The State Library of Western Australia’s Migration Voices collection of oral histories will be recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) under its Australian Memory of the World Program (AMW). The program is aimed at identifying and safeguarding significant documentary heritage materials of national significance to Australia.
The Migration Voices oral histories are drawn from the collections of five institutions – the State Library of Western Australia (SLWA), the State Libraries of New South Wales and South Australia, the National Library of Australia and the South Australian Migration Museum. The component from SLWA includes more than 430 interviews with stories of migration to Western Australia ranging from the 1900s to the 2010s.
Migration Voices is a distributed national collection of first-person accounts exemplifying the long history of immigration to Australia from many countries of the world. The collection tells both individual and collective stories which embody a successful tale of national cultural diversity, the maintenance of cultural traditions, adaptation and adjustment to life in a new country and what it means to become Australian.
The addition of Migration Voices to the AMW register recognises the national significance of SLWA’s collections, and the contribution the library’s collections make to preserving and revealing Western Australia’s rich history and stories.
An inscription ceremony for the addition of the oral histories to the AMW register will be held in Sydney on February 27, 2019.
As noted by Culture and the Arts Minister David Templeman:
“It is a rare honour to be added to the UNESCO AMW register. The inclusion of these oral histories is recognition of the national importance of SLWA’s collections, and the contribution the library’s collections make to maintaining and sharing the diverse history of Australia.
“Some of the oral histories added to the register have been digitised and, where copyright permits, are available online for anyone to access via the State Library’s online catalogue.
“SLWA has the oldest institutional oral history program in Australia, collecting and producing oral histories for over 55 years.
“SLWA’s total oral history collection contains over 8,000 first-hand accounts of the memories and lived experiences of Western Australians from all backgrounds and walks of life, in almost 18,000 hours of recorded audio.
“The Migration Voices oral histories are a key component of this collection, and reflect on life in Western Australia and its place in the world from the 1900s to the present day.”