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National Museum of Australia

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Brown paper envelope with 'AIRGRAPH LETTER' printed in top right corner

1993.0075.0006.001

Brown paper envelope with 'AIRGRAPH LETTER' printed in top right corner

Object information

Physical description

Brown paper envelope with 'AIRGRAPH LETTER' printed in top right corner in black and the seal of 'POST OFFICE COMMUNICATIONS AUSTRALIA' in the top left corner. A window has been cut into the middle bottom part of the envelope to display the letter's address.

Statement of significance

The collection comprises ten items related to the work of Mrs Sheila Van Emden (nee Ferguson) in the Australian Women's Land Army (AWLA) and the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) during the Second World War. The items include Van Emden's AWLA uniform jacket and service record; and two aircraft models and an ashtray made by Van Emden in WAAAF engineering training.

As the Second World War intensified and the male labour force diminished, women began to work in munitions factories and other essential industries in roles previously held by men. This gradual extension of women's roles away from more traditional home bound activities caused considerable controversy, and had enduring effects on social attitudes. The WAAAF was the first of four Australian women's service organisations established in 1941, and within two years of its inauguration had 16,000 members. First joining the AWLA, Sheila Ferguson decided to join the WAAAF in 1943. After training in Melbourne, Ferguson was posted to the Service Flying Training School at Uranquinty, a station between Albury and Wagga, where she assisted with major aircraft inspections, involving the complete overhaul of engines, airframes, electrical instruments and guns, until the end of the war.

Object information

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