NSW Rail Transport Museum Photo Archive Gets Digitised
Alex Christopher, Transport Heritage New South Wales Marketing & Communications Officer
This article was originally written for the Summer 2023 edition of Roundhouse magazine
Boxes of coloured slides and photo prints that tell the story of the organisation's history have commenced being digitised. Alex Crozier is the THNSW Collections intern who is taking on the task of scanning and cataloguing the NSW RTM's photo archive, with the view to rehousing the photos and slides in permanent, accessible storage.
The archive includes hundreds of images and has been divided into three categories: NSW RTM history, rollingstock, and people and places. The organisation's history, including 'maintenance in action', is the priority content for the 10-week internship. Some rollingstock images date back to the turn of last century.
With fresh eyes to the organisation, it is interesting to learn what the Master of Museum and Heritage Studies student is seeing through the collection:
"I'm really enjoying getting to know certain faces and names as they pop up over the years. Looking through these photos, particularly those relating to Thirlmere's early years, there's a sense of solidarity and mateship among the volunteers, and a clear picture of how much they've achieved over the years"
THNSW Collections Officer Chris Fielder has supported 12 interns since 2018 - many of whom have gone on to paid employment in the museums sector:
"Alex is doing a great job digitising the collection, which is significant as its the social history of our organisation. The history of our organisation is embedded in the broader story of rail heritage in NSW"
The original boxes were found at an off-site collection storage space, hidden inside other boxes, with no detail or provenance. A few mysteries in the photos may need the assistance of members and volunteers to help answer. "My favourite so far," Alex says, "is a phenomenon in the 1980s where lots of people in the maintenance team started sporting paper hats! I'd like to know where that came from and whether there was a purpose to them.
"My goal for this internship is to digitise the photos and find out as much about them as possible; including the people pictured and the work they're doing. Many of these photos have been published in older editions of Roundhouse, so I've been going through the archive to pick up as much detail as possible"
Once the images are scanned and catalogued, a review of the significance of the collection will be completed. After that, providing online access to the images will be explored.