The Gould League is an
organization founded in 1909 to encourage the love and protection of
Australian native birds.The name Gould League honours the work of an English couple John and Elizabeth Gould.
John Gould was an artist and
naturalist and his wife
was also an artist. They were married in Jan. 1829, left England in
May 1838 for Australia where they spent 2 years of intensive study of Australian birds and animals.
John encouraged Elizabeth to
learn lithography and
she was taught by his collaborator Edward Lear. She became
proficient with the art form and went on to use it to create illustrations from John’s drawings, producing over 600
illustrations for many publications.
The initial stimulus to form the
Gould League was a
letter from a school teacher, Jessie McMichael to John Albert
Leach, supervisor of nature study in Victorian state schools and later Chief Inspector of Schools in Victoria.
She suggested the formation of groups of school students devoted to studying and protecting birds.
Jessie McMichael also helped with the founding of the League by making some generous donations.
When formally established in
1909, the Gould league
of Bird Lovers, as it was then called, was devoted to bird
protection, especially the prevention of bird egg theft, the promotion of interest in and knowledge of birds and to
campaign for the formation of bird sanctuaries. Members would take a pledge to protect Australian birdlife and not to
collect their eggs. In those days it was normal, and completely acceptable, for school children to have their own bird
egg collections, and many classrooms were decorated with strings of blown eggshells hanging around the walls.
In 1910, news
of this league reached Mr. Walter Finigan, nature study teacher at
N.S.W. Mr . Finigan was
so enthusiastic about the idea that, in the school grounds he discussed with headmaster Mr. Edward Webster the
possibility of forming a similar league in N.S.W..
On Sat 22nd October
1910, at a meeting of the Wellington
the Public School Teacher's Association, it
decided to form The New South Wales Gould League of Bird Lovers. Mr. Webster was made temporary President
and Mr. Finigan was made secretary. Later that year the Chief Inspector of schools, Mr. J. Dawson was visiting
Wellington, and undertook the position of permanent President.
In Dec. 1910 at a meeting held
in Sydney, in the
presence of noted ornithologists and teachers, the league was launched
as a state wide organization. The N.S.W. membership cards featured the Gould League Pledge “ I hereby promise to
protect all birds except those that are noxious, and to refrain from unnecessary collection of wild birds eggs ” and this
became the focus of Gould League activities .
1930 certificates and
various badges were issued to new members
as they joined the league. From 1931
to 1967, postcard size certificates and annual badges were produced and issued to members . In 1967 the league
amalgamated with The Junior Tree Wardens and the words “Bird lovers ” dropped from the title.
Badges were issued until 1978 when most of the activities were transferred to Victoria.
1928 saw the first of a long
series of annual
membership badges, made of solid metal and hand coloured in enamel, that
have now become collector’s items. Priced at one shilling and originally intended for adult members, the badges
became very popular with children. The first badge showed a Willie Wagtail, and subsequent badges featured a different
bird each year until 1967.
In 1965 an enameled badge was produced showing a kookaburra on a white background with an inscription "Senior Member".
amalgamation with the Junior Tree Wardens, badges were produced from
1968 to 1978, made of aluminum or plastic,
and inscribed "Gould League of N.S.W.".
Badges made of
acrylic were issued from Victoria as Gould League Australia, up until
2003 ... and possibly beyond.
Gould League has produced, to the best of my knowledge, 3 Kookaburra
badges and 3 Robin Redbreast badges.
They appear to be enamel or acrylic.
The Gould League
in W.A. has produced tin badges depicting Australian fauna, quantity
unknown, but I know of a collection of 15.
I know of 1
badge, but details of other States are not known.
Today the Gould
League delivers innovative environmental sustainability teaching and
learning programs to children and their families.
Their vision for the future is to be recognised as one of the world's leading environmental educational organizations.
They are still
very active in Viuctoria, W.A. and S.A.
Gould Leagues of
N.S.W., Quensland and Tasmania have now ceased.
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