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Photograph of a young man in uniform (thought to be 'the one')

2012.0025.0017

Photograph of a young man in uniform (thought to be 'the one')

Object information

Description

Muriel McPhee kept two photographs and two rings on her dressing table. One photograph was of McPhee's brother Bill and the other was this portrait of an unknown AIF soldier, thought to have been her fiancé. One of the rings kept on her dressing table was a sweetheart ring with the colour patch of the 41st Australian Infantry Battalion. It's thought to have been a gift from McPhee's fiancé.

Physical description

A black and white photograph mounted on a piece of grey card. A thinner piece of a paper attached to the reverse of the card acts as a cover or flip. The photograph depicts a young man with dark eyes, oval face and protruding ears. He wears a military uniform. The tunic is buttoned to the neck with Australian Army rising sun badges on each lapel and he wears a slouch hat. There is some damage to the image below his left eye.

Statement of significance

This collection consists of a number of objects relating to the life of Muriel McPhee (1899 -1986). These include shoes, a hat and hatbox, gold bracelet and ring, mourning brooch, WWI era cards and photographs, lamp, women's clothing and undergarments, stockings, gloves, handmade post-partum abdominal binder and breast-feeding camisole, grocers invoices and hand-embroidered doily.

Between 1916 and 1918, Muriel McPhee made a collection of clothes and household items, termed a 'trousseau', in preparation for her expected wedding and subsequent married life. Tragically, Muriel's 'sweetheart' was killed during World War 1, robbing her of her dreams of love, marriage and children. In keeping with post-WWI mourning customs, which were marked by stoicism and reserve, Muriel wore black clothing and accessories and kept mementoes such as photographs and a ring as constant reminders of her loss and grief. Like many bereaved young rural women, the loss of her 'young man' resulted in Muriel taking on an increasing burden of farm work, which restricted her access to further education and social opportunities. At the same time, she strove through her personal appearance to meet social expectations of femininity, modesty and sexual attractiveness and contributed to community solidarity through her sustained friendships with close friends and neighbours.

Object information

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