Australian Red Cross donates 100 years of memories to University archives

October 14 / 147

A collection of one hundred years of photographs, records and treasured objects that tell a significant story in Australia’s social history has been donated to the University of Melbourne Archives (UMA).

The donation comprises the Australian Red Cross national and Victorian archives and heritage collection and includes: Governance records (minutes and annual reports); publications and newsletters; executive correspondence series; records of Red Cross awards and honours; activity and project records such as World War Two Prisoner of War index cards, fundraising and appeals records, training records and handbooks; photographs, posters and press clippings; branch unit and region records; and film, audio and audio visual collections.

University Archivist Dr Katrina Dean said the University was honoured to accept the archive as it was a significant piece of Australia’s social history worth preserving and sharing with future generations. 

“It’s an exciting acquisition for the UMA and Cultural Collections. Through correct academic cataloguing and preservation, the archives will be prized by social and historical researchers, as well as members of the community seeking family history or community group information. The collection will also be used to support teaching and learning.

“Today marks the start of a five year process to handover, catalogue, curate and digitise the collection.” 

Australian Red Cross CEO Robert Tickner said Red Cross was honoured the University would curate its archives and make them available to future generations, so they could tell the organisation’s stories in new and different ways.

“We could no longer afford to maintain our extensive archives, so we decided to make this donation as a gift to the nation, to preserve and share our great Australian story of the extraordinary generosity and compassion of everyday people helping people over a century,” Mr Tickner said.

“The Centenary of Australian Red Cross is a remarkable milestone in our social history, and our archives hold the stories of how generations of Red Cross people and events forged our proud legacy.

“Australian Red Cross was born just days after World War One broke out, and by World War Two we had become Australia’s largest charitable organisation. It’s hard to imagine another time when so many ordinary Australians will be united around a humanitarian cause.

“There are echoes of history, such as the hundreds of Voluntary Aides who carried out first-aid, home nursing and domestic duties to help control the spread of the world-wide Spanish Flu pandemic after World War One, just as today our brave aid workers are fighting the spread of Ebola in West Africa. 

“Over a century Red Cross members and volunteers have been the lifeblood of our movement. Preserving and sharing our archives is an important way to give thanks and honour their legacy,” Mr Tickner said.

UMA is one of the largest university and collecting archives in Australia. The acquisition of the Australian Red Cross national and Victorian archives makes a major contribution to the holdings of community organisations, alongside archives of the University, business and labour.

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