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Sunday, 10 February 2013

Background Research to the Violet Day project

Violet Verses has been developed over several years, initally beginning with seed funding contributed by History SA, State Library of SA, Art Gallery of SA, SA Museum, Festival Centre and Adelaide University.

Initial research involved curators at History SA, State Library of SA, and historian/researchers John Mannion and Megan Collins.

The team proposed a major project which brought together research from the various cultural organisations, including the Red Cross Letters, War Diary of Leo Terrell, newspaper articles, re-recording of sheet music, and other artistic interpretations to tell the stories of six South Australians who lived during World War 1.

The major story selected to tie everything together was the story of the Cheer Up Our Boys Society led by Mrs Alexandrine Seagher. Mrs Seagher was a highly proficient organiser and became involved early on in coordinating the efforts of women to support soldiers’ morale, through dinners, events and other care. After Gallipoli the “Cheer Ups” coordinated the fundraising for a building to care for the soldiers returning broken from the front, and thus was born the first Violet Day in 1915. It was held annually thereafter and grew every year in support from city and country folk around South Australia.

Violet Day helped raise womens’ and their communities’ morale during the war, and contributed funds towards the Cheer Up Hut, assisting many returned soldiers.

Research continues in 2015 with the support of Christeen Schoepf, a researcher and historian who has written her Phd thesis about the Cheer Up Society. Christeen and Katharine Annear, Community Development Officer at West Torrens Council, have curated an exhibition that commemorates the Cheer Ups.

Additional research is being provided through community networks, social engagement via History SA and the cultural organisations.