Launch of the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund
At a ceremony held on the 1st February 2008 at Newcastle Town Hall, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO Governor of New South Wales officially launched the University Foundation’s Vera Deacon Regional History Fund.
The purpose of this fund is to support and encourage regional history through the acquisition, preservation and study of valuable regional historical archival resources.
The Fund was set up in order to recognise and build on the generous donations provided by Stockton resident, author and historian, Vera Deacon.
Vera has contributed over $19,000 of her own funds since 2001 to Cultural Collections in the University Library allowing Archives staff to conserve and catalogue a rich variety of historical materials.
This fund would enable this work to continue, to uncover, preserve and safeguard this region’s important archives and documentary heritage for future generations.
Our history holds the keys to our future, without our archives and the knowledge and wisdom they impart to us, we cannot effectively meet the challenges of the future. Our history enables us to see who we were, who we are, and who we intend to be.
Projects which are currently supported by the Fund include
-the organisation and cataloguing of the late Associate Professor John Turner’s personal papers
-research work into our early colonial and convict history conducted by the University of Newcastle’s Coal River Working Party
-the preservation and cataloguing of other valuable historical material from the Hunter and Central Coast regions.
About Vera Deacon
An original resident of Moscheto Island (now part of Kooragang Island) Mrs Vera Deacon became acquainted with the University Archives during her research work into the history of the Islands of Newcastle, especially her childhood home; Moscheto (or Mosquito Island). Later moving from Sydney to Stockton she became involved in her local community joining the Stockton Historical Society and the Booklovers group that regularly met in Cooks Hill Books. The latter organisation consisted of a number of University of Newcastle academics and staff including the late Professor Godfrey Tanner. A friendship grew and following the death of Professor Tanner, she made her first donation to Cultural Collections to have the published papers of the late Professor collated. This was then succeeded by a steady stream of cash donations to Cultural Collections to have the papers of the late Merv Copley accessioned as well. She as continued to this day to make donations to accession the University’s archival holdings relating to labour history and environmental themes.
Throughout her life she has been involved in a variety of social and political movements; she has written works of local history and fiction, and she is a supporter, volunteer and benefactor to a range of organisations from the Hunter Wetlands Centre to Aboriginal Scholarships at the University of Newcastle. She is not a woman of substantial independent means but has a big heart, a strong sense of civic responsibility, and a passion for history. Her support so far has enabled the processing and preservation of the following outstanding local regional history collections.
Thanks to Vera Cultural Collections were able to complete the accessioning of the massive Mervyn Copley Collection which included over 348 boxes of his news clipping files and 86 boxes of his diaries and autobiographical writings. In addition a number of other collections that arrived through Merv Copley were also accessioned including those of the South Maitland Mines Rescue Station 1925-1984 (9 boxes), Hunter Regional Council for Social Development, 1973-1977 (30 boxes) and Chamber of Manufacturers of New South Wales, 1925-1983 (47 bound items).
Vera’s generosity has also allowed us to accession the papers of the late Ernest Hartup, a fisherman of Hexham, (Date Range of materials deposited: 1933-1998); the Federated Moulders’ (Metals) Union of Australia – Newcastle Branch (1928-1983) , Bob Power Papers including the famous Les Darcy files (1907-2003), Newcastle Workers Co-operative Club (1945-1997) The Parks & Playgrounds Movement (1958-2004), and the Cardiff Rail Workshop (Date Range: 1982-1993).
This has been a great achievement and we are very pleased to have this valuable local research material accessioned at last thanks to this brilliant benefactor.