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).
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.