#Acquistions – Lost Brisbane

Kay Cohen, Val Donovan, Ruth Kerr, Margaret Kowald, Lyndsay Smith, and Jew Stewart, Lost Brisbane and Surrounding Areas, 1861-1960 (Brisbane, QLD: The Royal Historical Society of Queensland with QBD Bookshop, 2014) and Lost Brisbane 2 and Surrounding Areas: The Later Years (Brisbane, QLD: The Royal Historical Society of Queensland with QBD Bookshop, 2016). As with many fields of history, arguably, one of the most popular types of books that pervade the field of urban history is the so-called ‘coffee-table’ books. These are large glossy books packed with images of a specific city that can often be found sprawled on someone’s coffee table. However, such books are not entirely devoid of academic value. Indeed, as Shane Ewen suggested, photography is one of the ‘sources’ that has ‘injected [urban history] with a critical mass and rich texture.’[1]

Moreover, as the authors of these volumes noted themselves (Lost Brisbane, p. 8), photographs are ‘important documents of social and topographical history and convey the actual feel and sense of place.’ While ‘actual’ might be verging on hyperbole, photography has become a useful source to map continuity and change within urban, and suburban, contexts. The Royal Historical Society of Queensland produced both of these volumes, and while the images in the first volume come exclusively from the Society’s collection, those in the second volume come from more diverse sources, including, for example, Brisbane City Archive. The photographs presented are diverse, and from my perspective, forms of transport and mobility are given good coverage.

Header Image: A tram enters Wickham Street from Breakfast Creek Road, Newstead on its way to Fortitude Valley, 1938. (Source: State Library of Queensland)

[1] Shane Ewen, What is Urban History? (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2016), p. 2.

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