Searching for Hector Thomson: Telling difficult family war histories

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Abstract

Australians sometimes portray family war stories through the lens of our celebratory Anzac legend. Yet family history can generate more inclusive, complex and challenging war histories. This chapter shows how Australian Repatriation Department files have transformed my own family’s war history. The “Repat” files illuminate the battles of the peace that were fought in Australian homes and hospitals after World War I. They show how damaged veterans sought support from the government, and how their desperation became more acute during the Depression of the 1930s. They suggest the emotional costs and consequences within families of the battles of the peace. They reveal contemporary medical understandings and prejudices about mind and body, and how doctors and other officials struggled to balance limited resources against increasing needs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMuseums, History and the Intimate Experience of the Great War
Subtitle of host publicationLove and Sorrow
EditorsJoy Damousi, Deborah Tout-Smith, Bart Ziino
Place of PublicationAbingdon Oxon UK
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter6
Pages99-122
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781000201246
ISBN (Print)9780367487546
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in First World War History
PublisherRoutledge

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