The Margaret Henry Oral History Archive

Image courtesy of University of Newcastle

Image courtesy of University of Newcastle

It’s Australia Day, a time to celebrate amazing achievements by Australians and to welcome new Australians to our fold. It’s also a time to reflect on how far we have come as a nation. To do that effectively we can’t lose touch with the past. And what better way to visit the past than by listening to the words of Australians from previous generations who often lived in a very different Australia from the place we know and love?

I moved to the Newcastle/Lake Macquarie region late in 1998 and it took me quite a while to meet people who shared the same interests as me – namely the past. Only a few years ago I met Margaret Henry but as she was such a busy woman I never got the chance to really sit down and chat with her. So it is with much regret that I didn’t discover, until after she died last year, that she had been a history lecturer at the University of Newcastle and that in the 1980s she worked for the Department of Community Programmes where she was responsible for the Open Foundation Course.

“Margaret encouraged generations of Novocastrians to engage in history and the cultural heritage of the region. She loved for people to share their stories, was a good listener, and these oral history interviews are testament to Margaret’s passion for history, and her vision to have these important ‘voices’ documented.”

Here is more about the archive:

“The Margaret Henry Oral History Archive is a collection of audio tapes, transcripts, summaries and essays that were part of the Oral Histories Open Foundation Course (1986-1989). Margaret Henry was a history lecturer at the UON in the 1980s.

Margaret Henry Oral History Archive on Soundcloud

“The wider collection of Margaret Henry Oral History Archive – over 200 interviews in total and with many stories of Newcastle, the Hunter Valley and its surrounds and records voices describing the Regions cultural, intellectual and social life. It is an incredible legacy to Margaret Henry. The original audio tapes and written sources are held in Cultural Collections at the Auchmuty Library, University of Newcastle (Australia).”

Here is a link to the archive at the University of Newcastle Cultural Collections page.

With thanks to Gionni Di Gravio, University Archivist and “Congratulations to Dr Ann Hardy who undertook the complete digitisation project work and the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund that made it all possible.

Here is just a short selection of some of the interviews. Amazing stuff and it’s gratifying to know that all this knowledge has been saved.

A6969 (i)(a) Zaara Street Power Station – Clarrie McLennan – Written Source
Interviewer Louise Parker

A6969 (i)(b) Life story of an Aboriginal Woman – Annie Whilamena Kelly (born of Aboriginal descent) – Written Source
Interviewer Miss Shay Kelly (daughter)

A6969 (ii) Merewether & its Beach – Alice Ferguson – Written Source
Interviewer Trish Pattenden

A6969 (iii) Paediatric Care at the Newcastle Mater Hospital –  Sr. Mary Barnabas Gardiner – Written Source
Interviewer Elaine Perry

A6969 (iv) The Great Depression – Kathleen Jones – Written Source
Interviewer Bob Price

Happy listening and reading and Happy Australia Day!

About Debbie Robson

Author, booklover, bookcrosser and firm believer in synchronicity. There is no such thing as coincidence! I am currently working on a trilogy set in Sydney and Paris during the 1920s, along with poems, flash and short stories.
This entry was posted in Bringing history to the people, Members of our community, Oral history and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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