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Welcome to One-Place Studies in focus brought to you by oneplacestudy.org

This is where the spotlight can be shone on individual studies, individual one-placers or aspects of one-place studies you may wish to explore further

Saturday 21 March 2015

Issue 6

In this issue, we travel to Western Australia to visit award-winning one-placers Carnamah Historical Society and learn more about their virtual museum and virtual volunteering

Carnamah is a town and farming community 300 kilometres north of Perth in the Mid West region of Western Australia.

August 2011 …

Virtual Museum: Ready Made Farms

Are you there? A call from Australia!

100 years ago a call was put out for the British to buy a Ready Made Farm and immigrate to Carnamah, Winchester or Coorow. 20 families did, and for almost a decade their lives became entangled in a railway company who like themselves knew very little about Australian farming.

We invite you to take a look at Ready Made Farms - the latest addition to our Virtual Museum.

In focus’ is intended to shine the spotlight on individual studies, individual one-placers or aspects of one-place studies you may wish to explore further.

Would you like to be featured in future issues? Then email us now!

Copyright © 2015, Carnamah

All rights reserved.

With special thanks to Andrew Bowman-Bright

April 2013 …

Regional Agricultural Show Schedules - 18 Now Online

The schedules from local agricultural shows provide a wonderful snapshot of the past. They list financial members, officials, donors, judges and are filled with advertisements of local businesses. There are also adverts for businesses in Perth and Geraldton who were wanting to promote to local markets.

We are pleased to reveal that we've recently made 18 of these insightful booklets available online. We've tried to make the selection as broad as possible with a spread from 1933 to 2012. We've also included one from Mingenew, two from Three Springs and two from Coorow.

Links to the schedules can also be found within our Virtual Museum. You're welcome to download any of the images - simply click on the image to bring it up full screen, click "View all sizes" near the top right corner and then choose what size/quality you'd like to save.

The above schedules were made available as part of a project funded by the Department of Culture and the Arts aimed at sharing and promoting more of our collection to broader audiences. The project also included the creation of six new virtual museum exhibits on our website:

●  Midland Railway  ●  Roads to Government  

●  Business Houses  ●  Carnamah Post Office  

●  10 Macpherson Street  ●  Toys

May 2012  …

We're Recruiting Virtual Volunteers!

We are a small organisation hoping to keep up the pace at doing big things, and request your assistance whether you are near or afar!

The team working on preparing information for the Coorow-Waddy, Carnamah-Winchester and Three Springs databases presently stands at a grand total of two - it's highest number to date! We are very keen to increase the content and and names represented in this rich and nationally unique resource.

We are hoping to index Commonwealth Electoral Rolls for the subdivision that our districts fell within. The benefit is that instead of having a massive pile of electoral rolls we will have a list of names, their occupation, address and the range of years they were enrolled. This information can then be directly and very quickly added to the databases.

So how can you help? We will send you electoral roll images and you simply add the details to an online document. If the details are already there (from an earlier or later roll) then you only need to add the year! We will be very happy to acknowledge all assistance received on our sources page.

Update 20/08/2013: You can now volunteer online at our Virtual Volunteering website.

November 2012 …

Subdivision of Irwin by Virtual Volunteers: E-F Now Online

Back in May 2012 we put the call out for virtual volunteers to help index Commonwealth Electoral Rolls for the Subdivision of Irwin. Six months on we can report that the first 25 years of rolls have been indexed and are now going live! The indexed data is being used to enrich the Coorow-Waddy, Carnamah-Winchester and Three Springs databases. It is also being shared online as it's a historical resource in its own right!

We owe a multitude of thanks to the wonderful people who assisted us from near and afar! From Carnamah to Perth, around WA, to the Eastern States of Australia and overseas to England - thank you:

Brandon Holmes, John Rydings, Katya White, Leigh Mackintosh, Lesly Singleton, Lorna Bradley, Marcia Watson, Margaret Gillingwater, Maria Wimbridge, Mary Clews, Noel Callow, Quoy Bradbury, Ross Croft, Roxy East, Sandie Keeble, Sandra Cole, Tamara McPhee and Teresa Gumina.

The Biographical Dictionary aims to chronicle the lives of people with a connection to the shires of Coorow, Carnamah or Three Springs. These shires encompass the towns and places of Arrino, Billeroo, Carnamah, Coorow, Dudawa, Eganu, Eneabba, Five Gums, Green Head, Gunyidi, Inering, Kadathinni, Leeman, Marchagee, Prowaka, Three Springs, Waddy Forest and Winchester.

There are some entries for individuals from the neighbouring shires of Perenjori and Mingenew, which include Bunjil, Caron, Latham, Mingenew, Perenjori, Strawberry and Yandanooka.

