Agents of Empire – book review

How E.L. Mitchell’s photographs shaped Australia
By Joanna Sassoon

For nearly 100 years, E.L. Mitchell’s emblematic photographs have shaped ideas about Australia. But who was Mitchell and why did he succeed above his competitors?

With unprecedented access to private collections and showcasing his extraordinary photographs, Agents of Empire charts Mitchell’s rise from his struggles as a migrant in New South Wales and Queensland to significant image-maker in Western Australia. It then follows the journeys of individual photographs across the world, and traces the stories behind the survival and destruction of parts of his archive.

Agents of Empire breaks new ground in showing ways that photographs can be used as historical evidence and how archives can shape our understanding of the past.I have justy finished reading this excellent new publication. It will be of great interest to anyone with an interest in the history of New South Wales and Queensland and Western Australia in the early 20th century. Ernest Lund Mitchell’s photographs are the most widely used in Western Australia newspapers and publication of the era.

The subjects of his photograph are wide and varied. 

Aboriginal people both in everyday clothing,
and dressed for  Corroborees.
Group Settlements
Timber Cutters
Pearling in Broome
Sapphire Mining in QLD
Farming- Fishing-
Copper Mining
Stations and Miners

These are but a very small selection from the book that may be of interest. The following are a few photographs taken in SouthernCross, Western Australia. These photographs featured in the Western Mail Newspaper.

Trucking Sandalwood Southern Cross 1909

Trucking Sandalwood, Southern Cross, Western Australia –  1909

Southern Cross Hockey Club 1909

Southern Cross Hockey Club, Western Australia –  1909

Aboriginal Camp Souther Cross 1909

Aboriginal Camp, Southern Cross, Western Australia –  1909

The book is available online @-

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My name is Moya Sharp, I live in Kalgoorlie Western Australia and have worked most of my adult life in the history/museum industry. I have been passionate about history for as long as I can remember and in particular the history of my adopted home the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia. Through my website I am committed to providing as many records and photographs free to any one who is interested in the family and local history of the region.

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