The Diary of Joseph Jenkins
Video about the original diaries of Joseph Jenkins, also known as the Welsh Swagman, who was an itinerant worker in the mid-1800s Victoria, particularly around the Castlemaine, Maldon area.
Jock Murphy of the State Library of Victoria, gives us an insight into the diaries.
My name is Jock Murphy. I'm the Collections Services Manager at the State Library of Victoria.
I'm going to tell you about the Libraries acquisition of the diaries kept by Joseph Jenkins, who was also known as the Welsh Swagman.
The particularly remarkable thing about the diary is that it provides an account of a casual and itinerant agricultural labourer, Joseph Jenkins, who came to Victoria in 1869 and lived here until 1894. He was working in Central Victoria particularly in the areas around Malden, Castlemaine and Ballarat during that period.
The diary provides a detailed account of a life that's often poorly recorded.
Most of the people who worked as farm labourers or in other unskilled jobs didn't have the literacy skills to write even a letter let alone a detailed day by day diary.
The diaries themselves are quite remarkable.
This is an example of one of his home made diaries.
Here you can see where it's suffered damage at some time in the past, a rat or a mouse or a possum has nibbled at the binding.
On at least one occasion Jenkins... hut was broken into and the diaries were scattered around on the ground outside the hut and this is an example of one of his diaries that, sadly, has become very wet at one time in it's past and therefore suffered mould damage.
Some diaries, like this example, were manufactured diaries which he would have bought in a shop... that's for 1874. This last example is another handmade volume created by Joseph and as you can see it has a canvas wrapper around it.
One of the things that excites people about the diaries is that researchers today can often find references to properties owned or operated by their forbearers and if we look at this example of a diary, each page has a note which records the property that Joseph Jenkins was working on and where it was.
Here we see, Victoria Hotel, Coghills Creek, Victoria. The day before he was at Mr Hawkins Hut, wherever that was.
Here we have Glendinning Farm at Kingston, which is near Ballarat.