Stories of War - Sydney Teachers College Roll of Honour and Exhibition Panel

2 March 2016

The Sydney Teachers College exhibition panel was part of the Stories of War From the University Collections exhibition in the Fisher Library.
The Sydney Teachers College exhibition panel was part of the Stories of War From the University Collections exhibition in the Fisher Library.

Sydney Teachers College Roll of Honour

The outbreak of World War I resulted in an upsurge of patriotism throughout Australia, including among the staff and students of Sydney Teachers College. Eighty-seven students and two members of staff volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force.

The remaining student body engaged in patriotic support activities such as knitting socks; raising funds to purchase cigarettes, toiletries and other supplies; and packing parcels for dispatch to the troops. They also created a Roll of Honour listing all those from the College who had enlisted.

The Roll of Honour was designed by Mr JC Wright, a lecturer in art. By the war's end it comprised three linen panels on which the names of volunteers were embroidered in dark blue silk (the College colour) with, at the top of each, a pair of wreaths and at the foot the College coat of arms. The embroidery was done by the female students and staff in the art department.

Sadly Mr Wright, who enlisted in 1915, was killed in action in 1917 and never saw the result of his initiative.

The linen panels were framed behind glass and the Roll of Honour was unveiled (strangely by the Minister for Agriculture) in 1921 and hung in the College library. After more than 90 years on display its embroidered names and decorations are badly faded and expert conservation is required if it is to continue as a memorial to those from the College who served and, in some cases, died during World War I.

The preservation of this Roll of Honour is particularly important because it appears to be the only remaining embroidered World War I memorial in Australia. There was another one, in a church in a country town, embroidered with the names of local boys who enlisted, but it became tattered and was discarded some years ago when the church was deconsecrated and sold.

The Faculty hopes to have the embroidery assessed by conservators to determine whether or not it can be restored and if so, what the cost would be for the restoration.

Article by Neil A Radford (University Librarian 1980-96)

Sydney Teachers College Exhibition Panel

Although the Sydney Teachers College was not part of the University of Sydney during the war - they subsequently joined the University in 1990 - an exhibition panel was created to include the College as part of the Stories of War From the University Collections exhibition, which ran from April 2015 to January 2016 in the Fisher Library. The exhibition displayed materials primarily from the University's Archives and Rare Books and Special Collections Library with contributions from the Macleay Museum and the Faculties of Medicine and Education and Social Work.

The Sydney Teachers College panel was originally created to give context to the Roll of Honour embroidery that was on display and included photographs of some of the earliest College students who volunteered for active duty. The photographs were taken from the November 1915 war edition of The Kookaburra.

At the closure of the exhibition, the panel was donated to the Faculty of Education and Social Work to be displayed in the Dean's Unit of the Education Building.