oral history, pictorials, research, words, history, stories, exhibitions, archives, writing, digitisation, significance, images, heritage, editing, memoirs, interpretation
Symbols and representations of heritage can evoke pride or mourning, fascination or horror, but their intrinsic value lies in their ability to make us more aware of the world around us and our part in it. To this end understanding, celebration and recognition is important. Emma Russell’s work over the years has resulted in her appointment as Alternate Historian member of the Heritage Council of Victoria and as Chair of the Council’s Intangible* and Moveable Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee.
* Intangible heritage is the knowledge, traditions, crafts, rituals, language, and cultural, social and religious practices that fill our lives. It is these that distinguish individuals, families, communities and societies from each other and make the world such a fascinating place.
Assessing the significance of a collection, tradition, object, building or landscape unearths its history, its meaning and its importance to us. The process involves research, consultation, comparisons, documentation and consideration to reach as informed an assessment as possible against a range of established, nationally recognised criteria. For the benefits of a significance assessment please read Significance Assessments and Community Collections, an article I wrote for the August 2008 issue of INSITE, the Museum Australia (Victoria) members’ magazine.
History@Work is adept at assessing the significance of our wide-ranging and fascinating heritage. Emma led a team of historians in the State Library of Victoria’s 2006 Memory Victoria project to assess local history collections in libraries across the state, and has assessed fire fighting, gliding, scouting, medicine and many other specialist collections.
An excellent example of interpretation is in the twelve plaques installed by the Collingwood Historical Society (CHS) with the assistance of Heritage Victoria and the City of Yarra. These signify local sites of industrial heritage important to the development of Melbourne and Victoria. This project won the CHS the Best Collaborative/Community Project in the 2008 Victorian Community History Awards. History@Work researched and wrote the plaque and accompanying website text for the Doll’s House on the corner of Cromwell Street and McCutcheon Way.
Much of our heritage is held in little used and less known archives of private institutions, or cared for by a handful of valiant and voluntary members of local historical societies and special interest groups. Please read an edited version of The Search for Significance, an article about a wonderful blanket and the many little-known collections around Victoria. The unedited version was published in Pharos, the magazine of the Professional Historians Association (Vic) in July 2007.
History@Work is an advocate for judicious collecting of our significant heritage and has worked with many collections as a researcher and an assessor, and developed an archive for Fairfield Primary School and Bonlac Foods Ltd.