Our Main collection area is for the history of Kununurra - Tropical Agriculture and the Ord River Irrigation Area - As this is tied inextricably to general Kimberley and Northern Territory history (with our proximity to the WA/NT border - ~30km away) and because most 'places,' towns, missions, stations, Aboriginal Communities, in the Kimberley/NT do not have a historical society or archive to collect on their behalf, so we collect all aspects.
Being about 800 km from Darwin and 100km from Wyndham, the Wyndham (WHS) & Kununurra Historical Societies (KHS) are over 3000km from Perth, where most of our State-based records are located, I know the tyranny of distance to research our own history, having spent much spare time in Perth at the WA Museum, the WA State Records Office and the State Library of WA (the latter couple facing a funding crisis), and other institutions, photographing hundreds (thousands?) of fascinating records, diaries and photographs. It is almost ten years that KHS has been doing things like this with some volunteer assistance to ; scan slides prints and documents ; to OCR text and correct from images of text documents ; or to transcribe hand-written diaries to get them into functional, illustrated, electronic document formats.
I believe it is important to be able to research Kimberley history here in the Kimberley, so have actively collected relevant digital resources from online and offline primary sources to build up an ever-expanding digital archive for KHS, on all aspects of Kimberley and relevant Ord-Victoria - Northern Territory history.
Having around 2000 photographs from KHS collections online to date, with the approval and assistance from other KHS members, I would like to see KHS formulate a plan to start placing the KHS archive listings online and start making even more of our own digital archives accessible to all.
The Kununurra Historical Society would like to encourage ALL Australian collecting institutions, Universities, State Records Offices, Libraries, Museums, Archives &c. to target records from isolated places (such as the Kimberley Region) as a priority in digitisation programs and place these online. For most people in the State (living in Perth) it is easy enough to go to the Alexander Library building, but for people of Kununurra and Wyndham it is a 6000km round trip - This is not fair or equitable on researchers from these isolated regions, even today in 2015 - How does that sit with the policies of institutions regarding access to collections? - AND/OR - Consider, actively assisting extremely isolated organisations such as KHS, to repatriate digital copies of records relative to Kimberley History, when needed or required.
These days with more and more records being digitised, institutions of the State and Australian Federal Governments should welcome this form of accessibility by actively encouraging the sharing of their collections freely with the people of the regions where those records originated, and are most difficult to access. If you or your institution have built up Kimberley history sources and resources in a similar way, consider sharing those with the Kununurra Historical Society's digital archive for use on digital displays for researchers at the Kununurra Museum as a local repository for the region they are from.
[Extract from draft President's Report (Andrew Barker) - April 4th 2015]
Kununurra Historical Society is a volunteer run not-for-profit organisation and registered as a Deductible Gift Recipient
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