The historian activist and the Gift to the Nation project: preserving the records of the Australian Red Cross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In 2014, as part of their centenary celebrations, the Australian Red
Cross initiated a project in which it transferred archives to various
national, state and territory institutions across Australia including
the University of Melbourne Archives and the State Library of New
South Wales. The transfer of this voluminous (but not complete)
collection built on earlier transfers of archives to the State Library
of South Australia and the Australian War Memorial. This paper
charts the origins of the plan to donate the records to public
repositories. It interrogates the societal provenance of those collections, recognising that the pluralising of records is an historical
process, in which the agency of archivists, historians and administrators must be understood. An investigation of Red Cross
records in Australia exposes that process in its contingency, inertia
and, ultimately, enthusiasm. The paper also reveals the challenges
faced by voluntary organisations in preserving their records, and
how historians and archivists both can benefit from assisting such
organisations. Finally, this paper argues that the ‘Gift to the
Nation’ project, with its national and international significance,
reflects a shift in our understanding of the First World War to a
transnational paradigm that recognises the important role of
voluntary organisations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-185
Number of pages15
JournalArchives and Manuscripts
Volume48
Issue number2
Early online date12 May 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2020

Keywords

  • archives
  • Australian Red Cross
  • First World War
  • humanitarianism
  • social history
  • voluntary organisations

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