A very successful Rose de Freycinet archives evening was held on Thursday 19th June. It was organised by Susan Hunt, Executive Director of the State Library Foundation, for the Friends of the Laperouse Museum and some State Library Foundation custodian donors in the Mitchell Library Friends room. Everybody had plenty of time to view Rose’s fascinating journal written on board the “Uranie” to be given to her dear friend and cousin, Caroline de Nanteuil, in amazingly good condition considering that it will soon be 200 years old. We also saw her letters to her mother transcribed by Louis, her husband, and a very beautiful edition of the paintings and drawings made by the artists who accompanied the expedition. These illustrations were also running concurrently on a large television screen throughout the evening.
The Consul General for France, M. Eric Berti, spoke on behalf of the Friends of the Laperouse Museum, drawing attention to the intrepid Rose’s courage and daring in “running away to sea” with her husband at a time when it was not only illegal and extremely dangerous, but also considered most unlucky for women to make long sea journeys.
Richard Neville, Mitchell Librarian, spoke at length of the intrinsic value of the journal and letters with their first- hand impressions of life at sea and on land in the early 19th century, and “their lively, observant and fascinating account of European engagement with Australia and the Pacific”.
Sam Meers, Executive Director of the Nelson Meers Foundation spoke on behalf of the State Library Foundation, drawing attention to the social importance of the archives. She said that they offer “an unrivalled manuscript…which records not only the activities of the expedition itself, but also documents the much less visible minutiae of travel, the issues of class, protocol and society as well as the personal stories of a remarkable woman’s achievements in the masculine world of exploration.”
With very pleasant wines and delicious food served throughout the evening, the 60+ guests all had a most exciting, informative and enjoyable evening. Photograph(left)- Eric Berti with Alex Byrne, State Librarian and Executive Director State Library of NSW (account from Carole Roussel)