Vera Deacon Regional History Fund

Mrs Vera Deacon, photographed on 1 Febuary 2008 at the Launch of the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund

Mrs Vera Deacon, photographed on 1 February 2008 at the Launch of the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund


Vera Deacon Regional History Fund
Office of Alumni and Philanthropy website.

“Child of the river, icon of the city” By Scott Bevan. [Courtesy Newcastle Herald Weekender 16 June 2018 ..6-7] Click image for a larger version.

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
  • 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 Currently Underway for 2018:

Project Name: Digitisation and Indexing of the NBN Film Archive
Scope: The Vera Deacon Regional History Fund is employing a digitisation officer for 3 days a week for a fixed term to digitise and index news footage from the NBN Archive, under the guidance and mentorship of Mr Phillip Lloyd and Barry Nancarrow.  All work will be undertaken under the professional supervision of Dr Ann Hardy in the GLAMx Living Histories Digitisation Lab. See:
Time Frame: November 2017 – October 2018.

Project Name: Ravensworth Project.
Scope: Researcher to undertake research work on the circa 1830 Ravensworth Homestead. To provide an update to the work of Cynthia Hunter 1997 Ravensworth, a History See also:
Time Frame:
April-December 2018

Project Name: Aboriginal Place Names Project.
Scope: Volunteer Angus Glasper is currently being employed one day per week to digitise, transcribe and (hopefully) map to Google Earth 500 leaves of Aboriginal place names across New South Wales recorded by Canon Carlos Stretch in a manuscript entitled A9082. The Stretch manuscript has been uploaded in Living Histories here: 
The map that is the key to co-ordinates the  is here: (The map looks blurry if you use the zoom in slider on the page, but if you use the “Zoom to 100%” feature you can see the detail). A biography on Canon Carlos is available here:
Time Frame: May-November 2018.

Project Name: Coal & Allied Photographs Project.
Scope: Volunteer Jessica Waugh has gained paid work for twelve (12) Mondays from 3 September to 26 November working on digitising a selection of Coal And Allied Photographs recently donated.
Time Frame: November 2018.




  • 2018 Engineers Australia Oral Histories Project. Engineers Australia donated a sum to the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund to assist in completing the work undertaken by volunteers Patrick Lindus and Jessica Waugh to digitise their collection of fifty-eight oral histories.  See: and
    See images from the launch here:
  • 2017  The Children’s Homes Digitisation Project. 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). Joshua Curley and Chris Bourne (Volunteers/Casuals employed through Vera Deacon Regional History Fund digitised and indexed over 5000 pages of confidential Children’s Homes Records. Both continued to work on the Project as volunteers. To gain an insight into the importance of this Project for care leavers, please watch and listen to this presentation from Frank Golding

Margaret Henry

Scene showing Watch House in centre, 3D rendered by Charles Martin

    • 2013 Digitisation of Stroud and related material, thanks to donation from Lesley Gent on behalf of mother Doreen Brady

16 thoughts on “Vera Deacon Regional History Fund

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  6. Just found your site by accident….I am looking for an old friend that attended a girls high school at the junction in Newcastle in the 1970’s she would be 56 if she’s still alive…her first name is Louis..and that’s all I have to go by…is it possible that your archieves has pictures and names for this search…I very interested as to what happened to my old friend…thank email is I know it’s a shotmaking in the dark but can never give up hope of finding out what happened to her…thank you.

    Bill trevillian

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