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Temora Community Archive – Part 2: The archival collection

Bill Speirs is the Manager of Temora Rural Museum

This post continues on from  Temora Community Archive – Part 1: Building the “Underground Archive” .

About our Collection

The archival collection held at Temora is closely, if not exclusively, based upon the geographical area of Temora Shire. In addition to the historical records of the Shire Council itself, and its local government predecessors, the project seeks to preserve the records of local community organizations and families.

In addition, being a museum based facility; a substantial amount of material addressing social, domestic and rural industrial themes is maintained.

Highlights from the Collection

John Mearn's Diary

John Mearn's Diary

The diary of John Mearns is the oldest original document in our collection and the only one which pre-dates our goldfield period that began in 1880.


William Ryan's Illuminated Address

William Ryan's Illuminated Address

Next is a beautiful illuminated address, comprising several pages of a photograph album. It was presented to Alderman William Ryan upon his retirement in 1948.

Temora Street Levels

Temora Street Levels

Last but not least the image above shows the original surveyor’s notebooks used to plan the levels of the streets of Temora. All of the original plans have survived in their purpose built storage box. This survey was undertaken as one of the first activities of the newly constituted Borough of Temora in 1892.

The “software” (Arrangement & Description)

Like the storage facility itself, the cataloging system was developed by the Society to meet its particular needs.

The cataloguing logic divides the museum collection into sixteen areas of curatorial responsibility reflected in a double letter / multiple digit, alpha-numeric identification system which fits neatly into the museum’s commercially developed computerized cataloguing database.

The first letter indicates the class of the artifact. e.g. “A” = “archives & records”.

The second letter indicates the type of artifact within the class. e.g. “M” = “Photographs & postcards”. Therefore all items with an alpha-numeric identity “AM/” are either photographs or postcards. Within each category the items are numbered progressively upwards from one, giving each a unique identity. In the context of our collection, this simple system provides clear and unequivocal identification for an unlimited number of items.

Because the collection is relatively small and is generally composed of small series, within the archive, identified items are boxed in broad categories such as “commercial” and “volunteer services”, and we rely upon our cataloging system to locate and retrieve individual items.

Community Benefits

From the outset, the motivation for creating the archival collection was simply to prevent the loss of unique local historical records and make them available for research.

The return to the community, however, from developing such a remarkably extensive and accessible asset is rather broader in its benefits.

Many people within the increasingly urban Australian community have ancestral family links to rural districts. The desire to explore these links underpins a significant and growing sector of the “Visiting Friends and Relatives” sector of the Rural Tourism market.

Through the “Temora Community Archive” and the “Temora Local & Family History Research Centre”, both co-located with the Temora Rural Museum, Temora can often more than meet the expectations of visitors exploring their links to the community.

Some years ago, a correspondent to a Sydney metropolitan newspaper very kindly referred to Temora as the “Friendliest Town in New South Wales”. While such a claim may be hard to define objectively, it does provide a standard to which many in the community aspire. The service provided to the public by the Temora Community Archive is a small but significant expression of that aspiration.

All pictures and images are reproduced courtesy of Temora Rural Museum

Do you have an archival collection in NSW that you would like to write about? Please contact us.

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