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WWI Homefront History Digitised

By JOL Admin | 11 November 2013

Professor Raymond Evans' Loyalty and Disloyalty: Social Conflict on the Queensland Homefront, 1914-18, first published in 1987, has been digitised by the State Library of Queensland and is now available to read in full via our One Search Catalogue. We have also digitised this interview with Prof Evans talking about his homefront history in a recording made in 1990.

Much is known and celebrated about the exploits of Australia's soldiers during the Great War. Far less is understood of the society the diggers left behind and how the ordeal of waging war transformed it. In Loyalty and Disloyalty, Raymond Evans set out to penetrate the veneer of social solidarity to examine a society in which deep-seated social conflicts intensified under the stress of wartime conditions.

Why did Queensland come to be labelled 'the most disloyal State' in the Commonwealth? As the war dragged on, fears of invasion spread while outbreaks of violence against radicals and aliens multiplied. Socialist, industrial and pacifist campaigns intensified among an increasingly disaffected working class. As polarisation accelerated, loyalists among right-thinking citizens and returned soldiers mobilised to deal with sedition and perfidy. Republican, internationalists and trade unions became the targets for loyalist assaults.

In exploring these processes and revealing the way in which militarism, racism and empire nationalism came to dominate communities, Prof Evans shed new light on the conscription struggles, the formation and work of the returned serviceman's organisations, and the fate of the anti-war movement. Loyalty and Disloyalty, first published in 1987 and out of print for some time, is still the most extensive study of the Queensland homefront during the years 1914-18. The book is the published version of Prof Evans PhD thesis which can also be read online via the University of Queensland's Library Catalogue.

This compelling work will be the central text in a WWI reading group that we are piloting in 2014. Sessions will showcase the rich WWI collections of the John Oxley Library.

Simon Farley - Librarian, State Library of Queensland


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