Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Look who's talking : Amplify and the voices of Wagga Wagga

"I speak it in the freedom of my knowledge"
                                          -The winter's tale, William Shakespeare

The State Library of New South Wales defines oral history as : 
"...the recording of people's unique life experiences in an interview format.'
This year, the Wagga Wagga City Library was chosen to participate in a pilot project run by the State Library of New South Wales , to make our oral history collections accessible to the public via the online platform Amplify.

We had two collections, the Wagga Wagga floods 2012 interviews, and the 2WG Women's Club interviews, ready to be converted and uploaded to Amplify. On Tuesday 11 November , our very own Amplify collections were launched , with illustrious guests attending,  including historian Sherry Morris (who conducted the floods oral histories) and James McTavish, who was the SES  Regional Control Officer at the time of the floods, and much beloved by Wagga for his leadership and work during the crisis.

The tradition of the Amplify cookie (started by Orange Library at their Amplify collection launch, as one of the participating libraries) was observed, and everyone had an opportunity to try out the Amplify website.

Another star attendee was the articulate and witty Evelyn Patterson, who was in the unique position of being interviewed for both projects. Evelyn worked at 2WG during the heyday of the Women's Club and she also survived the 2012 floods (and had memories of other floods in Wagga Wagga from the 1950s onwards.) 

The culmination of six months work behind the scenes, the Wagga Wagga oral history collections on Amplify involved library staff converting audio files, listening to hours of recordings, creating accurate summaries, finding photographs and resizing them to fit the software requirements, making records and collections in Amplify and then transferring all the data to these records to be published online. Two of our colleagues at the Riverina Regional Library made all the mp3 files and photographs available through the library catalogue, to complete the picture. 

People from anywhere in the world, at any time, can contribute to Amplify by listening to and correcting the audio transcript in real time, online. You don't need to log in (although you can create a free account to record your editing) and there are instructions for listening, editing and correcting on every oral history. 

The Wagga Wagga City Library is looking forward to making more collections available in the future- with such an easy and fun way to contribute to our collective histories, Amplify is sure to keep growing throughout the years to come.There are also many other interesting collections available, from the New South Wales State Library, and our project friends Orange Library, Wollongong Library, and Ryde Library. You don't have to confine yourself to the Wagga collections. 

Here is a link to our Amplify web page: 


If you would like a demonstration of how to use Amplify, just pop down to the library and ask our friendly staff ,who will be able to help you. 



Left to right: Sherry Morris, Historian, and Claire Campbell, Wagga Wagga City Library Manager, at the Amplify launch, November 11, 2018


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Recording and writing family and local history

"Let us from point to point this story know" - All's well that ends well, William Shakespeare
 Do you have a family or local history story you would like to have a permanent record of? Maybe you have an elderly relative with a story to tell, or know a local character whose story you think ought to be preserved?
It's not as hard as you think - at the Wagga Wagga City Library we have some guides to help you get started. 

How to write and publish your family story is a short and practical guide to preserving your family's story. Noeline Kyle starts with basic issues like what practical items you will need, how to arrange your information in an interesting and coherent narrative, through the legalities of copyright and publishing options. 


Recording a person's history or story in their own voice in an interview is called oral history. The Oral History Handbook by Beth M Robertson covers all aspects of how to set about recording interviews , though technology has come a long way  since this 4th edition was published, so anyone with a smart phone, tablet or ipad can make a very high quality recording without buying expensive equipment. This guide covers how to structure oral history projects, what kind of questions to ask, ethical considerations, how to write usage agreements, copyright, permission to publish, even the setup or arrangement of the location for the interview. 

There are also lots of Oral History associations and organisations you can access online for help and guidance. Here is a link to Oral History NSW organisation :


The New South Wales State Library has some excellent resources available online :


And if you would like to listen to some oral history recordings to give you some inspiration, New South Wales State Library hosts Amplify , which makes available a vast array of oral history recordings from various library and other organisations across New South Wales :



Lastly, if you are super keen, the library has a copy of Keep it for the future, published by the National Archives of Australia. This book has all the information you need to set up a small community archive, clearly and plainly set out, starting with why you might want to set up an archive, creating a policy for your collection, through to practical aspects like storage, preserving different types of records like tapes, CDs, and photographs, and what to do if flood or fire affects your collection. 
This book is a part of the local studies collection, so can only be viewed within the library. Just ask the friendly staff to help you. And, if you have any other questions about collecting or recording local or family history, we can show you how to find resources that will help you along the way. 




Sunday, September 30, 2018

Grave matters: resources in reference genealogy

What is reference genealogy and what does it have to do with burial or cemetery records? We have had a few questions about graves and death records so here is some basic information.