August 2013 …

Launch of Australian Curriculum resource for Milk Cream & Butter

We launched the first of our Australian Curriculum education resources at the 2013 conference of the History Teachers' Association of Western Australia.

Amid champagne flutes of chilled milk and gifts of butter we revealed the education resource that accompanies the Milk Cream & Butter virtual exhibit on our website.

The first resource, and another eight which are on the way, provide information, activities and worksheets for teachers that can be used from the classroom with content on our website. This makes them useful for schools located anywhere in Australia!

They are mostly suitable for lower primary years and directly connect to the new Australian Curriculum.

If you use our Milk Cream & Butter resource we'd appreciate your anonymous feedback via our very short feedback form.

We'd also love to share any work created by your students here on our blog.

March 2015 …

Suite of Australian Curriculum Education Resources

In partnership with Ignite Your Audience we have developed a suite of nine freely downloadable Australian Curriculum education resources. However, they're museum resources with a difference! They can be used with school visits to our physical museum but can also be utilised from classrooms anywhere in Australia with our award-winning virtual museum.

If you're a primary school teacher then we have something for you! Resources from Foundation to Year 6 include an overview for teachers, worksheets, activities, extension ideas and their connections to the Australian Curriculum.


November 2011 …

Inside History: Calling Carnamah Home

Well aren't we just a bit excited!

Carnamah, our society and our website are featured over a two-page spread in the November-December 2011 issue of Inside History magazine.

Inside History is an Australian and New Zealand publication for those interested in genealogy, history and heritage.

May 2012 …

One Year, 40 Posts and in the Top 50

One year ago on 9 May 2011 we launched our blog with its first post entitled The Decision to Blog! We're pleased to mark this year old milestone with our 40th post.

We're also very excited to reveal that we're one of three societies that made it into Inside History magazine's Top 50 Genealogy Blogs, as compiled by Jill Ball. The Top 50 appears in the latest edition of Inside History, pictured below, which has just gone on sale online and at newsagents around Australia and New Zealand.

October 2014 …

We've been named in Inside History's 2014 Top 50 Blogs!

We're delighted to reveal that our blog has been named in Inside History magazine's Top 50 Blogs for 2014. The Top 50 takes a look at some of the best blogs by Australian and New Zealand institutions, organisations, genealogists and historical societies.

We're honoured to make the list for the second time, having also appeared in the inaugural Top 50 in 2012.

May 2014 …

We've come home with a Museums & Galleries National Award

The Museums & Galleries National Awards (MAGNA) are held each year during the annual conference of Museums Australia. The 2014 conference was in Launceston, Tasmania and we had a very exciting reason to attend.

In early May our Virtual Museum: to be known and distinguished as Carnamah was short-listed for the Permanent Exhibition or Gallery Fitout section of the awards. We were in exceptionally fine company with most of the other finalists being state and national institutions.

"A small society with an innovative solution to extending their audience and sharing a larger proportion of their collection with the community. The website is very creative with excellent production values and interpretative images and narratives." - MAGNA 2014

"The Museums & Galleries National Awards program encourages excellence and recognises the significant positive impact of our highest achievers in contributing to the sector by establishing benchmark excellence in Exhibitions, Public Programs, Indigenous projects, and projects and developments that promote ethical and sustainable practices." - Museums Australia

At a ceremony in Launceston on 17 May, following a few failed attempts at pronouncing Carnamah, we were announced the Level 1 winner!

August 2011 …

Virtual Museum: Milk, Cream & Butter

Milk, Cream & Butter is the second installment to our Virtual Museum. It explores the process from milking a cow through to wrapping up the butter. It features ten local objects that were involved in addition to articles, advertisements and photographs.

It also touches on how these commodities impacted on people's lives.

For Mrs Mary Lang it was a lengthy part of every day, while for Carnamah child Vida Wells it was annoying and time consuming task. Then there's Bonny, the cow of the local baker, whose death made it into the headlines of the regional newspaper!!

You can see our Milk, Cream and Butter exhibit on the Virtual Museum section of our website.

February 2013 …

Virtual Museum: The Midland Railway

These days the Midland Railway doesn't do much more than transport grain but when it opened in 1894 it dramatically changed Carnamah's position. The district went from a place of great remoteness to one connected by rail to Perth and Geraldton. Over the years the railway has served many purposes, played many roles and remains significant today. We're delighted to invite you to check out our fourth virtual exhibit.

Our Virtual Museum is undergoing a rapid transformation thanks to support from the Department of Culture and the Arts. The Midland Railway is to be shortly followed by another five new virtual exhibits and the online publication of 18 agricultural show schedules from Coorow, Carnamah, Three Springs, Mingenew and the North Midlands.

