About the PNGAA Collection – Cheryl Marvell, 2019 PNGAA Christmas Luncheon

Cheryl Marvell speaking about the PNGAA Collection at the 2019 annual PNGAA Christmas Luncheon

Hello everyone,

I have been in the job of Archivist of the PNGAA Collection since the end of August 2019.

The lovely Murrough Benson, our Treasurer, took me through the ropes and showed me what was waiting for my attention in the storage unit at Chatswood where the collection is housed at the moment. My first job was a whole of life bequeath from Geoff Burfoot. Geoff was in PNG from the late 1940’s to independence in 1975. Geoff didn’t have any family and he left his whole collection of files, books, artefacts and personal history to the PNGAA. Many, many boxes. My brother Steven helped me with the cataloguing of everything paper and the learned Robin Hodgson has been invaluable in helping me catalogue and name the many artefacts that Geoff left us. The work continues on his donation and we now have some super 8 films to explore- Steve Gagau has offered to help us uncover what’s contained on them.  

We have also had donations from Joan Stobo (thanks Joan – found your connections to the Girl Guides and your personal letters and cards from BP’s fascinating and a worthy addition) as well as your books of course!

Another early job was arranging for a sizable donation of great books from Peter Worsley and having it transported from Perth to Sydney – so now I have courier arranging skills. Happy to say his donation arrived without any problem.

Frank Leibfried from Tasmania sent us a massive collection of books and files and documents relating to his time in PNG, mining and BHP. His files give us an insight into balancing a business while dealing with the turbulent nature of changes in the natural and cultural world of PNG. He also had quite a few books in Tokpisin.

The last few weeks I have been negotiating with Dr Peter Cahill from Brisbane for his PNG collection. 97 kilos of books -7 large boxes – were delivered to us and we have received some lovely books indeed from Peter and his wife Marian.

Richard Lornie has offered us his Sepik Artefact collection which is presently housed at Knox School in Sydney so we are negotiations with them for a hand over.

I am amazed with the number of books written about PNG. In all the collection I have catalogued so far, we have only two doubles.

The most important thing is that I am not alone in this but have the community of the PNGAA to help. Andrea Williams, always on the lookout for the association – and a wonderful resource, my brother Steven Marvell, Robin Hodgson and Steven Gagau – thanks for your support so far. You are making me look good!

As to where the future of the collection lays, the committee is working on securing a building where we can put on display what we have been gifted. What an amazing library and resource it would be to anyone studying PNG and its history and Australia’s involvement in its development.  In this regard financial donations to the PNGAA are also welcomed.

If anyone is thinking of downsizing or think they have something special to donate to this expanding and outstanding collection – we are always interested. My contact details are in Una Voce. I would be happy to hear from you.

Cheryl Marvell – E: collection@pngaa.net

1 December 2019

Note:  On 18 December 2019 Richard Lornie’s donation of Sepik artefacts was collected from Knox Grammar School. It was a large donation and has been professionally boxed.

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