Curating history in the modern age
Harold Ware on the challenges of historical curation
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.