February 2015 …

Help choose our future online exhibitions!

In 2011 we began a small Virtual Museum with three online exhibitions - Macpherson Family, Ready Made Farms and Milk, Cream and Butter. In 2013, with thanks to support from the Department of Culture and the Arts, we expanded with another six covering the Midland Railway, Roads to Government, Post Office, Business Houses, 10 Macpherson Street and Toys.

We'd like to open up the future direction to you - our online patrons!

We've come up with a list of potential virtual exhibitions but want to know which ones you'd like to see most.

Check out the options and cast your vote.

Which online exhibitions would you most like to see?      

    A Musical Past

    Second World War

    Off The Shelf - what did they read?

    A Domestic Life

    Farming: from the axe to 50,000 acres

    Brownies & Scouts

    Bulk Wheat Handling


    A Country Education

    Mysterious: the Masonic Lodge

    The Life of Children

    She was in the Red Cross & CWA

    Sewing and Fancy Work

    Sport: leisure and competition!

    Tools of the Workshop

    Horsepower / Power of Horses

    Early first aid and local medicine

    Before Electricity!

Cast your vote

July 2012 …

Carnamah to Online: Virtual Ticket to Our Collection

We will also be digitising and publishing online 18 booklets, most of which will be agricultural show schedules from the past century. Show schedules are an often overlooked treasure that provide an annual snapshot of local trade and businesses. We are looking forward to delivering a selection of them from cupboard shelves to wherever you are!

Our thanks go to the Department of Culture and the Arts (DCA) for supporting us in this exciting project.

August 2011 …

Carnamah's Virtual Museum

mu·se·um /myo͞oˈzēəm/

Noun: A building in which objects of historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural interest are stored and exhibited.

Traditionally a museum has been a building, and it has housed objects that are actually there. The internet offers new opportunities! Today we have uploaded the first theme to the Virtual Museum section of our website. This section will tell five very different but connected stories that have had a strong bearing on Carnamah and its past.


The first theme is now live on our website! It includes photographs of some very unique objects in addition to historic portraits, photographs and a map. Together they tell the story of the Macpherson family who immigrated from Scotland to South Australia, and then onward to Western Australia.

Through the unfortunates of debt and fire the Macpherson family were evicted from the property they leased at Newcastle, in the Toodyay district. They moved to the then wilderness of Carnamah where they made not only a name for themselves but also the name for the district.

The Carnamah Historical Society was founded in 1983 to collect, record, preserve and promote local history.

As this feature will show, the small team at Carnamah achieved what they set out to do, but much more besides, combining local history and genealogy and taking their one-place study to new heights through the power of the internet and virtual reality!

The team has won several major awards, and deservedly so. We’ll watch their progress with keen interest.

Andrew Bowman-Bright

Virtual Curator & Historian

George Fowler


Jill Tilly

Secretary & Historian

The feature includes extracts from just some of Carnamah’s many excellent blog posts and should give all one-placers, no matter where located in the world, some serious food for thought!

The Carnamah Museum was established in 1992 at 10 Macpherson Street. An extension to the museum was officially opened in September 2012.

The museum’s collection includes artefacts, photos and documents from Carnamah’s social, domestic, commercial and agricultural past.

The yard and sheds are filled with an array of old machinery, tools and implements.

The museum is open on Fridays from 1.30pm to 5pm or at other times upon special request. Entry is free. You can also visit the Macpherson homestead built in 1869.

Too far away to visit?

Don’t worry! You can visit the Virtual Museum instead ….

July 2012 …

Carnamah to Online: Virtual Ticket to Our Collection

We are delighted to announce that we are a recipient of funding from the Department of Culture and the Arts (DCA) under their Connect Community Collections Funding Program 2012. Our funding is to assist in the development of additional virtual exhibits and the online digitisation of historic booklets - both with the purpose of promoting our collection to a broader audience.

A new virtual ticket to our collection!

The Virtual Museum on our website will receive an additional six exhibits. Two of these themes will combine objects from our collection and that of the Shire of Carnamah.

March 2015 …

2015 Western Australian Heritage Awards

The finalists for the 2015 Western Australian Heritage Awards were announced this morning. There are 43 finalists across eight categories (listed in full below).

We're honoured to be featured on the list for community organisations.

April 2013 …

Listen to Carnamah's History from 6PR Interview

Andrew S. Bowman spoke with Steve Gordon on The Way We Were program on 6PR 882 AM radio on Sunday evening 3 March 2013.

