Brigid Whitbread has no idea how a historic Queanbeyan document landed in Canberra’s Green Shed – she’s just hugely grateful it did not end up as a landfill.
The document is a World War II certificate presented to Bert Sheedy, one of Queanbeyan’s leading historians. His authorship forms the cornerstone of the city’s local history collection, ranging from books, Moneroo to Monaro: History of Monaro Street, 1830s-1995 and Queanbeyan, to his work on the three volumes of Queanbeyan: Pioneer Cemeteries, Funeral and Index.
He also recorded a number of oral stories about Queanbeyan, which are kept in the National Library of Australia.
Such is the value of Sheedy’s work that Brigid Whitbread, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council local history librarian, literally “screamed with joy” when she saw what Sandie Parkes of Green Shed had not only saved from the landfill, but donated to the council. collection.
“Bert’s family had donated filing cabinets full of local and family history, so it’s worth its weight in gold to receive this document,” Brigid said.
“He was a great advocate for Queanbeyan,” she said. “His authorship is the basis of our own local history collection here.”
Such certificates were presented to personnel serving in World War II by the councils of Queanbeyan Township and the Shire of Yarrowlumla.
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Bert Sheedy served with the 3rd Australian Infantry Battalion and the 7th Australian Machine Gun Battalion AIF in New Guinea.
He was awarded the Medal of the British Empire in 1972 for his contribution to local history.
Brigid said such documents would normally go to the city’s museum, but given Bert’s connection to local history, the framed certificate would remain with the library’s local history collection.
“It’s usually my boundary line – I keep the documents. But with this, I just could not get rid of it, “she said. “It is such an important part of our local history collection.
“It is in remarkably good condition considering its age… there is only a tiny bit of fox. But we plan to stabilize it. “
The certificate will also be reassembled in its frame to ensure that it holds for future generations to see it.
Brigid said the connection formed with Sandie and Green Shed was invaluable to the library specifically and local history in general.
“We are so grateful that she took the trouble to pass this on to us,” she said.
Brigid said in today’s world that people seemed to have more of a sense of urgency when it came to getting rid of “things”.
“Like when a person dies, for example something that may be important to them, not necessarily in terms of money value, but what is the best plan for it, where should they pass it on to? We do not want these things to end up in the landfill.
“It only takes one generation to lose a story.
“Someone like Bert is a good example. When I started researching him, I found it quite difficult to find much information at all. It became clear that he was not the kind of guy who liked to blow his own trumpet. “
But she found out a few interesting facts. “It turns out that his family has been in the region since the mid-19th century. Apparently he was born under the wagon his family traveled to take sheep to the Sydney Show.
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This is not the first time Sandie from Green Shed has recognized the value of an item and ensured that it found its rightful home.
Last year, she unveiled a 1885 bank book, complete with names still recognized in Queanbeyan today, by John Gale, founder of Queanbeyan times newspaper.
“It’s in great condition,” Brigid said. “We have determined that it is a Bank of NSW ledger. Interestingly, the person’s credit limit is at the top of every page in the general ledger. In 1885 the Queanbeyan Council was there, but as it was in its first year of operation, it did not have a large limit.”
Bert died in 2000, but thanks to Queanbeyan Library’s local history collection, his story lives on.