The ancient Egyptians wrote their history on walls, possibly because they knew that if they put it in files, it would be lost forever! Not so for the Australia-Pacific Province (who have no strong connection with the ancient Egyptians despite weird theories to the contrary), who have Fr Frank Freeman as archivist. His archives are a joy to behold.
Frank has been at work for some two years now, building on some earlier efforts to provide an archival system that would stand the challenge of time and necessary expansion. The ‘system’ is basically a Dewey system adapted to the Congregation’s needs, and given its application in this instance, it could be a system others might benefit from. An email to firstname.lastname@example.org would elicit that help.
All correspondence from the beginning of the Salesian presence in this part of the world, provincial newsletters, council minutes, year books, visitations, Chapters, photographic resources and more have been fully listed, registered and preserved in appropriate storage. Appeals have been made to Rectors and confreres – there has been a policy of sensitising everyone in the province to the importance of archives. This has produced fine results. The province now has a valuable historical resource.
Apart from continuing with the unfinished areas and of course the ongoing need for updating of completed areas, another challenge facing our archivist is policy and practice in the ‘born digital’ area. Here he may well be helped by the fact that of all the nations in the world, Australia is regarded as being the leader in this area. The National Archives have processes in place to help deal with the ever-evolving challenge of digital archiving and are offering them free for the use of institutions and individuals.