Our records and archives in Talana Museum are a priceless treasure. I started work at this museum in January 1983 and our entire archival collection of documents fitted into 2 apple boxes, when we moved from the 2 classrooms in an old school building, to the present site of the museum in March 1983.
Today these records fill 4 rooms. We hold the only collection of the Dundee Courier newspaper - from the 2nd edition in July 1901. These have an incredible amount of information about our town, country and people.
The collections of military history about our area are amazing. Unpublished diaries, photographs, letters, official documents - we've got it all. Family histories of the people who have in Dundee and the area - not only paper documents and photographs but early voice recordings - I was amazed the afternoon I realised that I was listening to the voice of the man who owned the Dundee Courier in 1910 - one hundred years later.
With the death of Ken Gillings a renowned military historian in KZN, no university or library would accept his 50 years of research material. After a number of approaches to the museum, by military historians and military history groups, we agreed to accept the information and create a series of memorial archives. Ken's collection was an unbelievable wealth of information and took 22 months to sort and classify. Part of this collection was 1071 photographs - many that had never been seen and which came from other private collections.
Steve Watt spent over 40 years of his life recording the graves and memorials to all British and colonials soldiers in South Africa. Once again we have been tasked with the saving and protecting of this incredible archive of research and wealth of material. It is a task that must be done, regardless of the cost in terms of creating the archive and in manpower (or in our case womanpower) to protect and preserve this priceless information.
If you would like to offer your services to read newspapers and extract information for the databases, classify and check fascinating collections of photographs or record the thousands of documents in these and other collections - please contact us and offer us some of your time. Every couple of hours a week makes a difference and will help preserve the lifetimes' of work that dedicated people have put into preserving a record of our past.