Western Australian Biographical Index (WABI) Cards
A number of years ago the State Library of Western Australia, with support from the fantastic Friends of Battye Library, digitised a wealth of historical information contained across 70,000 WA Biographical Index (WABI) cards, which had been compiled by Rica Erickson during the 1970s. Although digitised, this phenomenal resource remained largely useless due to its size (lots of images rather than lots of physical cards). Multiple groups of volunteers worked tirelessly and succeeded at transcribing, checking and approving all 70,000 cards. The State Library of Western Australia have made this momentous work available on data.gov.au and it has also been made into a free searchable database by the Western Australian Genealogical Society.
Virtual Museum: First World War
In 2015 we co-created an online exhibition looking at five soldiers who lived in the North Midlands of WA before or after the First World War. The exhibition was added to the Carnamah Historical Society & Museum’s award-winning Virtual Museum: to be known and distinguished as Carnamah and can be seen at www.carnamah.com.au/first-world-war
A number of groups of volunteers worked on transcribing and text-correcting articles and advertisements from different historic newspapers from the wheatbelt and Mid West regions of Western Australia. This work has made these newspapers incredibly more useful and searchable to both researchers and the general public. Collectively over 1.5 million lines have been checked and text-corrected, described by the National Library of Australia as “a wonderful achievement”.
The newspapers worked on, which everyone can now thoroughly search on Trove, are:
- The Midlands Advertiser
- The Moora Herald & Midland Districts Advocate
- The Geraldton Guardian
- The Geraldton Guardian & Express
Early WA Post Office Directories
Perhaps even more ambitious than the WABI cards, our volunteers are working on transcribing and indexing the historic Wise’s Western Australian Post Office directories, held by the State Library of Western Australia. For many years these have been one of the most frequently used items in the library’s heritage collections – but finding what you’re after across thousands of images through five decades is both tricky and time consuming. Upon completion the State Library will transform the work into an online searchable database.
One of the first war memorials erected in WA was in a fact a cottage in the Perth suburb of Mount Hawthorn! It was built for a returned soldier from Gallipoli and the cottage this year celebrated its centenary. A group of volunteers researched and compiled information on the history of ANZAC Cottage over its 100 years as well as contextual information about Australians at Gallipoli and the community of Mount Hawthorn. The wealth of information gathered was used to enrich the cottage’s centenary celebrations and is now available at both ANZAC Cottage and within the City of Vincent’s Local Studies Collection. Some of the info gathered was used to prepare the below crosses for commemorations at the cottage.
Early Motor Vehicle Registrations in WA
A group of volunteers have transcribed and indexed all of the early motor vehicle registrations in Western Australia for years between 1917 and 1928. The resulting body of work is a hugely popular index of 80,155 entries, which has been published on the website of the Carnamah Historical Society & Museum. It is a useful resource to anyone with an interest in the history of their family, local area or early vehicles in WA. It includes the name of the vehicle owner, their address, make of their vehicle, its number/license plate and the local authority it was registered with.
Commonwealth Electoral Rolls
Volunteers are presently checking and amalgamating data from 70 years of historic Commonwealth electoral rolls from the subdivisions of Irwin and Moore, which span large amounts of the Mid West and wheatbelt of WA. The data will be incorporated into the Biographical Dictionary of Coorow, Carnamah and Three Springs; will be published as a searchable and browseable index on the website of the Carnamah Historical Society & Museum; and will be provided to multiple heritage organisations and museums across the Mid West and wheatbelt.
First World War
To mark the centenary of the First World War we have undertaken a research project to gather information on all soldiers from across the North Midlands who served in the war. Information is being gathered and processed from the National Archives of Australia, the Australian War Memorial, State Library of Western Australia, Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the National Library of Australia. The resulting body of work has been deposited at the Carnamah Museum and provided to other heritage organisations across the Mid West.
Swan Rate Books
Council rate books might sound boring but they are packed full of valuable information that engages people with local history and fosters a real and valuable sense of place. Volunteers are presently transcribing the early rate books of the Swan Road Board, which will afterwards be available within the City of Swan’s local history collection at the Midland Public Library.
Volunteers are busy transcribing and researching the approximately 3,000 burials in Moora, Mingenew, Perenjori, Three Springs and Winchester. Information from burial registers will be combined with photographs of headstones and notices, obituaries and inquest reports from newspapers. Many tragic but also fascinating stories are emerging. The collective work will be published in an online and searchable database during January.
The Brands Directory
During the last century a directory was published detailing all registered livestock brands in Western Australia. It is in effect an index of farmers and pastoralists operating in the state and is a phenomenal source of farm and property names. Once fully transcribed this wealth of information will be transformed into a searchable online index, which will be made freely available to the public on the website of the Carnamah Historical Society & Museum.
Historic Court Registers
Our and the Carnamah Historical Society & Museum's volunteers are helping transcribe and index historic court cases from across Australia. The work undertaken is provided to Griffith University and will be turned into a searchable database that will provide incredible public access to the history of prosecution in Australia. It will also provide statistics on prosecution over time which has the potential to change the way Australia views the criminal aspects of its past.
Thomas the Bushranger
Our major arts project being planned for 2017 is about Frank Thomas, a young 1920s bushranger from Coorow. Although largely unknown today, The West Australian newspaper went as far as making comparisons to the infamous Kelly gang, on 15 November 1922: "The career of the Kelly gang and their decline and fall, is a memorable episode in Australian history, but the chronicler of Australian bushranging may find almost equally excellent material in the exploits of Francis Henry Thomas."
The project will provide a new and mostly unknown WA voice to Australia's bushranging history while shining a light on mental illness and the impressive Aboriginal connections to the story. The project is still being planned but is expected to include an artist-in-residence, community workshops, a physical exhibition, performance, tour and permanent online exhibition.
We are a long-term and ongoing partner with the Carnamah Historical Society & Museum in the expansive Biographical Dictionary of Coorow, Carnamah and Three Springs. The dictionary contains biographical, local and other information on thousands of people with historic connections to the present-day local government areas of Coorow, Carnamah and Three Springs.