For half an hour the airwaves were filled with talk of Carnamah's history and development along with what the Carnamah Historical Society has been up to.

We're pleased to make a recording of the interview available online via this MP3 audio file link.

“Carnamah has one of the best documented histories, in fact I would go as far as to say the best documented history in Australia, certainly on a website available to the public and that’s thanks to an extremely passionate historical society.”  

- Steve Gordon.

September 2011 …

One-Minute Video on Carnamah

Not familiar with Carnamah? You can now get a quick insight by watching the below one-minute video. This clip and others for Coorow and Eneabba can be found on the new videos page of our website.

December 2012 …

Thank You

Thank you for your patronage and support. It's been an honour to share and promote local history with you  - whether you've read our blog, been to our website, followed us on Twitter, liked us on Facebook or visited our museum.

We thought we'd search around on the internet and see what others have been saying about us. It's been a very humbling experience. We'd like to also thank those mentioned below, and many others, for their kind words and the publicity they have provided.

Geraldton Newspapers, through thewest.com.au, ran a story on International Museums Day, which included:

"During the last year a dedicated band of volunteers from the Carnamah Historical Society have contributed almost 3200 hours of time working in the museum and at Macpherson homestead, keeping both sites clean, welcoming visitors, replacing the museum ceiling, and working on their website and social media. They also have objects, photos and stories in the new Landmarks gallery at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra and were the first Historical Society in the Mid West to create their own Facebook page."

In discussing their need for a new history publication the City of Belmont looked at alternatives, which wrapped up with:

"More ambitious is Carnamah Historical Society’s website, which offers a number of brief histories and a ‘virtual museum’ with interpretation of key objects in the Society’s collection. This website is integrated with their Facebook page, blog, Twitter account, and Flickr photo album. All in all, Carnamah Historical Society offer an excellent example of the use of social media and new communication technologies to reach a much wider audience than was previously possible."

Included among the posts on our Facebook page:

"... one of the best kept, easily traversed, beautifully built websites I have had the fortune to read…"

"Just found your website ... I must say a big WOW, you have a fantastic website and are using web 2.0 and history in a fantastic way. Keep up the great work. Well done Carnamah Historical Society."

"This webpage is a credit to its makers and should be held up as an example of how to make local history widely accessible and interesting. Well done!"


The dictionary incorporates the former Coorow-Waddy, Carnamah-Winchester and Three Springs databases and is an ongoing collaboration between the Carnamah Historical Society & Museum, the North Midlands Project and you - the general public!

Entries vary in detail from one to 400 lines. You can help improve the dictionary by contributing information, recollections, photographs or by undertaking online research as a volunteer.

See example page below:

May 2011 …

History – the missing link!?

Words? Surely not. It’s a museum... it should be about objects, items and maybe old photographs. Some words are permitted, but only to interpret or describe an object in the collection. Anyway – people go to a museum to look and see, not to read!

It may be wise to remember that most small museums across metropolitan and regional Australia were established by historical societies. These societies were normally founded to document, preserve, research, publish and promote local history. This is well served with a museum and a museum is a worthy endeavour, but what about that history?

What about the items not in the collection? What about the people – upstanding, struggler, ordinary citizen or otherwise – who don’t have any connection to any of the museum’s objects? Are their stories not worth telling? Are we only interested in a story that has an aesthetic object to accompany it?

We've tried very hard to keep some of our focus on history, and not just running our museum. Objects in our collection tell some valuable stories, but we want the whole picture. We also want to preserve otherwise unrecorded history just as we want to preserve the objects in our collection.

Our way of doing this has been to compile a database of past residents. It’s an ambitious endeavour, but we’re trying to tell the story of everyone who has ever lived in the district. Rather than document the history by chapter we instead decided to do it person by person.

The result? Well we think it’s working! Everyone and everything wins. Our museum and its collection are enriched by valuable information and documented history (so the museum really didn’t suffer for losing some attention!). We get more people interested in Carnamah’s past and wanting to visit our museum. Almost 20,000 people a year look at our database on our website from all over Australia and the world. Best of all – our masses of information is arranged by person, and as a local museum it’s usually a person that our patrons and visitors are interested in.

History (full stop).

May 2011 …

The Carnamah-Winchester Database

Seven years ago we started a website and then wondered what we could put on it. Another member of the Society had begun a database of past residents and I re-formatted selected parts of this to go online. Myself and Jill added to it – new names and new details – and it grew and grew into a massive comprehensive database.

For the two of us it became the priority. We both saw the benefit that a database of past residents could achieve. We’re a local history society with a local history museum – so every bit of information and object generally relates in some way to one person or another. Not only that, but most people are interested in someone, a particular person or family.

