The Vera Deacon Regional History Fund was set up to support and encourage the preservation and study of the University’s regional history archives and collections through acquisition, documentation, conservation and digitisation. And, in so doing providing greater access to the community whilst providing employment opportunities, mentoring and work experience for young people and professionals entering the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) sector.
It was launched on the 1 February 2008 in order to recognise and build on the generous donations provided by Stockton resident, author and historian, Vera Deacon. Since then many people from the wider community have generously donated to this fund, ensuring that many regional archives have now been accessioned and digitised and freely available to the wider research community. Most important of all, it has provided paid employment for people.
Vera over the past 17 years has donated to assist the University’s Cultural Collections (formerly Archives, Rare Books & Special Collections Unit) in the Auchmuty Library. This generosity has provided paid employment for over half a dozen people, who have accessioned over 637 boxes of regional research archives containing many thousands of individual items, digitised over 2.5 kms of Hunter Regional maps and plans, many thousands of local photographic images that have had over 45 million hits on flickr, digitised over 209 hours of oral history recordings, digitised and indexed over 5000 pages of Children’s Homes Records for care leavers, sponsored the creation of a Virtual Reality 3D Aboriginal Newcastle landscape and Colonial Newcastle of 1825, and a NewHistory smartphone app showcasing Newcastle’s important historic places. Not a bad achievement for a pensioner from Stockton, New South Wales. We are forever thankful for this help, and for the cultural riches it has provided for the wider global community.
Who is 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.
What does the Fund do?
The Vera Deacon Regional History Fund is primarily a source of financial support for the conservation and digitisation projects of the Auchmuty Library’s Cultural Collections, and providing occasional paid employment to their dedicated young volunteers who come in everyday to undertake the work under the supervision of professionals.
How can you become a Benefactor?
As we continue to develop as a community and a University it is our hope and wish that one day more generous and public spirited citizens may see fit to endow the University’s Cultural Collections research centre. Such endowments would be appropriate to ensure that the Collections continue to grow, receive conservation treatments and are properly catalogued and made accessible. At a time when Universities are being asked to generate more private funding, the cataloguing of manuscript collections would be quite properly supported by endowments.
If you wish to support the work of the University Library through a donation or gift to Cultural Collections, please:
- Visit https://dotnet.newcastle.edu.au/donations/
- Type in your gift amount. All donations over $2.00 are tax deductible in Australia.
- Select Vera Deacon Regional History Fund in the drop-down box.
- Complete the rest of the information and submit the form.
Alternatively, you may contact the Office of Alumni and Philanthropy on 4921 8612
Projects Completed in 2017:
Project Name: The Children’s Homes Digitisation Project
Scope: The Samaritans Foundation successfully applied for a Find & Connect grant for the digitisation and accessibility to care leavers of the Children’s Homes Records held at the University of Newcastle, with particular reference to St Elizabeth’s Home for Girls (1926-1976). To gain an insight into the importance of this Project for care leavers, please watch and listen to this presentation from Frank Golding
Time Frame: February 2017 – May 2017
Project Name: Newcastle App “NewyHistory”
Scope: To prepare biographies and histories of Newcastle’s most iconic buildings, places and cultural icons for a mobile device application. The Fund has provided a contribution towards the cost of the software architecture. Dr Ann Hardy has volunteered to create the content with assistance from Cultural Collections, Coal River Working Party, and members of wider research community. See: https://coalriver.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/newcastle-wow/
Time Frame: Completed and Under testing phase August 2017
– 2016 The Ross and Pat Craig Stockton Photographic Collection consisting of 5,491 images is now completed and online here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/albums/72157675926056946 Acknowledgement: Thanks to Mr Alf Rigby, the Craig Family and Dr Ann Hardy.
-2016 Royal Newcastle Nurses Association Indexing Project. Over 6,000 entries were indexed relating to the Royal Newcastle Hospital Nurses.
– 2015 The Margaret Henry Oral History Digital Archive consisting of 209 audio tracks spanning over 120 hours of interviews recorded with people from across the Hunter Region during the late 1980s has now been completed and is freely available through the UONs Cultural Collections blog https://uoncc.wordpress.com/2015/11/10/margaret-henry-oral-history-archive-2/ and on UONCC’s Soundcloud here https://soundcloud.com/uon…/sets/margaret-henry-oral-history
Acknowledgement: Thanks to Marilla North who has also contributed to this project with a donation in honour of “Vad & Viv” i.e., Evadne North (her mother) and Frances Vivienne Jones (her partner’s mother)
– 2014 Financing 34 days work for Charles Martin’s 3D Virtual Newcastle Time Machine Project See: https://coalriver.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/34-days/
– 2013 Digitisation of Stroud and related material, thanks to donation from Lesley Gent on behalf of mother Doreen Brady
– 2012 Accessioning of Jens Christensen Film Archives (4 boxes)
– 2011 Digitisation of Athel D’Ombrain Photographic Archives
– 2011 Accessioning of the Paul F. Walsh and Susan Harvey Collection
– 2011 Digitisation of over 2.5 kms of UONCC Map and Plan holdings including: Mayfield Subdivision Plans https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157627126349915 ; The Pender Archive (Selections): http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157627165745889/; Mahlshedt and Gee Surveyors – Newcastle – Jan 1886 http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157627126833932/; The Northumberland and Permanent Building Investment Land and Loan Society http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157627009132400/ ; Map Treasures (General scans of interest from across the collections) http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157627003398259/
– 2011 Accessioning of Wilderness Society (Newcastle Branch) Archives , 1976-2007. (21 boxes)
– 2011 Accessioning Mayfield Residents Group Archives , 1990-2009. (24 boxes)
– 2011 Accessioning Newcastle Greens (7 boxes with posters)
– 2009 Accessioning and digitisation of the Papers of the late Dr John Turner (49 boxes – including 3 boxes of slides with thousands of images)
– 2008 Accessioning and digitising Ralph Snowball Glass negatives
– 2008 Accessioning Professor Geoff Evans Public Broadcasting Files donated by Dr Phoebe Thornley, 1938-1982. (16 boxes) and audio tapes, 1980-1997.
– 2007 Accessioning of Bob Power Papers including the famous Les Darcy files, 1907-2003. (10 boxes)
– 2007 Accessioning of Newcastle Workers Co-operative Club , 1945-1997. (18 boxes)
– 2007 Accessioning of The Parks & Playgrounds Movement , 1958-2004. (9 boxes)
– 2007 Accessioning of Cardiff Rail Workshop, 1982-1993. (3 boxes)
– 2006 Accessioning of The Mervyn and Janet Copley Collection which included over 348 boxes of his news clipping files and 86 boxes of his diaries and autobiographical writings.
– 2006 Accessioning of South Maitland Mines Rescue Station 1925-1984 (9 boxes),
– 2006 Accessioning of Hunter Regional Council for Social Development, 1973-1977 (30 boxes)
– 2006 Accessioning of Chamber of Manufacturers of New South Wales, 1925-1983 (47 bound items).
– 2006 Accessioning of Papers of the late Ernest Hartup, a fisherman of Hexham. Date Range: 1933-1998. (1 box)
– 2006 Accessioning of The Federated Moulders’ (Metals) Union of Australia – Newcastle Branch 2 boxes and 28 volumes (1928-1983)