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Joan Armitage, 67, of O'Connor, speaks about her experience as a volunteer oral historian
at Old Parliament House.
Photo: Matt Bedford
Keeping old yarns alive
Inside our institutions
History often focuses on the rise and fall of
those in power.
Joan Armitage is part of a volunteer team of
oral historians preserving the stories of many
people who made Australian federal parliament
tick when it was housed in Old Parliament
The Museum of Australian Democracy's Oral
History Collection gathers the memories of
people associated with the building from 1927
So far more than 299 recordings have been
collected from parliamentary staffers, Hansard
reporters, journalists, caterers, tradespeople,
hairdressers, police, stenographers and more.
Mrs Armitage said she took huge pride in
recording the memories and passing on these
insights about the workings of the nation's first
parliament to future generations.
"It's a huge privilege," Mrs Armitage said.
"The interviews give a sense of what it was
like to work here.
We don't often get to hear those stories and
now they are here in MOAD so people in 50
years' time can hear them," she said.
Mrs Armitage, who spent 16 years as a tour
guide at the Museum of Australian Democracy,
said her interest grew and she volunteered
cataloguing the interviews and making timed
summaries of the content of each recording.
From there, she took up the challenge of
conducting the interviews.
The project's lead historian, Barry York, said
volunteers such as Mrs Armitage were an asset,
contributing their understanding of the building
and era to each interview.
"Ideally you have to match the subject with
the interviewee," Dr York said.
"You need trust as well as background
Mrs Armitage said the personal accounts
added detail -- an invaluable ingredient to
colouring in the history of the time.
"We are interested in how the spaces were
used and what the relationships between
people," she said.
"The print-based records tell you how it was
meant to work, but when you talk to people who
were here it can be different."
If you know someone who you think
should be interviewed, or if you wish to
nominate yourself for interview for the
collection, please contact: 6270 8120 or
LUNDY STANDS DOWN
Long-serving senator to quit politics
ACT Labor senator Kate Lundy will leave
politics at the next federal election.
She is expected to pursue a career in the
Ms Lundy has spent almost two decades in
the Senate, she worked in the construction
industry before she entered politics.
She was appointed Minister for Sport and
Multicultural Affairs by then prime minister
She said she would not anoint a successor
although she knew many capable people.
Ms Lundy said it had been an honour to serve
the people of Canberra and witness the
continued evolution of the city.
Next March will mark 19 years since I was
first elected to represent the ACT in the
Australian Senate,'' she said.
I will work with the ACT ALP to ensure a
smooth transition over the next six months.''
7 - Tuesday, December 2, 2014
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