- 29,00 kr
It was just an ordinary, brown Globite suitcase, the sort every kid used to take to school. Inside the lid, attached with sticky tape, was a label with the name `R C Evans'. It looked like a furphy. The case probably had been disinterred from someone's shed, along with the vestiges of a boy's Meccano and his 00 rolling stock, or picked up for a song at a local op shop. More interesting were the papers--bundles of brittle quarto flimsies, neatly typed in double spacing, interleaved with holograph notes and correspondence. Evidently sources and early draft chapters for a book, they revealed themselves on closer inspection as a collection of folklore, remminiscences and `robust little stories' which Mrs A E Atkinson of `The Ranch', Grong Grong near Narrandera, NSW, had put together in the 1930s. (1) A bit of searching established that Mrs Atkinson was Hilda M Freeman (1885-1937), author of the best-selling memoir An Australian Girl in Germany (1916) and a prolific journalist. Keith Swan's widow knew nothing of the papers' provenance. She had found them in a cupboard at the back of Keith's study while packing up his oral history recordings. Presumably someone had given Hilda Freeman's papers to him in the expectation they would find their way to the archival collection he had created for the Wagga Wagga and District Historical Society (WW&DHS) or to the Regional Archives (CSURA) he had established at the Wagga Wagga campus of Riverina College of Advanced Education (Charles Sturt University since 1989). Yet he held them back. Perhaps he retained the case and its contents to peruse them at his leisure, then simply forgot about their existence. Or, more probably, judged them of little consequence for his own research and writing. What makes the Freeman papers interesting, from a collection development standpoint, is that they would have been the only deposit of folklore in any quantity, and the only records created by a woman and a writer, in the WW&DHS collection. Swan's neglect of them consequently raises a number of broader issues about the role of the historian as archival collector, the most interesting being whether it is possible to establish a link between the kind of writing an historian does and the kind of archival records he or she acquires and preserves.