John F. O’Reilly: Thanks to the National Archives of Australia

Patience and Perseverance Rewarded.

NAA_JFO'Reilly 1936

Among the newly scanned records from the National Archives of Australia (NAA) is this photo of John F. O’Reilly, the Superintending Engineer for the Postmaster General’s Department. Recently I had requested information or a photo from the Post Office Records which are held by the NAA. I was able to give them a detailed list of where he had worked and when but the records had been sent elsewhere and split up so there was little they could tell me. Nonetheless, I received another email telling me they had tracked down two files, the photo from the PMG’s Perth Office dated between 1933 and 1937 and another from their Central Office. Even though the photo was in Sydney and the file in Melbourne they were scanned and catalogued and now available online via the Record or Photo Search facility. We really are fortunate to have such excellent resources and staff to assist our enquiries.  They unearth long forgotten people and files on a needs basis that would otherwise await digitization at some distant time in the future. Of course, if I wish to know more I am welcome to visit the NAA in Melbourne and search through the other PMG’s records there.

John F. O’Reilly’s obituary reports he was in Western Australia in 1936. A search on Trove finds plenty of articles about John’s time there. The Daily News from 10 January, 1936 has a photo and tells us John arrived in Perth that week while The Daily News from 11 November, 1936 tells us Mr & Mrs O’Reilly of Webster St, Nedlands were leaving the next day by the Duntroon for Brisbane where John was to be the Superintending Engineer, starting on 23 November, 1936. The social pages of Perth’s Sunday Times tells us that Mrs. J. F. O’Reilly had a very busy time attending farewell parties prior to  their departure on the Duntroon. These newspaper articles conclusively date the photo as 1936 but unfortunately there’s no indication of the occasion. Perhaps it was a farewell party?

For those interested to know what Superintending Engineer, John F. O’Reilly’s job in Western Australia entailed here is another article from the Daily News about John’s arrival in W.A. entitled ‘No Aristocracy in Radio, Bush Equals City, S.W. Service Is Sure to Please’ about the advent of wireless radio! Meanwhile John’s wife Maude was a talented artist mentioned in a detailed article about her life and ceramics in the West Australian dated 23 April, 1936. No wonder they were popular!

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