By Fiona Sullivan, Susan Jones and Michael Organ
One thing that all of State Records Regional Archives Centres have in common is that they have come about as the result of the actions of one or two motivated individuals with a strong commitment to archives, history and the local community. In this case the collection at the University of Wollongong commenced when in 1968 Jim Hagan and Ross Duncan from the University’s Department of History began building a collection of source materials to support research in the Department. For Jim Hagan this was the beginning of a commitment and involvement with the collection that would span more than 40 years.
In 1973 the first full time Archives Officer, Baiba Irving, was appointed to the University, further establishing the status of the collection. The formal relationship between the University of Wollongong and State Records NSW (then known as the Archives Office of NSW) commenced in 1979 with the authorisation of the loan of State archives to the institution.
Over the years UOW Archivists have included Baiba Irving (1973-76), Laurie Dillon (1976-80), John Shipp (1980-87), Annabel Lloyd (1987-92), Patrick Brownlee (Archivist-in-training, 1993-94) and Michael Organ (1995-2002). The present manager of the Archives is Susan Jones (2002-Present).
The archival collection was initially stored offsite at the nearby suburb of Warrawong and later, following a flood, in the basement of Wollongong Council’s Kenny Street car park in the Wollongong CBD. However, from 1976 onwards the collection has been housed onsite at the University of Wollongong, primarily in the University Library.
The University Archives identifies two key roles for itself in the ongoing management of its collection:
1. To preserve the corporate and social history of the University and
2. To facilitate access to archival collections, supporting the University’s present and future teaching, learning and research needs.
Content of Collection
The University archives collection comprises historical university administrative records (minutes, correspondence, photographs corporate publications, and ephemera) as well as records from clubs, societies and other organisations on campus.
The Private archive collection consists of a wide range of records from community organisations, former lecturers, political parties and local businesses of the Illawarra region. One of its most heavily used collections is the Doris Chadwick History of School Education in Australasia collection, acquired from the NSW Department of Education Library, which is accessed by UOW Education and Arts Faculty students as well as researchers from across the country.
The State archive collection initially began with the Records of the Illawarra Regional Advisory Committee but later expanded to incorporate the records of Local Government, as well as several schools and courts.
There are a number of exciting projects currently underway at the University of Wollongong Archives:
- Digital Archive – There is an ongoing project to digitise aspects of the University’s corporate history. This includes items that generate high volume requests such as University Calendars/Handbooks and Annual Reports. The latest phase of this project, the digitisation of the official Campus News newsletter is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
- Image collection – The Archives is in the early stage of experimenting with templates and metadata to upload key images from the University Photograph collection. Some test examples are currently available for viewing.
- Library Catalogue data entry – One of the major projects currently underway is the development of manuscript catalogue records so that information about the archival collections can be uploaded into the Library’s main catalogue, increasing the visibility and accessibility of the collection to all library users. Work on this project has been greatly facilitated by the National Library’s recent migration of the Archives’ existing entries in the national Register of Archives and Manuscripts database into the Libraries Australia national catalogue.
The Archivist at the University of Wollongong also has duties that are similar to that of a Faculty Librarian. Teaching is an important component of this. Classes are regularly taught to students from the Faculties of Education and Arts in locating and using original sources (both hardcopy and digital). Individual consultations are also provided to students and researchers on demand throughout the year.
The University of Wollongong Archives has developed a good relationship with the Local Studies Library of Wollongong City Library which has an extensive collection of sources for family and local historians. Where appropriate, general enquiries relating to family history are frequently referred to Wollongong City Library as the University primarily deals with enquiries relating to the original sources in its collection.
How to Access the Collection
The University of Wollongong Archives is currently staffed by Susan Jones and part-time casual Archives Assistant Lauren Richardson. For more detailed information about the holdings of the Archives and to find out how to make an enquiry check out the University of Wollongong Archives home page.
All images reproduced courtesy of the University of Wollongong.
Regional Archives Centre Series