BITE OF HISTORY: Toowoomba Historical Society president Maurice French, with his recent book The Lamington Enigma, which examines whether the lamington was actually invented by a Toowoomba cook for her employer, Lord Lamington, in the late 1800s. Sadly, it was not.
BITE OF HISTORY: Toowoomba Historical Society president Maurice French, with his recent book The Lamington Enigma, which examines whether the lamington was actually invented by a Toowoomba cook for her employer, Lord Lamington, in the late 1800s. Sadly, it was not.

Computer literate volunteers required for history club

FAMILY history is booming. That's the message from Toowoomba Historical Society president Maurice French.

It appears, perhaps paradoxically, that modern technology has made history more accessible. Sites such as Ancestry.

com, the digitisation of Australian newspapers through Trove, and of most states' birth, death and marriage records, have made it easier for us to trace our families.

As a result, Mr French said, the Toowoomba group was fielding inquiries from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and even the UK and USA.

"As people get older or retire, they suddenly realise their interest in their family's history and they turn to historical societies to meet those needs," Mr French said.

The society does not run a museum, but has a wealth of research information, including an extensive library, newspaper clippings, up to 3000 photographs of Toowoomba and district and private letters and diaries.

All of these resources are put to work to do research on behalf of people who make inquiries.

At the society's June monthly meeting, Mr French was giving a talk on local master tanner Stephen Henry Whichello.

In his research, he discovered the tradesman was an expert in Esperanto, writing many learned articles on this second international language which it was believed in the early 1900s would allow people of the world to communicate.

So, it appears, you never know what history will uncover.

But to do so, the society needs more active members. Currently it has 80-100 financial members and 30-40 attend its monthly meetings, but there are only about 10 active volunteers.

Declining, ageing membership is a problem most volunteer organisations face, but members are needed to continue the society's work.

If you are interested in helping, call 07 4638 7632, email history@ icr.com.au, or pop into the rooms at 49 Lindsay St.

You could even attend the next lecture on July 18, featuring Diana Beal speaking on Black Gully.


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