Cu­rat­ing his­tory in the mod­ern age

Harold Ware on the chal­lenges of his­tor­i­cal cu­ra­tion

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE - Jack.Lawrie@cnbtimes.com.au PHOTO: JACK LAWRIE Jack Lawrie

MONTO His­tor­i­cal and Cul­tural Cen­tre cu­ra­tor Harold Ware has al­most fin­ished cat­a­logu­ing the cen­tre’s en­tire photo col­lec­tion dig­i­tally.

De­spite the work slow­ing down due to a leg in­jury sus­tained two months ago, Mr Ware says he has al­ready cat­a­logued 90% of the cen­tre’s photo col­lec­tion.

“I’m try­ing to get ev­ery­thing cat­e­gorised on com­puter so it gives me time for more man­ual work,” Mr Ware said.

“Ev­ery pho­to­graph’s got a num­ber and I’ve got those all tab­u­lated in cab­i­nets.

“I started this his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety back in the ‘60s and I worked at it con­stantly; there wouldn’t be too many peo­ple who wouldn’t know me.”

The photo col­lec­tion cur­rently lines the wall of the his­tor­i­cal cen­tre, ar­ranged chrono­log­i­cally to chart the growth of the re­gion since the early coloni­sa­tion.

But Mr Ware is not blind to the his­tory of the indige­nous pop­u­la­tion and has a sec­tion de­voted to pre-set­tle­ment his­tory.

“I spend a lot of time out run­ning around look­ing for things for the Abo­rig­i­nal sec­tion,” he said.

“Search­ing for caves, pick­ing up relics and small things peo­ple don’t gen­er­ally think about.”

A huge ar­chive of pho­to­graphs ex­ists, with much of it on dis­play in the cen­tre, as well as a sig­nif­i­cant cat­a­logue in stor­age.

Cur­rently, Mr Ware is work­ing on up­load­ing a col­lec­tion of old photos of Monto Hos­pi­tal.

The 87-year-old has been an in­sti­tu­tion of the his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety since its for­ma­tion in 1968.

Around town, he’s known as Spook and al­though he’s get­ting on in years and los­ing his hear­ing, the cul­tural and his­tor­i­cal com­mit­tee has had noth­ing but praise for his tire­some work as cu­ra­tor.

At the min­utes of the last an­nual gen­eral meet­ing held on Satur­day, pres­i­dent Trevor Pin­cott ex­tended a note of thanks to Mr Ware for his ser­vice.

“I’m not go­ing any­where,” was his re­ply.

He has re­ceived nu­mer­ous hon­ours for his con­tri­bu­tions to her­itage preser­va­tion, in­clud­ing a Se­nior Cul­tural Aus­tralia Day award in 2015 and an Hon­orary Pro­tec­tor-ship of the Na­tional Parks & His­tor­i­cal Wildlife Ser­vice Queensland.

He also boasts hav­ing served in the air force and is an ac­com­plished hy­draulic builder and rope­worker.

While he may be proud to boast, Mr Ware said he ad­mit­ted he was con­cerned about the fu­ture.

“I broke my leg a cou­ple months ago, and I just haven’t had time to scratch my­self,” he said.

“I’m the last one of the orig­i­nal his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety left, and I’ve been at this cat­a­logu­ing for two and a half years and nowhere near fin­ished.”

The plan is for this dig­i­tal photo cat­a­logue to be made avail­able for view­ing at the Monto li­brary.

It can be viewed, along with the rest of Mr Ware’s cu­rated goods, at the his­tor­i­cal cen­tre.

I started this his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety back in the 60s and I worked at it con­stantly; there wouldn’t be too many peo­ple who wouldn’t know me. — Harold Ware

NOT LEAV­ING: Harold Ware founded the his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety in 1968.

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