Objects of Substance: A Treasury of Material Culture at Girls Grammar

What is material culture and why choose this methodology to capture the essence of Girls Grammar?

As Henry Glassie elegantly argues, ‘studies focused on words, whether written or spoken, omit whole spheres of experience that are cumbersomely framed in language but gracefully shaped into artefacts.’

Art historian, Jules Prown, stated that material objects ‘help us discover the beliefs—the values, ideas, attitudes, and assumptions—of a particular community or society at a given time.’ We hope that Girls Grammar’s treasury will tangibly illustrate how material culture has created, sustained and enriched the culture of the School over the past 145 years.

It is our intention, as part of the School’s 145th Anniversary, to feature the BGGS Archives’ significant objects, locations and ephemera around the School and in future editions of BGGS News. These treasures and treasured places capture the essence of the Girls Grammar journey, from ‘an experiment’ founded in 1875 to one of Australia’s leading girls’ schools.

The criteria for our selection are:

  • Original physical object
  • Item used by/linked to the School, which illustrates our philosophy, history and ethos/culture
  • Not a person
  • No external awards
  • Examples from all three campuses

I hope that other valuable objects cherished by the Girls Grammar community will surface because of this project. I invite the BGGS community to share their discoveries and memories with the School by emailing pharvey-short@bggs.qld.edu.au.

The objects featured will also be on display at the School after their stories are published.

Mrs Pauline Harvey-Short
Manager, School History and Culture



Harvey-Short, P unpublished thesis 2014 pp24, 25.