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This wiki space contains archival documentation of Project Bamboo, April 2008 - March 2013.

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Australian Women's Register - University of Melbourne

Collection Date: 9 December 2008

Scholar #1 Info: (if more than one scholar's process is described, copy this set for each scholar)

  • Name: Dr Nikki Henningham
  • Email: moved to restricted page
  • Position: Executive Officer, Australian Women's Archives Project and Research Fellow, SchoolofHistorical Studies
  • Institution/Organization: The University of Melbourne
  • Field of Study/Creative Endeavor: Women's history

Collector Info (can be the same as "Scholar" above):

  • Name: Gavan McCarthy
  • Email: moved to restricted page
  • Position: Director, eScholarship Research Centre
  • Institution/Organization: The University of Melbourne
  • Name: Joanne Evans
  • Email: moved to restricted page
  • Position: Research Fellow, eScholarship Research Centre
  • Institution/Organization: The University of Melbourne

Notes on Methodology:

Please briefly describe the collection methods used

Collective reflection on a well established collaborative project and an extract from a joint paper of the scholar and collector that has been written for a conference in Istanbul in 2009.


This is the story of the Australian Women's Register, a major project of Australian Women's Archives Project. The register, an online database: collects and aggregates information about women, their roles in Australian society, and the resources in which their activities are documented; Acts as an all-in-one biographical dictionary, women's studies encyclopaedia/compendium, annotated bibliography and guide to records; Supports research, teaching and learning, and community engagement. See: The register was started in 2000 and is an ongoing collaborative project that aims to continue and develop into the future as a perpetual resource of enduring value for scholars and the community more generally.  The following version of the story is taken from: Joanne Evans, Nikki Henningham and Helen Morgan, 'Out of the Shadows: Using Technology to Illuminate Women's Archives', a draft version of a paper prepared for The Problem of Sources in Women's Memory, 20th Anniversary Symposium of the Women's Library and Information Centre Foundation in Istanbul, 17-19 April 2009.

"Established in 1989, The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) is a not-for-profit feminist organisation with a range of interests. Amongst them is a concern that the feminist struggles of the late twentieth century and the historical achievements of Australian women in general will be forgotten with the passage of time and the passing of the baton to the next generation of feminists. With this in mind, the NFAW established the Australian Women's Archives Project (AWAP) in 2000 to build knowledge and recognition of the contribution made by women to Australian public life.  The NFAW's interest in women's history and heritage coincided with the ongoing concerns of academics in this area and the newly emerging fears of a generation of activists of the 1960s and 70s about the safety of their papers, and hence their historical stories. Not to put too fine a point on it, they were worried about who would look after the material, in the process of these women becoming old, senile and eventually dying. One of these women, Mary Owen, an important figure in the Australian women's movement, provided some modest funding to the NFAW for them to investigate solutions to this problem. From this investigation grew the collaborative partnership that now exists between the NFAW and the UniversityofMelbourne. Scholars in the SchoolofHistorical Studies provide leadership in the area of historical research while technical innovation and support to the project is provided by research fellows in the University's eScholarship Research Centre.


The Australian Women's Register contains the basic historical details of Australian women and their organisations, along with the location and content of relevant archival and bibliographical resources, including those provided online and in non-text formats. It provides browse and search facilities, together with links to similar national and international gateways. The Register links information about small and large repositories, can handle the description and display of information presented in a variety of formats, and represents the complex sets of data contained within archival holdings. It provides important contextual and historical information about women, organisations and their sources to a broad, national and international community. As a result, the Register has emerged as an important part of national scholarly information infrastructure. With most Australian universities supporting research in Australian history, politics, Australian studies, industrial relations and economic history, the Register has the potential to be used in a variety of research and teaching and learning activities across these disciplines. As an indication an analysis of the directory of postgraduate research published annually in the Melbourne Historical Journal suggests that at least 250 postgraduate students could use and potentially contribute to the site in any year, while a similar analysis of competitive grants awarded by the Australian Research Council in 2004 found that approximately thirty five of the funded grants could draw some benefit from use of the Register's database."  


The scope section is provided by the collector, with input from the scholar(s), and attempts to estimate the scope of the group that performs the processes described: How broadly do the practices described in this story apply to others in same field, in related fields, etc?

