Queensland State Archives unearths hidden treasures
- Last updated:
- 24 March 2022 9:48AM
- First published:
- 9 November 2021 12:09PM
Michelle has worked at Queensland State Archives for over 5 years and says the records they hold are fascinating.
“The place is full of lots of stories and on the face of it, these records look quite plain and pedestrian but when you dig a bit deeper there’s a lot hidden in the records and the stories we uncover are amazing,” she said.
“We have about 3 and a half million records here, so if you lined it all up, end to end we’ve got 70 linear kilometres worth of records.”
The Queensland State Archives hold the permanent records of the State Government but are used for a variety of purposes.
“Family history is probably one of the most common things that people come here to research, but it can also be used for publications, authors writing books, or for legal research like Native Title,” said Michelle.
“It wasn’t the primary reason why people started collecting this material in the archives but it’s often a more accurate capture of what took place than secondary sources, so they do become really valuable for historical research as well.”
For Michelle, unearthing hidden stories are the best part of her job.
“The records that I enjoy the most here are the records that tells stories about people’s lives,” she said.
“There’s a lot of records that disclose secrets about people’s lives here and finding that information can change their life.
“I often think about a man who came in with his adult daughters. He grew up in foster care - he didn’t know where he went to school, didn’t know who his carers were, but he found that information in our records.
“It changed his life; he knew a bit about where he grew up and who he grew up with. That stuff is in our records and it’s amazing when people find that sort of thing in our collection.”
Queensland State Archives actively shares interesting material with the public through social media and exhibitions.
“We have exhibitions, sometimes hosted here or sometimes we share material from our collection with other organisations,” Michelle said.
“We recently exhibited our Moreton Bay penal colony records with the Museum of Brisbane as part of their exhibition.
“We also share records with the public on social media platforms.
“They’re really popular, people like to browse through things like our Flickr album or our Q Album platform.”
Find out more about the Queensland State Archives.
Find out what Michelle loves about the Queensland State Archives
At Queensland State Archives we have about 3 and half, almost 3 and a half million paper records here, if you lined it all up, end to end we’ve probably got almost 70 linear kilometres worth of records here.
Queensland State Archives holds the permanent records of government and they need to be permanent records that are of enduring historical value to Queenslanders.
So, this is a prison record.
It tells you the name of the prisoner, but it will also tell you things like whether they have any significant marks or if they had tattoos or significant scars.
It will also tell you what they did, what their crime was and what their punishment was.
It provides a level of transparency about government decision-making and government actions over time.
So, it’s a source of truth about the actions and decisions of government.
For me, probably the best thing about the archives are the stories that are buried here.
On the face of it, lots of these records look quite plain and pedestrian but when you dig a bit deeper, there’s a lot hidden in the records and the stories that we uncover are amazing.
And finding that information can change people’s lives.