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Knox Historical Society digitises, indexes school photo collections

In the 1980s Knox Historical Society began seeking out copies of photo collections held by local primary schools, secondary schools and kindergartens. The area was changing rapidly and preserving the community history that it encapsulated became a priority for the local history collection. Many schools were celebrating centenaries around this time, creating a high demand for school history. High quality copies of the photographs in negative form were acquired by a member of the Society.

An extensive indexing project of student and teacher names was also undertaken to make the 20,000 school photographs accessible to the community. Photos have been digitised and indexed into cataloguing software to create a searchable record and an electronic format that is stored offsite for preservation.

A number of the schools are now closed, or have altered significantly and the Society has become a central repository for their histories.

An added bonus of this high profile project has been donations of school memorabilia. Families have also donated material or allowed copies to be scanned so that the collection is always developing and being enhanced.

Knox Historical Society won a 2011 Sir Rupert Hamer Records Management Award for this project.

1 Comment to Knox Historical Society digitises, indexes school photo collections

  1. Frank Golding's Gravatar Frank Golding
    May 31, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    What an interesting project. As a former teacher I know how interesting old class photos can be at school reunions, school open days and even fund-raisers (photos for sale, guess the ‘old boy’ etc). In all my time, I have never come across any issues related to privacy in these activities. Similarly, I’ve been having fun recently looking at the hundreds of photos of First World War men online from the National Library of Australia. No issue of privacy there either.

    All this is in marked contrast to the attitude adopted by some former providers of out-of-home ‘care’ who have precious old photographs of former residents of children’s Homes that are in many respects the equivalent of school photos. Some past providers refuse to release such photos on the grounds that they will be infringing the privacy rights of others in the pictures. Mind you, I’m not convinced that they have tested the attitudes of those they claim to be protecting. I heard recently of one past provider who released old group photos but blacked out the faces of all the other children. This seems to me to be an absurd obsession with privacy.

    Children who grew up in these Homes are getting on in years now and it’s one of the great joys of their life to be able to look at old photos of children they grew up with. It’s the closest they’ll get to family group photos in many cases. Ballarat Child & Family Services recognise this need and always have their many photo albums out on the tables on reunion days so that old residents can enjoy the fun of naming the young faces of their childhood.

    Perhaps I’m missing something here…am I?

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