Riley Family Collection (subset of the ECU Museum of Childhood Collection) - Riley family photograph

Collection Highlights | Updated 6 years ago

A family portrait from the 19th century
Riley family children, sons and daughters of Perth’s first Anglican Archbishop, C O Riley. Photograph, 1896
Image copyright of ECU Museum of Childhood Collection

The Riley Family Collection is a historically significant part of the ECU Museum of Childhood Collection. This near complete collection of 150 toys, photos and other items belonged to the six children (b.1887-97) of Perth’s first Anglican Archbishop, the Rev C O Riley. It is believed to be one of the most complete holdings of a single family collection of toys of this period in Australia.

The toys in this collection were played with at ‘Bishop’s House’ in central Perth. The extensive range of toys is in excellent condition and includes many individually provenanced and rare items.

The collection of toys has historic significance in representing the experience of a privileged middle class Australian family at the turn of the 20th century. It casts light on social class, gender roles, religious observance, patterns of children’s play and the acculturation of Australian children into the British Empire. The collection is particularly significant for its integrity – both its excellent condition and its completeness as a family collection – and its provenance. Many of the toys have aesthetic significance as beautifully styled and crafted artefacts. The collection has social significance to the community who remembers Archbishop Riley and his family.

The collection is supported by published and archival material about the family, particularly the oldest child, Pauline. In addition, the Museum holds photographs of the children (some with their toys), an oral history with Pauline at 98, an extensively researched history of the children, and other items belonging to them.

This photograph shows the Riley family children, sons and daughters of Perth’s first Anglican Archbishop, C O Riley in the grounds of Bishop’s House Perth, 1896. L-R Margaret, Charles, Frank (‘Basil’), Catherine (‘Pauline’) and Eric. A sixth child, Gwendoline was born a year after this photo was taken.

History Department collection