Historic society expert gets lifetime member award

September 11, 2016

I majored in history/herstory when I was in university. I consider myself to be a social historian influenced by Sheila Rowbotham, a British historian, with the belief that history needs to (and I paraphrase extensively) be brought down off the throne so we can stomp around in it with our rain boots. In other words, history needs to document the lives and events pertinent to everyone and not just the Royals.

Besides the paid staff in the larger centres, there are volunteers in every nook and cranny of countries worldwide who donate their time to preserve documents about people and events of significance to their communities.

To know about the past, helps us better know what we need to do in the present and strive to prepare for in the future.

The following is an article about one of these volunteers:

Gulf Islands Driftwood

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Historical society expert gets lifetime member award

by Tanya Lester

Frank Neumann has been made a lifetime member of the Salt Spring Historical Society com(SSHS) for his outstanding artistic and intriguing  computer audio-visual skills as an archivist.

“Since coming to the (Salt Spring) Archives in 2001 as a volunteer teacher of computer skills, Frank quickly became an indispensable member of the archives staff,” said SSHS president Bob McWhirter, readings from a nomination statement by archivists Agnes Cunningham, Mary Davidson and Duncan Hepburn at the SSHS AGM.

Neumann indicated to the staff that the digitization of photographs and other records was crucial.

“It was an uphill battle for Frank to convince staff members of the need to catch up to the 20th century,” the statement continues.

The Salt Spring Archives (SSA) website is the centrepiece of Neumann’s contribution, which his nominators describe as an “amazing thing Frank has done.”

Many professional researchers comment on the website’s accessibility and how easy it is to use while comparing it “favourably with university and provincial websites.”

Going to http://www.saltspringarchives.com reveals a site that is made appealing with a number of innovative aspects, including the Salt Spring Bureau of Investigation (SBI) that often reveals Neumann’s sense of humour. Click on this to be informed or add information to something in a photograph like the pipe on a roof at Paul Bion’s place on Epron Road.

Another SBI puzzle to be solved is about the newly renovated small building on Hereford Avenue which once housed the telephone exchange office. Behind it is a building that was a jam factory and one SBI informant remembers “Mrs. Murakami conmenting once that the workers soon discovered that the juice was useful for making wine.”

Also in reference to the Murakamis, Neumann said one important part of digitalizing photographsand records is connected to the destruction of the original documents in the event of floods, earthquakes and fires.

After the Murakami house burned down in 2006, he was able to supply the family with copies of the original photographs that were destroyed in the fire.

Neumann’s work can be viewed regularly in audio-visual support material at SSHS presentations, the Farmers Institute and family, school and church gatherings. Authors, including Chris Arnett, and film maker Peter Prince laud his work.

According to Neumann, he was first introduced to the new technology at the University of Berlin “when the mountains cooled”, which in the computer world was in the 1960s.

By the 1970s, Neumann had immigrated to Canada and was teaching students at Saturna Elementary School to be computer savvy. As a fisherman, he also designed computer programs to log his colleaugues’ catch information in order to determine where fish might be available.

Nowadays, Neumann’s dedication to SSA can be underlined by the fact that five of the organization’s desktop computers and several laptops are housed at his home due to lack of archival space.

He is an advocate for larger SSA premises, and a spot that would ideally be totally wheelchair accessible. Neumann points out someone always has to be there to open the door for him when he arrives at the SSA location in the Mary Hawkins Library basement on Monday afternoons and Thursday mornings when it is open to the public.

Anyone who can help find a roomier and preferably rent-free location or is interested in volunteering at the archives can e-mail info@saltspringarchives.com


More of Tanya’s posts featuring her writing on a wide range of topics can be read by going to teafleaf56.wordpress.com and writingsmall.wordpress.com   She is the author of four books. She now works as a psychic specializing in tea leaf reading and tarot reading as well as psychic channelling and mediumship. Her website is teareading.wordpress.com  Her email is tealeaf.56@gmail.com  Her phone number is 250-538-0086  She has pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google.












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