Roslyn Russell, Kylie Winkworth
© Commonwealth of Australia, 2010
ISBN 97 80977544363 (pbk)
Advocacy and resourcing
The significance of an item or a collection can be a persuasive argument for investment in the collection, its building and the organisation. A well-reasoned statement of significance provides an authoritative basis for arguing against an item's disposal or the dispersal of a collection.
Saving the Noel Butlin archive
Map accompanying report of John Henderson, Colliery Manager, 8 May 1827, 78/1/2, Private letters received by the Governor of the Australian Agricultural Company from the General Superintendent in Australia, ff. 186–189
Reproduced courtesy of Noel Butlin Archives Centre, Australian National University
The archives of the Australian Agricultural Company (1824–1995) comprise a business record unparalleled in Australia. The AA Company is Australia's oldest agricultural company. It operated wool and coal industries in the nineteenth-century; made important contributions to the development of the cattle and wheat industries and to communications; and still operates today. It has conducted its business in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory; and it also has close connections with principals and merchants in Great Britain and the United States.
As well as providing evidence of the origins and development of a nationally significant business enterprise, the archives contain sources on the history of land use, the early history of roads and railways in NSW, interactions between business and government (colonial and national), European–Aboriginal contact, family history and labour relations. The records that have been selected for retention as the Company's archives are the most complete of any body of business records in Australia.
Some years ago the Noel Butlin Archives of Business and Labour at The Australian National University was threatened with closure. The Assessment Committee for the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register had recognised that the Noel Butlin Archives Centre held a nationally significant collection, that of the Australian Agricultural Company.
The other successful nominations at the time when the Australian Agricultural Company records were listed on the Australian Memory of the World Register all came from major national cultural institutions—the National Library, the National Archives and the National Film and Sound Archive. One of the arguments used in the defence of the Noel Butlin Archives Centre when it was threatened with closure was that it was the custodian of nationally significant collections, up with the best. The Memory of the World assessment of national significance confirmed that position.
The significance of the Australian Agricultural Company records formed an important part of the successful argument against closing their custodian organisation, the Noel Butlin Archives Centre.
Significance in action
Significance assessment applications and case studies
- Conservation treatment
- Collection risk assessment
- Collection care
- Copying and digitisation
- Collection analysis and policy development
- In situ collections
- Shared collections
- Exhibitions and interpretation
- Online exhibitions
- Online access and education
- Assessing cultural heritage website quality
- Nominating to a register
- Applying for a grant
- Advocacy and resourcing
- Fundraising and promotion
- Thematic studies and regional surveys
- Collections mapping
- Significance training