Trevor Hart came to the University of Melbourne Archives (UMA) in January 2001 as its Business Archivist.
Trevor was well placed to hold this position due to his previous work with the ANZ Bank: both his familiarity with the business environment of banking and his experience as an archivist were important. His career in the banking industry dated from 1958 and his love of history led him to his eventual career in archiving: he became ANZ Group Archivist from 1983 and Manager of the ANZ Bank Museum and ANZ Art Collection in 1985.
At UMA, Trevor’s management of the business collections was a large undertaking in many senses. UMA commenced collecting business records in 1960, and by 2001 they occupied almost a half of the available shelving. Records from individual companies typically measured hundreds of metres whereas records acquired from the University or the labour movement were rarely this large. Trevor’s task was to arrange and describe these records and make them available to the public as well as to acquire more business records. Within a few weeks of arriving, he commenced negotiations with Colonial Mutual about their records and commenced a project to have listed the 27 metres of Defunct Company Records from the Registrar-General’s Department deposited at UMA by the Public Record Office of Victoria.
Making records available to the public by arranging and describing them was resource intensive and demanding for a lone Business Archivist, but Trevor was soon ably joined by others. Tony Miller, also previously of ANZ Archives, commenced at UMA and assisted Trevor with business collections amongst other duties. Project archivists worked with him on larger collections.
Trevor worked with Gil Ralph, former Western Mining Company Executive and Archives Advisory Board Chair, to establish a group of business volunteers. John Dew, John Reynolds, Allan Schurmann, and Don Fairweather assisted Trevor to make or improve inventories of large business collections. Trevor’s friend, Marten Syme, came on board to list the records of the Port Fairy Solicitor, J. W. Powling & Company.
Simultaneously, Trevor worked with Michael Piggott, Archivist Jane Ellen, and Professor David Merrett, to review the UMA business archives collecting policy. The resulting publication, ‘Making archival choices for business history‘, was published in the Australian Economic History Review 2004 44:2 185. Its purpose was to develop a strategy for future acquisitions and re-examine existing holdings and was based on a methodology that had been devised by the business archivists at the Minnesota Historical Society, US. The new collection policy became the script from which Trevor worked to acquire business records for the remaining years of his tenure in the position.
In 2007 Trevor ceased working for UMA and returned to part-time consulting as school archivist at Camberwell Grammar School, Ruyton Girl’s School and Eltham Secondary College. Yet everywhere we look at UMA we see evidence of his dedicated and energetic work in the inventories he created and the collections he acquired. His conviviality will be remembered by those who worked with him, especially his promotion of ‘archives talk’ and Sudoku at morning tea. Farewell Trevor.
Contributor: Sue Fairbanks