23 December 2015

Remembering Old Queensland on Facebook

Just below this short article is a list of links to Facebook pages about the history of specific towns, cities and regions in Queensland. The kind of pages with the words ‘lost’ or ‘vintage’ or ‘remembering’ in their titles. The number of these pages seems to be growing all the time so I thought it would be handy to provide a 'one-stop shop'.

These pages vary in size and activity, but together they form a useful jigsaw puzzle of Queensland's photographic history. Apart from bringing people together to think and talk about their memories and local history, they can be incredibly useful for researchers. I wrote an article on this a few years aback for the Professional Historian’s Association, pointing out that Facebook pages can contain a lot of anecdotal material and unpublished photos, and allow researchers to directly connect to people with information.

The experience of some archivists and librarians, however, has not been so positive. I know from personal experience that the advent of the ‘town memories’ pages was met with disdain in some places, with archivist staff (rightly) concerned by the uncontrolled and uncredited online distribution of material that their institutions owned the copyright on. I was working in a municipal council’s digital archive department when a new local history Facebook page started sharing their photos, and I witnessed the archivist’s determined attempts to clamp down on the practice. The admins on that page ended up imposing strict conditions on photo sharing there.

At the same time I was regularly frequenting another Facebook page - for another place - which was having a similar experience with local librarians banning the online sharing of their local history photos.

In my opinion, many major libraries and archives have missed a trick here because these pages actually represent an opportunity to greatly expand their own collections and knowledge base. The true value of the Facebook pages is in (a) having people share old photos from private collections, and (b) people providing new background information for photos (such as names and dates).

I wrote to the relevant archivists about the second Facebook mentioned above, suggesting they implement a sharing scheme in which they make watermarked versions of their images available to share on Facebook, and in return they could harvest the comments for historical data. They might also get permission to access private collections of interesting photos. Unfortunately, I received no reply. In the subsequent years, many people on that page have shared brilliant photos from their family collections, giving new insights into life in the town in decades past. I feel that, for those archivists, it remains an opportunity missed due to professional snobbery.

"What is this 'Facebook' you speak of?"
Fortunately, more libraries seem to be embracing the potential of community engagement with their collections via social media these days.

Anyway, here is the list Queensland pages. I have attempted to locate as many examples of this type of page as I can, but I expect it is incomplete. The little blurbs come from the pages themselves. If you know of any pages that should be here, please let me know in the comments section below.

Please note: I am currently compiling a list of historical society pages separate to this. That article will appear soon.
  • Adavale Outback Queensland: ‘History, Heritage, Stories, Pictures and Memories from the great Pioneering Outback Town of Adavale and district, Western Queensland.’ 
  • Brisbane Memories: ‘Brisbane, a place to live, visit and remember. Regardless of how long you have spent here in this fair city, there are memories that can be shared...’ 
  • Central Queensland Old Pictures and Yarns: 'Old pictures and yarns from Central Queensland'. 
  • Darling Downs of Yesteryear: ‘A blast from the past! Please place your old photos of the Darling Downs here for everyone to see what has changed and what is still the same!’ 
  • Disappearing Queensland: ‘This page is for anyone to share photos or stories of places in Queensland that are disappearing or could disappear at some time in the future.’ 
  • Early Faces of Queensland: 'Sharing Photos of Early Queenslanders Taken by Local Photographers. Brisbane and Beyond. If you recognise anybody in the photos we upload please contact us.' 
  • Gladstone: Remember When: (Closed Group): ‘We all have enjoyed the reflection down memory lane and the current events. So, here is a page for the Gladstone region to your stories, photos, events, history of the region. Please create albums to add your photos, video’s too, share your school Tonkas, find your old school mates and teachers or maybe colleagues you have worked with. Please share your photos for all to enjoy and don’t forget to LIKE the page and SHARE away.’ 
  • Have You Seen the Old Gold Coast: ‘Lets see the old Gold Coast.... Do you have any old pics of The Coast ?’ 
  • Have You Seen the Old Mackay: Promoting the rich history of Mackay and District and preserving the history we have left so it is saved for future generations 
  • Historical Gympie: ‘A place for historical information and photos of the Gympie Region.’ 
  • I Grew Up in the Redlands: 'A place to find your old class photos.Every Redlands shire school has it's own album here.Please look in your old schools album.Sporting Team and old pics of life in the Redlands are most welcome..!' 
  • Ipswich Leftovers: 'Putting photos from Ipswich's past and putting them into photos of Ipswich now. Showing what's gone and what is left of this wonderful historical city.' 
  • Lost Brisbane: ‘Photos of forgotten Brisbane. See if you can recognise the places in the photos, and tag them if you wish. Please feel free to add photos, make comments or relate any memories you might have about the places in the photos. Enjoy.....’ 
  • Lost Cairns: ‘Photographs of Cairns and district, Queensland - in times gone by.’ 
  • Lost Gold Coast: 'Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Please share your Photos and Stories , lets keep the memories alive!' 
  • Lost Ipswich (Public Group): ‘This is a group for remembering what Ipswich has lost. Not to be negative but more to celebrate this towns Past in Stories and Pictures.’ 
  • Lost Logan: ‘Welcome to Lost Logan. Discover a bygone era of Logan. Everyone is welcome to tag photo's and post their own...enjoy!’ 
  • Lost Maryborough: ‘Photos of forgotten Maryborough (Queensland). See if you can recognise the places in the photos, and tag them if you wish. Please feel free to add photos, make comments or relate any memories you might have about the places in the photos. Enjoy’ 
  • Lost Queensland: ‘This page is for places, people and infrastructure no longer in existence or lost in the mists of time in Queensland. Please add anything you feel would be interesting to this page.’ 
  • Lost Sunshine Coast: ‘This group is for sharing, in any format, all the "lost" beings & characters, things, places, events, experiences, memories, memorabilia, & encounters with the Sunshine Coast of Queensland in our past.’ 
  • Lost Tiara District: Sharing local history through photos of the Tiaro District including Tiaro, Bauple, Gootchie and surrounds. Please feel free to add or tag photos, 
  • Lost Townsville: ‘A way for people to share images of Townsville in past times.’ 
  • Old Brisbane Album (Public Group): ‘Old Brisbane Album is a sister group to Old NSW Album, Old Melbourne Album and Old Sydney Album. It is a group to share your memories of days gone by in Brisbane and surrounds, including the Gold Coast.’ 
  • Queensland School Photos: 'Photos from Queensland Schools.' 
  • Remembering the Brisbane Tramways: 'This page is dedicated to the memory of the Brisbane Tramways, which ran from 1885 to 1969.' 
  • Rockhampton: Remember When: (Public Group): ‘…here is a page for the Rockhampton region to share your stories, photos, events, history of the region. Please create albums to add your photos, video’s too, share your school Tonkas, find your old school mates and teachers or maybe colleagues you have worked with. Please share your photos for all to enjoy and don’t forget to LIKE the page and SHARE away.’ 
  • Stanthorpe History: ‘This page has been created to share Stanthorpe History. Feel free to add your pictures, stories, memories and comments about Stanthorpe and its surrounds.’ 
  • Toowoomba: Remember When: ‘Our mission: to help people experience the joy of recalling forgotten, but happy, memories of Toowoomba’s bygone eras.’ 
  • Townsville 100 Years Ago: 'Breaking news from Townsville one hundred years ago.' 
  • Vintage Queensland: ‘If you appreciate vintage photos (pre 1980) ......you will love Vintage Queensland! Feel free to comment and add your own photos if you wish.’ 
  • Vintage Rural Australia: ‘Post your own photos on Vintage Rural Australia: an album of LIFE ON THE FARM, in times past. Share, and save the memories and history with others.’ 
  • Warwick - Pictures From the Past: ‘The history of Warwick, Queensland, Australia... in pictures. Displaying photographs dating back to 1840.’


