museum uniquely links the personal with the political, thus affording an opportunity to conduct research which tells a rounded story of this important parliamentarian.

This photograph is significant as one of four framed items kept by Calwell on his desk for much of his working life as an MP, three of them being family photos.

Reference:

Calwell, Arthur, Be just and fear not, Victoria: Hawthorn, 1972.

Kiernan, Colm, Calwell: a personal and political biography, Melbourne: Thomas Nelson, 1978.

  • Photograph of Arthur ‘Art’ Jnr, Elizabeth and Mary Elizabeth Calwell that belonged to Arthur CalwellPhotograph of Arthur ‘Art’ Jnr, Elizabeth and Mary Elizabeth Calwell that belonged to Arthur Calwell —

Details

Width 150mm
Height 203mm
Depth 25mm
Medium Photograph; timber; glass
Creator’s name Unknown
Date created Circa 1946