Reference genealogy is a collection of reference works that cover local, national and international records. While both local studies and reference genealogy are "not for loan" collections, to be read within the library only, reference genealogy is is an open collection you can browse within the library.
One of the most popular (if not THE most popular) sections of reference genealogy is the local area burial records.

Here is a selection of books from Reference Genealogy to get you started:


The Wagga Wagga City Library has 3 volumes of Dr Kok Hu Jin's works about Chinese Cemeteries in Australia. Volume 4 covers local area cemeteries including the Wagga Wagga Monumental Cemetery. There is an extensive glossary of names, a bibliography and a list of publications you might want to use in your research. 


Detail : The grave of the Late Honourable Ling Mu Xian of Shen Keng. From Volume 4, Chinese Cemeteries in Australia p. 38



The Old Melbourne Cemetery 1837 - 1922 by Marjorie Morgan was printed in 1982 and the presentation quality may not be as polished as some would prefer but this volume contains valuable information. It includes a short history of the cemetery, maps, black and white photographs, and a collection of inscriptions from the tombstones in the different denominational sections. 


Above : detail, tombstone transcription from the Wesleyan section of the Old Melbourne Cemetery



The last word: two centuries of Australian epitaphs by Lionel Gilbert has saved for posterity these epitaphs on Australian gravestones. It's a massive work full of humorous, poignant, sparse writings - from the famous to the not so famous, family written epitaphs alongside quotes from Shakespeare. 
Chapter nine, Poets to the rescue, is entirely devoted to the literary resources used in composing epitaphs, and other poetic sources such as hymn books, biblical verses, or even a poet's own writings. Politicians also liked using lines from their speeches. 


Detail : epitaph from Bee Miles headstone, in Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney NSW

The Wagga Wagga City Council also has an online searchable map of the Wagga Wagga Cemetery. If you are unsure of how to use this great resource, come into the library and we can show you how it works. While you're here you can check the cemetery records or maybe use the microfilm reader to check death notices you can't find online. 



Friday, August 31, 2018

Something old , something new : diverse history from local studies


History of Bethungra: community and place by Terry Cowled and Graham Levett covers the usual aspects that local histories do and some others you don't expect, such as local flora and fauna. It's so well put together, including an index, end notes and bibliography, you can also browse the chapters without losing any of the substance. The photographs and maps all combine to make a really interesting read.


detail: the Bethungra Hotel, also known as Hotel Shirley, circa 1950


A little history about a big subject, 150 Spectacular Years is wealth of information packed into a small space. The origins of the School of Arts in 1859, in tandem with the Mechanics Institute, shows how the organisation was formed and then flourished into the 20th century. Changes in direction in the 1940s saw the School of Arts focusing on drama and music, with the last century's interests falling out of fashion. This slim volume contains posters, reviews, photographs and more, and the prose is beautifully written and very readable. 


detail: Jean Blamey and Terry O'Connell in Hedda Gabler, 1948



Historian Sherry Morris is foremost amongst Wagga Wagga's living treasures, and her books are always superbly researched and presented. Kapooka : from engineer's camp to the home of the soldier 1942-2016 continues this seam of high quality and gives us a realistic look at how Kapooka has evolved from World War Two. Sherry Morris always seems to hunt out information or photographs that no-one else can get, making her books on even familiar subjects refreshing and suprising. 


detail: members of the Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS) on a picnic at The Rock


As always, these books are available for viewing within the library - just ask any of our friendly staff when you visit the library.




Tuesday, July 31, 2018

New items in local studies : Yabtree Station, midwives of the Murray, World War One memories



This beautifully written history covers the Horsley farming family in the Gundagai district from it's establishment in around the middle of the the nineteenth century to the current day. A wealth of charming family photographs combines with a literary writing style that provides an enjoyable read. This copy was kindly donated by the family and can be viewed within the library only.



Detail: Wallace Horsley with Ian on George the pony (no date)




Prolific medical and social historian Mavis Gaff-Smith has written a thoroughly researched history of the midwives of the towns along the Murray River, to the coast. This little known and undervalued but immensely important part of history is uncovered by Ms Gaff-Smith in all her works, a great  many of which can also be found in the library's collections.  


Above: from Midwives and paddle Steamers



Janine Agzarian tells the story of her grandfather Charles George Bishop,who fought in World War One, after inheriting a wooden box with George's World War One postcards, photographs and documents. The author travelled to France to walk where her grandfather did, ninety years before, in the Great War.
And there I was, on a small tarred French road with my C E W Bean extract, an 18th battalion war diary, a battle plan and a packet of chewing gum...and my grandfather.
 p 53, The grandfather I never met

This book is absolutely the best example of a meld of family history, war history and travel I have read to date, a perfect weave of imagination, reality and history. The color illustrations using George Bishop's personal items and photographs make the story even more evocative of the connections between then and now. 


