Page Not Found – Melbourne’s history by the book

Oslo Davis_Page Not Found_editorialHow did you know who lived where, did what, and who was who before the days of the world wide web? By searching through a Sands & McDougall directory.

A new exhibition at City Gallery explores the wealth of knowledge stored in the famous Sands & McDougall Melbourne directory. Curated by arts journalist Andrew Stephens, Page Not Found unveils the history of the monstrous 3000 page plus directories, which date back to 1857.

Page Not Found features a near-complete set of the directories on display and gives people a rare opportunity to flick through copies.The show also includes images by Melbourne illustrator Oslo Davis, inspired by the wealth of historical information held in the vast collection.

Chair of Arts and Culture, Councillor Rohan Leppert said each directory is a step back in time.

“The Sands & McDougall Melbourne directory was the most reliable source of local information about people and places,” Cr Leppert said. “This exhibition unveils a very different Melbourne and shows how much the city has transformed over the last 150 years.”

Andrew Stephens spent hours going through the thousands of pages of Melbourne history stored in these archival gems.

“The directories’ aim was simple: to list the names and addresses of every Melburnian – that is, the ‘head’ of a household – and every trade and business. But it took a lot of work to execute a simple intention,” said Andrew Stephens.

“Compiling each edition was a huge undertaking. The listings were collated by walkers combing the suburbs and knocking on doors. Individual editions were 13 centimeters thick and weighed a couple of kilograms. They were printed every year – except for the combined wartime 1944-45 edition – until 1974, the 117th year of publication. I hope this show gives Melburnians an insight into a simpler, and very different, Melbourne.”

Page Not Found
City Gallery – Melbourne Town Hall, 110 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Exhibition: 20 August – 20 November 2014
Free entry

For more information, visit: www.citygallery.com.au for details.

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