  1. In the opinion of the scholar, who participates in the process the story describes? (e.g. "just this scholar", "many people in the scholar's field of inquiry", "all academics", etc.)
    Participants: scholar (AWAP Executive Officer), professorial over-sight, community governance, research assistants, research associates, informatic specialists, interface design specialists, computer programmers, librarians, museum curators, archivists, and most importantly the general public - especially those women, families and organisations that hold materials outside of the collecting institutions.
  2. What is this process intended to accomplish for the scholar?
    Purpose: to facilitate the study of women's history.
  3. Who is the intended audience of the processes described?
    Audience: Different audiences are reached through various interfaces to the core data. While the resource is widely and freely available it is not just built for scholars and researchers but it is also targeted to schools and university teaching environments, community groups, professional groups (e.g. journalists), government agencies, political lobbyists, etc.
  4. Is this the only process the scholar uses to accomplish his/her goals? No
  5. What "shared services" would help transform the story into something of more benefit for the scholar or his/her audience?  What process or processes in the story could be automated?
    Shared services: Digital citability across resource description and management frameworks is fundamental to the ultimate success of the register in the digital and networked world. What is required is: Persistent unique identification and resolution, both for resources and entities, and the availability of structured information about entities and resources that can be interchanged between systems. In additon, the current method of creating and updating entries and adding linked resources is not geared to collaborative, distributed building of the register and the sharing of knowledge by the wider community who use the register. A set of shared services is needed for creating and updating entries, classifying them and associating them with other entities and resources; also for finding or harvesting and seeding entries with information discovered in other collections and for linking to entities in other collections (for example Australian men or men and women from other countries who might have a relationship with an Australian woman described in the register). Also for enabling the implementation of appropriate trust models that support the moderation of entries and annotations.


Please provide some keywords that will allow us to group or cluster related stories--or aspects of stories.

1. Was this story collected for a particular Bamboo working group?  Delete the working groups that do not apply to leave the keywords of the appropriate group(s).

  • Stories

2. Suggested keywords: Does this story contain elements that could be mapped to these keywords?  If so, please indicate which ones and briefly describe the mapping.  Add any additional keywords in #3. (These are global keywords from this page keywords)

  • Aggregate- for the purpose of identifying and recording defined relationships between entities (people, organisations etc) and resources (archival materials, published resources both available online and those not online)
  • Annotate- adding value to resource descriptions and entity registrations through direct descriptive textual and visual additions to baseline identity metadata and through defined relationships to other entities and resources.
  • Consider- at the fundamental level in the register the annotations and descriptions are highly considered in terms of the core purpose of the register both in terms of style and content.
  • Discover- has a number aspects, the first is the use of existing scholarly infrastructure to locate new materials and entities to be included in the register; secondly, through mapping relationships to discover interconnections between entities and between resources that were otherwise obscured; thirdly, through exposure to public search engines enable the wider community to find information etc.
  • Engage- the register is being produced for the broader community (but is firmly based on the scholarly practice of citation and referencing) and it endeavours to encourage feedback, new data and interconnections with other information resources. The National Foundation for Australian Women is the focal point for engagement with the community.
  • Interact- this is in an early stage of development, utilising search, filter, browse and email feedback mechanisms. It is anticipated that Web 2.0 and online - form-based contextualised user contribution technologies will be brought to the register in time.
  • Publish- the register is published on the web and is available to the general public without restriction. It has been identified that there are print publication opportunities (especially through the emerging print-on-demand technologies).
  • Preserve- new knowledge created through the content development is currently preserved in the sustained server environment provided by the University. It is anticipated that digital repository and preservation technologies will be engaged to provide more sustainable instantiations of the information that are less system dependent.
  • Share- see publish and engage

3. Please list additional keywords here:

Women's history

4. Related Stores: Are there parts of the story that relate to other collected stories? Please provide title(s). 

Australian Women's Register Exhibitions - University of Melbourne [to be provided]

Other Comments:


1 Comment

  1. Unknown User (rjaffe)

    Calls for an additional category, ws-preservation.  (See also, SN-00010, SN-0011, SN-0020, SN-0022, SN-0023, et al.)