Over the past five years I have had the good fortune to work with some wonderful volunteers on a history project related to the long-demolished campus of our old school in Camberwell. There are precious-few artifacts remaining of the old Canterbury Road campus of Marcellin College which was sadly sold, then bulldozed, in 1993 to make way for a residential development on the site. This moment in our school’s history goes into the ‘what were they thinking’ category but I am sure there were good reasons at the time.
Our group set about finding, collating and documenting photographs, newspaper clippings, and other source material (such as school reports and journals) that would help tell the story of the school in its formative years.
Just as an aside, the most valuable resources we had at our disposal was the memories and recollections of the volunteers themselves and yes, I was all over that. We recorded MANY precious stories audio interviews.
It amazed me how, at every meeting, someone would turn up with a new collection of rare photos, or obscure original documents such as a 1950s school report or an original newspaper clipping from the Age or the Sun featuring a student achievement.
Some members of the group were good at digitising these things - but more often than not these precious artifacts were carried around (and stored) in plastic A4 sleeves or a manila folder. Which is better than the bottom of a drawer somewhere, but not that much better.
One of the standout pieces is the digitised copy of an 8mm film of the campus shot in 1976 by a parent at the school. The thing about film (moving and still) is that it has stood the test of time. It is the original high-definition format with its rich, warm and colourful grain. We take for granted now the amazing image reproduction capability of our phones and cameras, but in earlier and simpler times, film ruled. Film negatives were almost non-existent sadly with our group - the photos were great but we could have done so much more with neg’s. However our good friend Richard Olive did produce an assortment of 35mm slides which we gladly digitised - Richard was presenting at an alumni night, talking about his remarkable career as a civil engineer and these slides featured him in his working prime.