A Quick Trip through a History of Fashion

A quick trip through a history of fashion - from the twentieth and nineteenth centuries

Elizabeth Burness has shared her fashion collection of hats, dresses, suits, underwear and shoes with seniors in aged care facilities for over twenty years. Bringing back many memories of their youth in the mid twentieth century their stories are often poignant, and very often, amusing.

This presentation aims to educate students about this fascinating topic, allowing them to handle the antique and vintage items, some with a provenance. She will explore how different eras, including wars, influenced fashion, while sharing the memories and responses of former elderly participants who lived through these eras, and who have now passed on.

Elizabeth will start with a genuine dress from the 1920s and will show actual examples from each decade of the twentieth century, before contrasting the variety, boldness and freedom of that fashion, with the strictures and very different manner of dress of the previous century.

The collection has a predominantly female focus as her elderly audiences have been mainly women. However, both men and women have contributed responses, memories and anecdotes which makes the presentation a lively social history event.



Elizabeth Burness. After attaining bachelor’s degrees in Art, English and Education, Elizabeth taught secondary school students in country Victoria and suburban Melbourne. In 1974 she became an Education Officer at the National Gallery of Victoria. Highlights of her nine years there included curating exhibitions for the Blind and Intellectually Handicapped as well as visiting a prisoner in Pentridge Gaol to discuss art.

In 1979 she was on exchange to the Art Gallery of South Australia for a year. In 1983 she started as an Education Officer at the Australian War Memorial where she stayed for fifteen years. Retiring from official museum work in the early 2000s Elizabeth went back to teaching part time as well as being awarded a series of ACT Government Grants which enabled her to start her business called History with A Difference – Where History Has a Future, (see her website of the same name). She took her own collection to both Aged Care facilities to bring back memories, as well as visiting schools. She continues these activities today.

In 2011 Elizabeth was asked to use her own collection to enable the recently restored empty Tuggeranong Schoolhouse to function as a museum. She regularly opens this site to the public and by appointment and curates and manages this site alone as a volunteer.

No events are currently scheduled. Details of future events will be posted as they become available.

Date & time

Thu 06 Oct 2022, 1–2pm


Sir Roland Wilson Building, 1.02 Conference Room


Elizabeth Burness



Updated:  28 September 2022/Responsible Officer:  Centre Director/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications