Photograph of the Repository, University of Melbourne Archives

Meet an Archivist: Georgina Ward

Photograph of Georgina Ward

Today is #International Archives Day and we’re profiling Georgina Ward, Assistant Archivist at the University of Melbourne Archives.You might have met Georgina on the front desk of the Reading Room.

What’s been your most surprising discovery in the repository?

Honestly, for me the most surprising discovery in working with historic records is how they reveal injustices of their time that still exist today.  For example, at UMA we have a series of political posters collected by the Victorian Trades Hall Council Arts Office dated 1975-2004; these were produced by many organisations advocating for child care, refugees, sexual harassment, black deaths in custody, renting rights etc. What is surprising for me is to learn how slow progress is, decades on those exact same issues that are still being campaigned.

Is there someone you’ve discovered in your work who you really admire and if so, why?

One archivist I really admire is Kirsten Thorpe (Worimi, Port Stephens NSW) who advocates for a ‘transformation of practice to centre Indigenous priorities and voice in regard to the management of data, records, and collections’.  In recent years I have been involved in improving access to child welfare records held by UMA and have been highly influenced by Kirsten’s recent work on the Charter of Lifelong Rights in Childhood Recordkeeping in Out-of-Home Care for Australians and Indigenous Australian children and care leavers.  She is inspiring because she successfully facilitates change.

What key piece of advice would you give to a student looking at a career in archives?

I would advise that students place importance on networking, seeking out and engaging in professional development and listening to community needs. Having a broad understanding of the political and ethical landscape and being educated in international contemporary archival practice and of archival practice will ground you in what is a really rewarding professional experience.

You can learn more about the Archives and the work of Georgie and her team here.

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