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Australian Children's Folklore Collection

The Australian Children’s Folklore Collection has immense historic and research significance as the pre-eminent collection of children’s folklore in Australia, and possibly the biggest in the world. It contains thirteen discrete collections documenting Australian childhood culture from an ethnographic perspective, and incorporates records in text, image, sound and 3D formats. It represents dominant, Indigenous and immigrant cultures, spanning 140 years, with specialised material from the 1950s and 1970s-80s.

The collection developed from research by Dr June Factor and Dr Gwenda Davey in the 1970s, and now consists of more than 10,000 card files and other documents listing children’s games, rhymes, riddles, jokes, superstitions and other kinds of children’s folklore, together with photographs, audiocassettes, videotapes, play artefacts and a number of specialist collections of children’s lore. The collection is utilised by scholars from a number of disciplines, writers and journalists, and those interested in childhood.

Inscription Number: #9

Year of Inscription: 2004

Physical Location: Museum Victoria

Slingshot made from tree branch

Slingshot made from tree branch, with cards recording children’s games and play from the Australian Children’s Folklore Collection

Circa 1980-1983

Wood, rubber, card

Photograph reproduced by permission of Museum Victoria

Boys playing marbles

Boys playing marbles, Dorothy Howard tour, Melbourne, 1954-1955

Girl playing Bridge or French Lace string gam

Girl playing ‘Bridge’ or ‘French Lace’ string game, Dorothy Howard tour, Melbourne, 1954-1955

Photographer: possibly Dorothy Howard

Photographic print

Photograph reproduced by permission of Museum Victoria

Dr Dorothy Howard

(1902-1996) was a children’s folklorist from the United States who travelled across Australia in 1954–1955 as a Fulbright fellow, collecting and documenting children’s games and verbal lore.