  1. I've played in a number of 'history' Facebook pages. It been good to see the sharing of photos in collections but as an amateur historian what frustrates me is the lack of credit for photos taken from online digital archives and misinformation which get constantly rehashed.

    Just recently on one page I queried a caption alleging the opening date of a certain building because I had found alternative information in Trove. The response was "I got it (the photo) from XYZ library." No acknowledgement of the source and the original poster hadn't even copied or re-writen the caption correctly.

    Another example, in another group both myself and a number of others were constantly correcting information and often correcting the same mistakes when the images were reposted months later. On that same group when someone would ask an intelligent question the response from the admin was "I'll get back to you on that" which was fact code for "I'll just wait for one of my tame historians to answer your question". This is from someone who has appeared in the mainstream media multiple times being lauded for their photos and their history.

    While I agree with you its good to shake the collective consciousness. These groups have a responsibility to get the information they supply at least mostly right otherwise whats the point?

    1. Thanks Annie. On too many occasions it's been a case of quantity over quality, where the pursuit of quick post and page likes overrides impetus to double-check accurate facts. Some pages are better than others with this. I have seen professional historians arguing long and hard with page admins on this issue. I think page admins should be knowledgable enough on the subject of their page to be able to answer questions and correct mistakes. Otherwise, they're just 'I've got a big page' glory-hunters.

      And as you say, correcting mistakes is frustrating when the same misinformation is peddled again a few months later. I've had real issues with this on one page (not Australian) where an urban myth is constantly repeated, despite me writing a researched article correcting the story.

      Also, it is bemusing to see page admins with no real skills as historians receiving publicity for doing nothing more than copying links of old photos into a Facebook page.

  2. I quite agree with you Annie. A recent post on a popular "Lost" site revealed that a number of photos taken by a prominent photographer of Brisbane in the 1960's weren't credited to him. It seems he took issue with the site and after negotiations the site admins agreed to credit his photos past and future. Yet on another site remembering public transportation the Admin is at pains to ensure the photos are credited where known and listed as unknown if not. I understand that there is an international standard that must be adhered to by all researchers when using photos not of their own in their submitted works. I think it is a sign of respect that these Fb publishers should acknowledge and attribute the photographs they use. After all some of them as Annie points out have gained notoriety on the backs of the original photographers and I wouldn't be surprised some receive financial gain. I think it will only take one of the used photographer's to begin action under copyright to bring this oversight if you can call it that to an end.

    1. Agreed. And thinking about it, there is a real danger that some Facebook pages could surpass professional archives and libraries as popular sources of online information re photos. That people will head to a Facebook page with tens of thousands poorly-referenced old photos, with all kinds of misinformation in the comments, instead of a libray website. As least libraries make a big effort to present all relevant information and acknowledgments.

  3. The comments above remind me of my own mistakes in the past. On one occasion I had copied a link to a photo from the National Library of Australia. It was from a rock concert at Boggo Road in the 1990s. I got a phobne call from the photographer who seemed quite upset that I had shared it. I tried explaining that I saw no problem because her photos from that day were ALREADY available online at the library website, but I took it down anyway because she was upset. And I have had lazy moments in which I've dumped a photo online without due care, before rushing off to do something else. It's a resolution of mine for 2016 to do better in this regard.