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Quaker WW1 Travelling Peace Exhibition
Thursday 21 September – Sunday 1 October
Dissent and opposition to the war, and to preparations for war are highlighted in the WW1 centenary exhibition entitled: World War 1 – Quaker witness to peace and non-violence.
Australian historian Emeritus professor Jill Roe says:
Quakers have been vital to the peace tradition since the 17th century, and never more so than during and after World War 1. Their advocacy of peace and non-violence, and their work for postwar relief is as relevant today as it was then …
The emphasis on peacemaking provides a counterpoint to the centenary’s focus on the commemoration of military engagement, the appropriation of the memory of war, and the myth that our national identity was forged at Gallipoli and other WW1 actions.
The story of Quakers’ opposition to militarism, and their active role in the provision of relief to the victims of war in Europe during and after WW1 is told using carefully curated photography, written information, video footage and Quaker guides who can answer questions.
Quakers joined with many other people, some of faith and some not, who advocated for peace and opposed war and preparations for war. When compulsory military training for boys age 14 to 18 years was introduced in Australia under the Defence Act from 1911, Quakers were among those who refused training and were prosecuted, fined, and in some cases imprisoned in military barracks. At the time Quakers held that: Children ought not to be taught the necessity of war, much less its glory.
During WW1 Quakers were influential in opposing conscription. Despite considerable local and British propaganda, Australians rejected conscription for overseas military service at two referenda. The exhibition draws attention to the terrible consequences of war and illustrates Quakers’ continuing commitment to peacemaking, nuclear disarmament, and non-violent methods of solving conflict within and between nations.
The exhibition was displayed at the Quaker Meeting House in Sydney during NSW History Week in September 2014 and has since been travelling around the country.
Opening on United Nations Day of Peace, THURSDAY 21 SEPTEMBER from 4pm to 7pm. Opening event includes refreshments.
The formal opening program (5:30pm – 6:30pm) will include University of Newcastle PhD candidate Elicia Taylor speaking about her research on the First World War’s impact on Australian unmarried women, including commentary on anti-war activists such as Vida Goldstein and prominent Quaker, Margaret Thorp. The National Council of Women recently presented Elicia with the 2017 Australian History Award in recognition of her project’s significant contribution to war and gender history.
Well-known local singing duo Matthew and Kathy Clarke, who use their talents to highlight the need for peace, social justice, and environmental awareness will also be featured. Annie Rooke and Sheila Keane will speak briefly on behalf of local Quakers.
Exhibition continues daily 9.30am – 1.30pm, from Friday 22 September to Sunday 1st October