Sigalas Family Collection




The Sigalas family collection contains over 80 items, and includes brought objects, documents relating to working life, clothing and correspondence representing arranged marriage, and documents, and objects and clothing showcasing Melbourne social and cultural life from the 1920s-1950s.The collection helps to document the migration experience of one of Melbourne's key migrant groups, the Greeks, and includes objects from the 19th century to the 1960s.

The Sigalas family story explores migration as a continuous experience for some people: of shifting from country to country until finding the right place to settle; of the strong ties to homelands which draw some people back again and again; of chain migration whereby one family member (usually male) established himself before sending for the rest of the family; and of finding brides in home countries in order to establish families in the new. The collection includes objects brought and used by Letho Sigalas, his wife Lili, their two daughters Dan'e and Babette, and Letho's father, James. The business letterhead used by James Sigalas, represents working life, the development of Melbourne's cafe culture, and the importance played by European migrants in its development. The earliest objects in the collection are family heirlooms, a 19th century beaded collar, tapestry curtain and a pair of Bezique scoreboards, brought out by Lili Vrahamis when she immigrated to Melbourne to marry her cousin Letho Sigalas in 1923. The wedding dress is an evocative symbol of a key immigration motivation for many young European women - being brought out to Australia to marry men from similar cultural backgrounds and places. The 'flapper' dress, passports, tickets and travel related material represent the affluence of some people in Melbourne establishing themselves during the 1920s and 1930s and their choice of recreational activities. Several items, particularly those relating to the 1951 theatre production of the Greek tragedy 'Antigone', illustrate the strong sense of community and the importance placed on the continuation and transmission of culture fostered by many migrant groups in Australia.

Please direct access requests via Museum Victoria's Discovery Centre


1920-1980; Arranged Marriages; Brought Goods; Café Culture; Family Businesses; Fashion; First aid; Greek Communities; Greek Immigration; Greek Language; Immigration; Theatrical Performances; Travel & Tourism; Working life; World War II, 1939-1945

Coverage Spatial

Canada; Europe; Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Greece; Istanbul, Turkey; United States

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