Historical Significance Reports for Items Donated to the Griffith Pioneer Park Museum

I didn’t realise how valuable the opportunity to reflect on this experience would be until I overcame the past few chaotic weeks leading up to the final submission of this project. While it has been far more pressure than I expected, I am truly appreciative of what I have learnt about Griffith and the importance of preserving local Australian history more generally as well as the historical skills I have developed as a result of conducting my own oral histories. I feel that my emotional engagement with the ethics of historical practice is greater as a result and that putting my academic skills to the test has made them far more suitable for various educational and historical functions beyond the university landscape.
My work with Bonnie and the Griffith Pioneer Park Museum has reminded me not only of my passion for curation but also of how important it is to preserve our local history. The site is responsible for preserving the agricultural, social and cultural heritage of Griffith and the surrounding Riverina region, an area I have come to realise through the process of interviewing for this project goes far beyond my knowledge of my own ancestral history in the town. While I was drawn to the organisation due to my personal connection to Griffith, it wasn’t until I read Beth Gibbings’ piece on SIEV X that I realised that it is possible to advocate for the significance of a historical place, event or object without being directly connected to it. While I agree with this, I do also feel that my connection to Griffith made my connection to the interviewees more natural.
I feel a great deal of responsibility knowing that Bonnie is relying on the quality of my academic skills to provide accurate information regarding three collections which have been recently donated to the museum: a cement mixer, optical equipment and telephone exchange equipment. I have worked hard and hope that the reports I have compiled are a reflection of this.
Bonnie’s obvious passion for history and its preservation has been inspiring over this semester. More than anything, I was appreciative of the opportunity to collaborate with someone who is a recent history graduate. Her drive to contribute her time and knowledge wholeheartedly to Pioneer Park has given me the confidence to pursue a career in a field where permanent jobs are often hard to come by, something that has previously intimidated me. While I came into this project being fairly inexperienced in the practice of oral history and interviewing, I am glad that I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone and believe that I have strengthened these skills as a result.