The Children’s Hospital at Westmead wins second Heritage Grant

The small but committed, Children’s Hospital at Westmead’s Heritage Committee who look after the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children archive dating back to 1880, have won a second grant from the National Library of Australia. 

The grant was announced at the National Library of Australia in Canberra on October 30.

Grants worth almost $383,000 were distributed to 61 community groups and organisations from around Australia to assist in the identification and preservation of community owned but nationally significant heritage collections.

Anne McFadden, Heritage Committee Chair, said the Community Heritage Grant Program was crucial in helping preserve the Hospital archive.

“It provides funds that can’t be sourced elsewhere. Last year we received a Significance Assessment Grant which paid for a historian to evaluate our archive against a fixed set of criteria. The archive was assessed as having National Significance, the highest level of Significance, which means it must be preserved for future generations.”

This year’s grant, a Preservation Assessment grant provides for a conservator to inspect the archive to determine which objects, photos or documents are most at risk of deterioration or environmental damage.

The Committee was also awarded a subscription to eHive, an online catalogue portal, which will allow researchers, students and the general public to see what the archive contains.

“One of the first things we’ll add to the catalogue is the Penicillin Papers”, Anne said. The Penicillin Papers were rediscovered last year and reveal how Penicillin was first administered at the height of the war, to a six-year-old boy who lay dying in hospital, suffering from severe pneumococcal meningitis.

“There’s been so much interest in the story, that it will be fantastic to have images and transcripts of the letters and documents online, she continued. We also have a lovely note from Florence Nightingale. The archive is rich and alive with the history of the hospital, its nurses and doctors and of the many donors and benefactors that have supported the hospital since 1880”, Anne said.

The Community Heritage Grant Program is managed by the National Library of Australia. It is funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Communications and the Arts; the National Archives of Australia; the National Film and Sound Archive; the National Museum of Australia and the National Library of Australia.

See the full list of grant recipients