Memoirs of the Queensland Museum – Culture 11

Forgotten Organisations from the First World War

Ryan, T.

Published online: June 2020


Ryan, T.


Ryan, T. 2020. Forgotten Organisations from the First World War. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum – Culture 11: 143–154.

Date published

June 2020



First World War, charity, welfare, patriotic, rehabilitation, shell shock


Like many museums, Queensland Museum has a host of small collection items such as buttons and badges related to organisations that were active during and immediately after the First World War. While some of these organisations existed before the War, others came into existence specifically because of the War. Some have lasted until today, while others ceased to exist once the War was over.

Today, the Red Cross and the Returned Services League (RSL) are well known across the country. In Queensland, the Golden Casket lottery began in 1917 as a fundraiser for war workers. Since then it has morphed into the State’s premier lottery, raising a significant amount of revenue for the State’s budget. Legacy started just after the War as a community-led organisation looking after the families of killed or critically wounded service personnel.

Meanwhile, the only evidence of the existence of events and organisations such as Jack’s Day, King George’s Fund and For King and Empire lies in archives and in the repositories of collecting institutions such as the Queensland Museum.

Where it is tempting to consider the First World War as a one-off event with clear boundaries (and indeed many of the current centenary commemorative events only focus on 1914 to 1918), its legacy is all around us. This paper considers what these badges and buttons, some long forgotten, tell us about fundraising and welfare-related work during and since the First World War. The need for such organisations has not disappeared in the past 100 years of incessant military and other conflicts, despite the lessons of the war to end all wars.

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