What do a lot people do when they get a local history book? They go straight to the index at the back of the book to look up which pages the people they’re interested can be found. So our logic was to compile the history of the district by person instead of by chapter. Obviously we won’t know of every single person but we’re doing our best to discover as many people as possible – from people, postal directories, electoral rolls, rate books, newspapers and many other resources (see our sources page).

We go through a resource and add everything we find about each person under their name. Each fact is on a new line with a source reference at the end of the line. Slowly, line by line, fact by fact, the entries build up to be quite comprehensive, and all fully referenced.

Some have asked why online, it should be in a book. I say NO WAY. The beauty of online publishing is that it can be updated and changed. A book requires a completion date and is quite final. Our database evolves and is continually added to, and can be updated online just as easily. The other big plus is the audience. Almost 20,000 people a year look at our database – that’s a lot more visitors than our museum would ever receive.

This exposure has so many wonderful effects. We get feedback, corrections, further information, new names and photographs. Another equally wonderful benefit is that we create a connection and interest in Carnamah and its past with people who would never have otherwise found us. Most visitors to our website had searched a name with no knowledge of Carnamah or even where Carnamah is! This has a flow-on effect as some of these people then visit Carnamah and our museum.

We have since expanded our coverage to include the original Carnamah Road Board district which encompasses the present-day shires of Three Springs, Carnamah and Coorow.

Editor’s note: The databases are now incorporated into the Biographical Dictionary of Coorow, Carnamah and Three Springs.

May 2011 …

What’s valuable?

In museum collections it can be taxing to assess the significance and value of objects. When it comes to information it seems to get even harder. When documenting information on an object or person how do you decipher which bits of information are worthy and which are merely incidental?

Simple answer – I don't think you can! From compiling databases of past residents for our region I’ve discovered that you can’t actually value information very easily. It is sometimes the most trivial incidental facts that carry the most worth for people.

Initially I overlooked certain details I deemed weren’t worth the time it took to type them. On one occasion I wasn’t sure whether to include something or not. It was a 2nd prize for broad beans at an agricultural show. It was something I’d normally leave out but I entered it in the man’s entry supposing it added something a bit different. A few months later I was excited to be put in touch with the man’s daughter. We had amassed a lot of information on him and much of it was unknown to her – but it was the 2nd prize for broad beans that she was ecstatic about.

So that changed things for us. Any rules about what to include or leave out were thrown aside, and we moved more towards recording “anything and everything” on people. It’s resulted in a massive change to our information. A lot of the trivial bits of information add context and depth to the larger picture.

I recently looked through an old Road Board Ledger. It was mostly lists of figures but towards the back there were a few pages of payments made to locals who’d killed foxes, dingoes or eagles. It’s the perfect example of how a random little piece of information can add that something else. To the database entry of all of those listed on those pages I was able to add a line along the lines of:

    “Paid a 10/- Vermin Bonus by the Carnamah District Road Board in February 1934 for helping to control vermin by killing a fox.”

This does so many things. It reveals a completely different fact about the person, an alternative way they made a bit of money, gives an insight into one of the ways in which vermin was being controlled, and that the Road Board tried to control vermin. One trivial line but lots of value.

May 2011 …

Take that down!

Sensitive information. It can be hard to know what causes offense or what people don’t want published. Online publishing often scares people the most. Publish it in a book and they’re delighted. Publish it online and you’re being disrespectful and inappropriate.

We have all sorts of information on thousands of people on our website – some living, most deceased. We’ve had all sorts of complaints – but probably not what you’d expect!

Most complaints have been about the absence of living individuals in our database. Numerous times an e-mail has come in enquiring why we’ve omitted, left out or deleted someone [read in an angry tone!]. Contrary to the worry of most we’ve actually never had a complaint about entries for living people in our databases. If we did though, I’d happily remove them from our website but keep it on file.

Sometimes offence is caused over the belief something is wrong or incorrect. If you reference you can explain where the information came from and ask for further information. On occasion neither party is right – with the truth somewhere in the middle. Complaints can be a great opportunity to get more information or another perspective.

There was one very unfortunate occasion when we caused enormous distress to an elderly person who was previously unaware of information we had on a parent who had died over 70 years ago. We hadn’t done anything wrong with the information we had, and it came from appropriate sources.

The solution? Don’t be scared. Reference your information. Apologise if you cause offence. The reality is if you’re going to be historically accurate you’re going to offend someone at some point. The past wasn’t always nice and rosy.

Back in May 2011, Andrew Bowman-Bright published four blogs which we have reproduced in full here as they will be of considerable interest to other one-placers wrestling with similar issues today:

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