Criss-cross history hidden in a letter

In 1839, newly arrived colonist James Graham, wrote to his father in Scotland, using the then-popular technique of cross-hatching in order to save on paper.

James Graham overland letter, 12 July 1839. University of Melbourne Archives, Graham Bros and Co collection, 1961.0014.00046

The transcription of the letter runs to an incredible 40 pages, showing just how efficient the method was. The letter describes Graham’s overland trip from Sydney to Melbourne, an unusual journey for the time. The letter is crammed with tales of adventure, but holds a deeper and unsettling insight into the history of Australia’s frontier conflict. In this article for Pursuit, Dr Katherine Ellinghaus draws out this story.

Scan of original letter


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