David what is your role with the Glenside Historical Society?
I am the President but really the Society has been in recess for along time in terms of meetings and agendas. We mainly organised tours & genealogy searches plus kept an eye on the museum items collected over the years waiting for a proper place to display them which didn’t happen.
When did you join the group ?
I joined in about 1975-76.
Are you able to tell us a bit about the group?
There are only a small group of members as such. It is hard without a presence within the Glenside Establishment to keep it viable and people do not turn up for working bees etc or even to presentations.
When was the society formed and why?
It was formed in 1975 or thereabouts and it’s purpose was to safeguard the history of mental health in SA with wards being closed down and patients in larger numbers moving out into the community.
What sort of role has it has over that time?
We used to have monthly meetings for the first 15 or so years but when staff began to retire and move off campus we all became dispersed and we adopted a more educational role with professional students and the general public whilst still advocating for a Health Museum In SA which we wanted to be an integral part of.
What sort of historical material and information does the group have?
We have an extensive photo collection and printed government material of the change process over the years plus a collection of ECT machines and their development over time, We have a lot of primary material useful for historical research but our archival material in the main has all been
transferred to State Records. We only have about 2 % of the 3D objects we used to have prior to losing our museum site in May 2012 and unfortunately only about the same amount was agreed to be stored by the History Trust.
David I understand that the Glenside Historical Society has been altered a fair bit in the process of re-development at the Hospital. What do you feel is the future of the group?
The future of the group as such is grim. I fear it will remain a Society in name only though as individuals within its umbrella we will continue to educate people and do what we can. It will be hard to provide displays within the new hospital as we have no idea what will be provided re space & security. Our most positive change is to be able to set the Mortuary back up as it was (more or less) when in operation (no pun intended). We could have done this even better if we had been briefed on it’s fate before we emptied our museum. It seems nobody wants to be honest or transparent these days and are too busy watching their backs &/or not making decisions – perhaps I am just burnt out and cynical but I find it tiring having to work under such conditions. The Mortuary will look good though we are still awaiting the keys that have been promised so we can access it again. It was repaired but power and water were disconnected – luckily it was designed with only natural light as the option.
Do you think that information such as what you have is important for the future? Should it be kept alive for future generations? And how should be able to access to information?
Yes I do – though how it will be safeguarded in the future is still a worry. I am hopeful that current discussions over a health museum arising out of the closure of the old RAH will bear fruit & we can perhaps make use of space there too. The alternative that our SA Medical heritage Group is developing is the concept of a virtual museum with digital records – we (I) are yet to really develop this for Glenside but I am not dead yet. Yes & Yes to the next 2 Q’s.
You mentioned you had historic records on file, what were you hopes for the future for these records? And how helpful have they been for the general public.
I have 15,000 admission from 1842 to 1915 on a spreadsheet that I had originally intended to publish but I may in the end make this into a digital / electronic DVD. I was going to publish it with a short introduction but then thought about adding photos and more material and then got distracted by digitalising our photo collection and other pursuits. I was also going to use this as a basis for a PhD but may focus on another aspect of history. My biggest task for the public is answering genealogical requests from family members which have averaged about one a fortnight since the 1980s all on the period covered by my spreadsheet. This has been provided at no cost to the public – they have been very grateful in the main.
And how could someone find and get in contact with the group?
Getting in touch with the group is not feasible for the reasons above but people either contact me directly having learnt of me via the web or they contact my associate Rob Adams.
To contact David Buob from the Glenside Historical Society please click here.