Vale Vera Deacon: celebrating regional history

Monday, 20 September 2021

Vera Deacon OAM (1926 – 2021) brought Newcastle’s history to life.

Vera Deacon left an indelible mark on her beloved city of Newcastle and most certainly the University of Newcastle. Vera tirelessly championed the safeguarding of our region's history and shared her stories and passions with many.

The late Vera Deacon OAM standing in front of a collection of books at the University's Special Collections office
Vera Deacon OAM in the University's Auchmuty Library, Special Collections office 2017

Vera’s deep connection with the University began many years ago when she took the stories from her childhood and turned them into a gift for future generations by establishing the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund.

Since its establishment in 2008, the fund has received over $300,000 in donations. These contributions have provided employment opportunities, mentoring and work experience opportunities. This has allowed library staff, volunteers and students to uncover, preserve and safeguard the region’s important historical archives.

The Vera Deacon Regional History fund, through the commitment and generosity of our philanthropic community, will continue to be a focus for the University. Together we can enable Vera’s remarkable legacy to live on and continue to make a difference in our region for years to come.

Vera Deacon’s generosity over many years has strengthened our links to the past and benefited the community she loved. We are forever grateful for the cultural riches and conservation opportunities she has given us all.”

Gionni Di Gravio OAM, University Archivist

A portal to the past

Hundreds of boxes containing thousands of individual items have been added to the University’s Special Collections thanks to contributions to the Fund.

Digitised items include:

  • A collection of Hunter regional maps and subdivision plans that would cover 2.5km if laid out in a straight line
  • Thousands of local photographic images attracting over 70 million hits on photo sharing platform, Flickr
  • 1,300 oral history recordings spanning hundreds of hours
  • More than 5,000 pages of historical records from children's homes
  • Two entire series of NBN TV programs from the 1970s and 1980s

The collection has also mapped 5,500 Aboriginal placenames across NSW and sponsored the creation of a virtual reality 3D Aboriginal Newcastle landscape amongst other projects.

The team in archives have wonderful aspirations to continue Vera’s legacy. If you would like to donate to the fund or learn more on how you can help the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund, please contact Bec Stone on 02 4921 8612 or donor-relations@newcastle.edu.au

Read more stories featured in the GiftDownload your copy of the Gift

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The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.