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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 3, Issue 1, October 1974

Nelson Provincial Museum

Nelson Provincial Museum

Extracts from the President's Annual Report June, 1973

Now that the Nelson Provincial Museum is a reality it is appropriate that reference be made to the part played by the Historical Society in getting this established.

The Nelson Historical Society was formed in 1954 with the object of collecting and preserving documentary material of historical interest, particularly with reference to the northern part of the South Island. Mr J. Stewart and Mr L. W. Field had both made suggestions how collections of material in Nelson could most suitably be preserved.

An able committee was elected with Mr Field as Secretary, a position which he held for some years, while Mr J. A. Jenkins became convener of the Records Committee.

Helpful advice was sought and received from the Alexander Turnbull Library and soon a great deal of material was being catalogued and card indexed.

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Miss Frank signed an agreement to hand over the Tyree collection of photographic plates to the Society and the directors of Hallenstein Brothers generously permitted the collection to remain in their fireproof premises on a rent free basis.

The problem of where to house our material was temporarily solved when the Union Bank made three rooms available at the rear of their premises and a good deal of work was carried on there. Mr James MacKay was there at stated times to receive material or supply information.

In 1958 and 1959 committees were in operation investigating the possibilities of establishing a Nelson Provincial Historical Trust Board, as it was then called, to be financed by the local bodies in the area. To this end Mr L. W. Field made extensive enquiries in various parts of the country and delegations from the Society's committee attended meetings of the local bodies and put proposals before them.

In 1961 the Society's Collection was moved to Isel House and voluntary workers continued with the cataloguing of the vast amount of material which was being amassed.

In 1965 all the Society's material was handed over to the Trust Board, but the Society continued the activities of the Records Committee for the time being.

It is quite apparent that without the enthusiasm and dogged perseverance of Messrs L. W. Field, L. E. H. Baigent, J. A. Jenkins, and other members of the Society, the new museum would not yet be in existence.

It is a matter of regret that owing to the lack of working space local research workers have not had access to the Society's collection which had been passed over to the Museum Trust Board but we look forward to the time when the Archives Section is open and the Society's collection, the Dr Bett collection, and other collections of material, will be available.

One last point of interest is the fact that our membership now stands at 150 and this in itself is proof that the Society is playing a useful role in the community. Some people had felt that our Society would fade out when the Trust Board was formed, but this did not happen. I, personally, believe that there is a great deal which we could and should be doing.

We have every reason to believe that we can go forward in confidence. Membership is increasing and with the new museum in operation, it appears that this Society will now be able to take its rightful place and fulfil the purpose for which it was formed.