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Memento : Issue 18
Gumleaves & rubber stamps september 2001 memento 21 Open a drawer in our Tr easures Gallery and you may find it full of gumleaves. And then, out of the past, two voices begin to speak: What is your full name? Jan Jandura Pucek Do you solemnly swear ... What you are hearing is the first Australian citizen pledging allegiance to His Majesty King George VI and promising to uphold the laws of Australia, recorded in 1949. Our Treasures Gallery exhibition on immigration tells the story of Australia's early migrants including Australia's first citizen, Jan Pucek, from Czechoslovakia. He became a eucalyptus distiller in Tidbinbilla, near Canberra, using gumleaves, just like those in the drawer, for distilling oil. Jan Pucek's story reveals a little- known fact that Australia did not have citizens of its own until 1949. Before then, all Australians were British subjects -- and they remained both citizens and subjects for some time after. At the Customs point -- a family arriving in Australia in the late 1960s. rubber stamps In this mini-exhibition you will also find a display of stamps once used to mark the fate of migrant applicants. Over the 100 years since Federation, ideas about who should be allowed to migrate here have changed.Twenty years earlier, Jan Pucek's application may not have been successful. Such small objects to carry such power -- Will my application be stamped? Can I come in? People's futures opened -- or closed -- by the application of a rubber stamp. You'll find these stories and more in our Treasures Gallery in Canberra at least until the end of the year. NAA: A1200, L69299