Intern Charlottle Ford explores our Britt family collection

Emma Britt (Gold Museum collection, 2016.0068.84)

Emma Britt (Gold Museum collection, 2016.0068.84)

I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to intern at the Gold Museum for two weeks. I was given the task of helping research the Britt family collection.

John and Mary Britt migrated from Ireland to Ballarat in the 1860s. They became farmers in Dunnstown after purchasing 10 acres for £10 in 1861. That land has stayed within the family ever since.

It was interesting to discover that even today the land is now the location of the Inglenook Dairy, which is a major independent dairy brand.

Even more amazing is the fact that the Britt family now has around 1,000 living descendants, with many living in the Ballarat region.

John and Mary went on to have seven children, however it was Edmond, Cornelius and John that survived. Each of them went on to have their own families, with most of them continuing the farming tradition.

Although during my time I wasn’t able to identify everyone I’d hoped to, the ones I have been able to seem to have interesting stories of their own.

The collection also includes jewellery belonging to family members we were able to identify in historical photographs at the Gold Museum. It was an interesting experience investigating the jewellery’s brands and patterns to find their own story.

Gold cross owned by Emma Britt (Gold Museum collection, 2016.0071)

Gold cross owned by Emma Britt (Gold Museum collection, 2016.0071)

Although it was a struggle trying to recognise vintage watch brands, I enjoyed the sleuthing I had to do. Using Trove and the State Library of Victoria helped place a time-frame on when things possibly occurred.

I also got to try my hand at transcribing some of the postcards that belonged to the family. One difficulty was figuring out who sent the cards to whom, as many of the family members had the same name.

This whole experience has been amazing. As an undergraduate student it is difficult getting opportunities like this. I’m looking forward to seeing more Ballarat stories at the museum in the future.

The story of the Britt family and their collection will appear in the newly updated Gold Pavilion at the end of 2017.

Written by Charlotte Ford, Bachelor of Arts (Japanese and History) student at Federation University.