National Archives online exhibition provides a different take on aftermath of World War I

Media release: Friday, 9 November 2018

One hundred years ago, World War I ended. Guns were silenced and on the homefront there were tears of relief. It was over. Imagine you were there. How would you begin to transcend the devastation of war and build a new life?

A new National Archives online exhibition portrays 21 Australians who did just that. Who, by their resilience and a dogged determination, and despite the heavy burden of collective bereavement, re-established professional careers, or embraced the spheres of community and domestic life with new purpose.
1918: a different life sheds light on Australian social and political culture in the immediate aftermath of the war.

National Archives Director-General David Fricker says, 'On the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, we have drawn on our unique and significant collection to offer a new perspective on how the government resolved to help Australian Imperial Force (AIF) volunteers and their families navigate this uncertain world by offering financial, medical and vocational assistance.'

Private David Fletcher Jones, a Bendigo orchardist with an entrepreneurial streak, set his sights on establishing a travelling drapery business after he was discharged from the AIF suffering 'shell-shock'.

London prostitute Tilly Twiss married Australian Sapper Jim Devine and followed him to Australia, where she proved an astute investor and established a notorious yet profitable network of brothels across Sydney.

And Private Stanley Fowler, a labourer from Melbourne, received lifelong medical treatment that enabled him to excel in a creative career as a photographic surveyor despite his injuries.

1918: a different life offers a narrative that challenges the existing trend of focusing on the devastation of Australia's inter-war period.

Curator Dr Laura Cook says, 'There is no doubt World War I forever changed Australian society. However, using individual items from our collection – including repatriation, war service and immigration records, and copyright registrations – 1918 presents a new perspective on how Australians, both serving and civilian, found opportunities to rebuild their lives after the war.'

1918: a different life can be viewed on the National Archives' website:

Contact information

  • Michaela Forster (Assistant Director, Communications and Media)
    t (02) 6212 3723 m 0414 707373 e

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Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019