The Diocesan Archives Story:
Part 1 - Early Days
Anne Wilson tssf, Acting Diocesan Archivist
In the course of research activity recently, I was asked if all the Diocesan records were in the Archives. This is a significant question about the chain of custody, which is at the heart of what defines a trusted record. As I began a long and involved reply, I thought I would like to make sure of my information. I hope you find the results of the research as interesting as I did.
Historically, Diocesan records were held in the church office under the custody of the Diocesan Secretary, through whom requests were made for information about historical records or offers to donate historical records. The earliest list of archival records, which included some of the earliest parish registers was compiled in 1945.
In 1950, the first formal efforts to preserve Parish Records in a systematic way were made through a Report on the Keeping of Church Records sent as a circular to clergy, which was recorded in the Diocesan Yearbook 1950, p74.
Some years later in June 1968, prompted by a visit to the Diocese by “Professor Bolton from the University, Miss Lukis from the State Archives and the Revd. H (sic) DeQ. Robin”, further efforts were made to locate all the Diocesan records which were “scattered around the Diocese”. Professor Geoffrey Bolton was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australian 1984, for his distinguished services to education. He was a hugely influential person in researching and promoting Western Australian History. His memorials in Western Australia include the State Records Office annual Geoffrey Bolton lecture series and the Murdoch University Geoffrey Bolton Library.
Miss (‘Mollie” Meroula Frances Fellowes) Lukis was appointed as the first State Archivist in 1945 and retired in 1971. She was also a much admired and revered influence on the development of both libraries and archives, with her obituary appearing in both the Australian Library Journal and Archives and Manuscripts. the journal of the Australian Society of Archivists. Her obituary describes her support to many organisations and is, in itself, a fascinating history of service to Western Australia.
Reverend Dr Arthur de Quetteville Robin, was Sub-Warden and Chaplain at St George’s college in Crawley from 1969-1978.
From March 1971 correspondence between Diocesan Secretary B. H. Houston, The Revd R. J. Greenhalgh and Mollie Lukas, Librarian, Battye Library, documented the initial transfer of historical records from the Anglican Diocese of Perth to the Battye Library. This was also the beginning of the project to make the records accessible through microfilm.
7 May 1970 Diocesan Council. On the advice of Bishop Rosier, Council appointed The Revd Ian George (Convenor) Miss M. Lukis and Mrs Doris Lee to a Committee to examine further the question of Diocesan Library and records. We owe Bishop Rosier, The Revd Ian George, Miss Lukis and Mrs Doris Lee a debt of gratitude for their foundational work. A short biography by Fr Ted Doncaster, (A-K of Clergymen) shows Bishop Stanley Bruce Rosier to have been a very well-educated man who, among other appointments, preceded our Bishop Jeremy James to the Diocese of Willochra in 1970.
Fr Ian George was an accomplished lawyer, theologian and art critic, who eventually became Archbishop of Adelaide in 1999. We are also indebted to Fr Ted for this information.
Fr Ted (Venerable E. W.) Doncaster himself was an early archivist, following A.E Williams, and has continued to research and provide valuable information to the archives.
Unfortunately, I have no information about Mrs Doris Lee but would appreciate receiving any information about her.
In 1971 of the first substantial transfer of parish records was from the Trayning Anglican Parish, which also included Bencubbin-Nungarin, Kununoppin, Mukinbudin.
Gradually, further transfers of records were made from parishes. In 1975 a large collection of Diocesan historical records from Church Office was transferred to the Battye Library.
Follow the link below to Anglican Church listings in the Battye Library.
Anglican Church | State Library of Western Australia (slwa.wa.gov.au)
In 1996 Synod approved the Records and Archives Statute 1996. From here on has been a steady development of the Diocesan Archives as it is today.
Look out for Archives story, part two of the next month.