Sandpiper: Catholic Diocese of Sandhurst

FEBRUARY 2019 WWW.SANDPIPER.ORG.AU “The love of Christ overwhelms us …” 2 Cor 5:14 The roll of the Diocesan Archives Office is to collect, preserve and manage historical material from all parts of the Diocese so that the story of the Diocese will be recorded and available to future generations. The archivist has a number of responsibilities. They include being responsible for the physical care of the collection – making sure that the collection items are housed appropriately in archival boxes and sleeves and removing objects such as metal paper clips, staples and rubber bands. Knowing which records are housed in which boxes and developing and utilising systems and finding aids for that purpose is crucial to the day-to-day running of the archive. The archives database captures digital records, enabling searches to be undertaken in a timely manner. Advocating the diocesan archive with other collecting institutions and researchers is also vital. We do this by being open to the public by appointment and speaking to community and interest groups when invited. Research enquiries are always interesting and come from a diverse range of people from Australia and overseas, particularly Ireland. Researchers are usually trying to find something or someone that has been lost, most commonly an ancestor, family member or friend and occasionally an object. While we do not undertake family history research per se, and we strongly adhere to privacy legislation, the records that we can share do occasionally provide strong clues for those searching. Items in the archive often provide a conduit for researchers. A Will, a piece of correspondence, an article, a Parish history, a photograph, a sacramental baptism, marriage or death registration can provide a clue that will lead to an answer for researchers or at least, a trigger for further investigation. Lost and found. Often people have very common names, so looking for them in the public domain can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. A family from Ireland contacted me recently to ask if the archive had the Will of a deceased diocesan priest, their great-great uncle. They wanted to know if he mentioned a certain niece in the Will as the family had lost all trace of her since her arrival in Australia around the turn of the century! The Will was located and the woman in question was mentioned in the Will, importantly, her known address was listed as a town in the Diocese. This enabled the family to hone in and search for her civil death registration. Unfortunately, finding it showed that she had died of old age in a mental institution. The family will now pursue her inquest record, mental health record and cemetery record to find more of her story. Over the course of many years, another Irish researcher has been looking for a controversial play, ‘Advance Australia’ written by his great uncle, a diocesan priest by the name of John Joseph Kennedy. The priest was a noted WWI war hero receiving the DSO (Distinguished Service Order) for his role at the Battle of Fromelles and, after the War, became a noted anti-imperialist. There was one performance of his play in 1920 at Bendigo’s Princess Theatre, which caused widespread sectarian and political demonstrations. Despite many attempts to help, we have not been able to locate the play, however. Recently, a beautiful original photograph of Kennedy was located in the archive and sent to the researcher who is writing a book about his infamous great uncle. Contributors to the archive have usually found or discovered something that they would like to share. Recently, another Catholic Archive discovered a very old crucifix in an associated community house and contacted me. The metal and timber crucifix had a brass plaque attached that was inscribed, “Used by Dr Backhaus the Parish Priest of Bendigo or Sandhurst”. The archivist wanted to establish provenance for the item and I was able to find articles, correspondence and sacramental register information proving that Backhaus and the O’Keefe family (who had originally donated the item to the other archive) were close associates. This has been a most exciting discovery. The archive takes donations of collections from people who have personally collected various paraphernalia associated with the life of the diocese. Recently the archive acquired a large collection from a deceased estate and the items included many small devotional objects dating as far back as the 1870s. Many were delicately hand-made by an order of nuns who have been present in the diocese for over 130 years. Some of these items are also quite rare. Other donated collections include photographic collections, pre WWII educational ledgers, personal letters, postcards, decorative items and items connected with past parish events such as St Patrick’s Day and church fundraising events. History; collected preserved, protected For enquiries regarding the collection items and research material in the Diocesan Archive or to offer a donation to the archive collection, please contact the Diocesan Archivist, Dr. Donna Bailey. Phone 54453611 or email donna.bailey@ sandhurst.catholic.org.au NEWS 13

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