Dr Linda Young loves history and storytelling, and her two passions have neatly coincided in her latest project – volunteering as part of OCAV’s My Life Story project.
Linda, together with other volunteers, is working closely with a number of residents at Rushall Park, helping them to record their memoirs through writing and photographs.
“Our life journey is an important part of who we are, and My Life Story is a wonderful way of helping residents preserve and share their memories and stories with family and friends,” Linda said.
Linda became involved with the project through volunteer Margot Yeomans, who has completed several biographies.
“I loved the idea of becoming involved and the chance to visit the village which I have always admired. So here I am setting off down another alley of history, the microhistory of a personal Australian story,” Linda said.
Linda’s career has focused on 18th and 19th Century Britain, specialising in domestic objects. She has been a museum curator and has taught heritage and museum studies first at the University of Canberra and Deakin University.
“The aim of my research into personal and household goods has been to further understand the colonial Australians who made, sold, bought and used them. My work addresses sociological values such as respectability, gentility, status and aspiration,” Linda said.
“I came to specialise in domestic materials, the objects of everyday life, such as furniture for particular purposes – beds and bed clothes, for instance, household equipment for cooking, eating, and cleaning, and personal goods from clothing and jewellery to toothbrushes.”
Her work has focused mainly on the 1800s in Australia – but the Australian colonies were part of the transnational network of the British Empire.
This work has resulted in three books and more than one hundred book chapters and articles in academic, trade and popular magazines.
“At the root of my work is finding more about how people put domestic objects to use in their lives. It investigates people living with and without the comforts, conveniences and burdens of consumer goods. Standards of domestic cleanliness make a good example of historical shifts in technology, practice and values, well within living memory,” Linda said.
Now retired, Linda continues her interest in history not only academically but also through listening and writing life stories.
“The Life Story project is awakening in so many ways. For me it is a reminder that we are all agents of history,” Linda said.
“We are individuals, as well as elements of social and cultural landscapes, which change through time. Each person’s experience worth recording for themselves, their families and future generations.”