19 August 2008

Communities throughout Queensland will breathe life into an online archive featuring more than 900 towns, cities and ghost towns.

The UQ-based Queensland Places project, one of the key projects for the new Centre for the Government of Queensland, supported by the State Government, will be an interactive community website devoted to settlements with present or past populations of 500 or more people.

Announcing the project in the lead-up to Queensland’s 150th anniversary in 2009, Premier Anna Bligh invited contributions from image collections depicting community life or family life.

"Ghost towns, old flour mills, shearing sheds and even the humble vegetable garden can tell the stories that will enliven Queensland's 150th birthday celebrations," Ms Bligh said.

The centre's interim director, UQ’s Professor Peter Spearritt, said the project would be enhanced by illustrations of towns and workplaces over the past 60 years, complementing the extensive photographic collections of the State Library and the Queensland State Archives.

"The pictures will be scanned and returned to their owners, as long as the owners are happy for their pictures to be accessible on the website,” Professor Spearritt said.

"We are particularly keen to hear from people who have coloured slides from the l950s to the l970s that include photographs which show both people and the landscape, including images of changes in land use, climate, social and economic conditions.

"Sometimes the most evocative image of a place might be of a backyard with a chook shed, an outhouse or a large vegetable garden. We need to know the location of the photograph, who took it, and when it was taken.

"Other images might depict the ravages of a flood or cyclone, or a mine closure or other industrial episode that reduced a bustling settlement to a ghost town."

Professor Spearritt said each entry would have between 150 and 1000 words explaining a settlement's growth, decline, and its ups and downs. It would include facts about the economic basis of settlement, features of the place, and the latest population statistics.

UQ staff are also working on the Queensland Historical Atlas project, an ARC Linkage grant with the Queensland Museum.

UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Greenfield said the Centre for the Government of Queensland is a valuable addition to UQ, which celebrates its centenary in 2010.

“The Centre will engage the community in discussion and debate on the institutions and processes that continue to shape Queensland,” he said.

“It will also work with leading national and international organisations including the Mitchell Library, the State Library of Victoria, the National Library and the British Library, with the aim of giving ready access to key documents on Queensland.” The Fryer Library within the UQ Library will develop and maintain a website to make the Centre’s projects and newly digitized resources available to the public.

People who believe they have an item of interest for Queensland Places can contact:
Emma Shedden 07 33651399 or write to Peter Spearritt, Centre for the Government of Queensland, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, 4072, or email p.spearritt@uq.edu.au.