08 December 2010

Queensland Historical Atlas is Go!

The launch of the online Queensland Historical Atlas.
Last night I attended the launch of the online 'Queensland Historical Atlas' at Customs House in Brisbane. This website has been a long time in the works and is part of an overall grant project of $1M overseen by the University of Queensland and the Queensland Museum.

The QHAtlas combines history, environmental studies, archaeology, anthropology and cultural geography to explore ‘themes in the landscape’, and is intended to "re-comprehend Queensland’s history on a grand scale - spanning historical eras, cultural perspectives and diverse human activities."

I was invited to take part in this project back in 2008, and contributed the page on prison history called 'Stone walls do a prison make'. There are about 100 contributors overall, and the website looks great, containing many articles and thousands of images and maps.

If I had one issue it would be the use of 'conceptual themes' to lay the information out, which I know has caused a couple of non-academic friends to scratch their heads when first looking at the site, but if you just use the in-site 'search' facility you should be able to find a number of links to whatever subject you are after. But then, classification of diverse knowledge is always a challenge, something I learned when creating a new catalogue for the artefact collection at Boggo Road. This little quibble aside, this website is a great new tool for people looking into Queensland history.


  1. Hi Chris - I was browsing around this morning and saw your blog entry, good to see you at the launch last night.
    Is there any way that we can better explain the thematic structure, do you think? the point you raise is a good one, and I think we need to help people into the site a bit more. You can email me directly if you like, all the best, Geoff Ginn

  2. Thanks Geoff,
    I have emailed you, but just to add something else, I remember going through the Boggo Road collection in 2002-03, finding hundreds of unregistered artefacts and documents, and then having to work out a new collection typology to register them all. It took ages, and I still have the folder containing pages after page of scribbled notes as I slowly worked out a way to classify everything. I ended up with a five-tier system, and even then I still wound up with a 'misc' section at the end! There is so much overlap in significance and theme that it really is a difficult task, but I think the QHA staff came up with a good system. I'm sure it would take me another six months to come up with an alternative one, and it would probably be nowhere near as good!