Wearing access: a story about open collections, a sewing machine and the nation’s secrets.

Presented by Bonnie Wildie
Tuesday 11:30 a.m.–12:25 p.m. in Green Theatre CB07.02.25
Target audience: Community


This presentation is a demonstration of what happens when you take inspiration from a 19th century dress, mix it with online guides about getting crafty with open GLAM collections, and add an invitation to get creative with some of the nation’s secrets. The “Press Dress”, worn by Matilda Butters in 1860s Melbourne, proclaimed the Liberty of Press at the time, and has, as time passes, become a time capsule that holds stories and histories from the period. The ability to wear history is an appealing and powerful notion. As the GLAM sector opens its collections and enables reuse, the ability to create powerful statements using historical documents is more readily realised. Online guides by digital humanists provide advice and guidance about accessing and reusing open GLAM collections in crafty and creative ways, utilising DIY culture and DIY tools for potentially subversive actions. An open invitation to reuse images of ASIO redactions provided an opportunity to utilise these DIY tools and in the process challenge the idea of access. This story begins and ends with a dress.

Presented by

Bonnie Wildie

Bonnie Wildie is an historian, librarian and archivist who is passionate about communicating history and heritage to the broader community. She also dabbles in the digital humanities, and searches for new and innovative methods that might challenge traditional notions of historical research and information access. Bonnie has worked at several of New South Wales’ premier cultural heritage institutions. Her research interests include the roles of women in Australian history, and local histories with a focus on uncovering the voices of minorities. She also makes dresses.