Above: George Bishop (left) and cousin-in-law Frederick Frauenfelder, from The Grandfather I never met


As always these books are available to view within the library. 

Friday, June 29, 2018

Remembering Private Ryan : Jack Ryan VC and his Kangaroo March mates


Private John Ryan VC

In September this year, a  statue of Jack Ryan VC will be unveiled in Tumut. Jack Ryan was awarded a Victoria Cross for his actions on the Hindenburg Line in September 1918. Jack Ryan organised a small group of men to counter attack the Germans, showing immense courage in a seemingly hopeless situation. The men with Ryan were Fred McAlister, Jimmy Marshall and Harry Klein, who were awarded Military Medals for their part in the counter attack.

From: The Daily Telegraph, October 1919

Karen Kell, a member of the Jack Ryan Statue committee, is looking for relatives of the men, who would like to attend the unveiling in September. You can contact Karen and register your interest in attending, by email:  JackRyanStatue@gmail.com . Karen is also looking for stories, photographs or any other information about Jack Ryan, Fred McAlister, Jimmy Marshall and Harry Klein to help fill out the story of their bravery under fire.
Jack Ryan's life ended sadly- he had great difficulty after the war, coping with trauma suffered during the war. He died in Melbourne in 1941, of pneumonia. People did think of him and try to help, when they could, as evidenced by the following excerpt from the Tumut and Adelong Times in 1929:


The Wagga Wagga City Library has books on the Kangaroo March, and Wagga's (and the surrounding district)  contribution to World War One. Here is a selection you may be interested in reading:


The story of how men in the country were recruited in World War One is detailed in this comprehensive study, which includes photographs, maps, popular enlistment song lyrics and images of postcards and posters of the time. The full details of Jack Ryan VC's courageous actions on the Hindenburg Line are here also. This edition is from 2006.



above: detail from The Kangaroo March


The Kangaroo March souvenir edition by Sherry Morris , 2014, is a small edition of some of the information about the Kangaroo March and to commemorate the reenactment of the Kangaroo March in 2015. 


Karen Kell brought my attention to this book, which she discovered during her research. It also has the story of the events on the Hindenberg Line that earnt Jack Ryan the Victoria Cross. His companions are also mentioned therefore.This book is written from the perspective of the creation of the 55th battalion of the AIF in Egypt through the journey to the battles on the Western Front. 

As always, these books are available to borrow or view within the library, if you would like to do a little of your own research before the unveiling of the Jack Ryan VC statue in September. 






Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Bygoo, Barellan, Ardlethan : local histories from the Wagga Wagga City Library local studies collection



The Wagga Wagga City Library local studies collection has a number of local area histories, which I often highlight on the blog, and the following cover  neighbouring areas around Wagga Wagga.

Bygoo and beyond, by Rob Webster, 1985 


Rob Webster  (also the author of  The first fifty years of Temora, which you can borrow from the library) has written a history of the Merool district, the Indigenous name for the creek that runs between the Murrumbidgee and Lachlan rivers. Interestingly there is an entire chapter on anthrax, which was prevalent through Grong Grong and Ganmain in the 1880s, to name but two stations affected by the disease at the time.


Map of station boundaries 1889. From Bygoo and beyond 


Early days in Barellan and district : compiled by V P Carroll, R G Sutton, C J Irvin ( Barellan Show Committee) circa 1975


This book consists almost entirely of extracts from Gow & Gow's Quarterly Gazette, which was a magazine/paper produced by George and Annie Gow of Barellan in the 1920s. George Gow was a station manager, then real estate agent, then stock and station agent, finally becoming a property owner in 1917. There is a brief history of Mr Gow and his family at the begining of the book, 
then the magazines are reprinted in full with photographs of the time. George Gow wrote most of the "articles" under pseudonyms, with a literary style endeavouring to match the character he took on, like Old Timer, Greybeard, or even "Sourdough". It's an entertaining, if sometimes historically or factually inaccurate, read.



Above : detail from Early days in Barellan and district


Poppet heads and wheatfields : a history of Ardlethan and district, South-West NSW, compiled by the Book Committee of the Back to Ardlethan Week Committee, edited by Roy H Taylor, 1985



This book covers nearby Mirrool Creek, Moombooldool, Beckom, Bygoo and Ariah and their agricultural beginnings as stations, as well as focusing on Ardlethan's story. The official start of Ardlethan as a village was in 1908. There were diverse businesses in the town's early days, including a brickworks - of which, according to the authors, there is little known about it's history- only the ruins remained. The genealogy of the London Inn is also mentioned.



Detail from Poppet heads and wheatfields : Charlie Freeman and family crossing the Mirrool Creek


As always, these books are available to view within the library - spend a few hours time travelling with these interesting local histories.


Above: from the Wagga Wagga Advertiser, November 1907