About this objectSocial History museums are common to most rural districts in Australia - and indeed the United Kingdom and United States - with most country towns sporting an ‘Historical Museum’ or ‘District Museum’. Millthorpe’s display is no exception to this, however the strong focus on pioneering families and institutions gives it specific relevance to the Millthorpe area. For a volunteer museum in a small country town, the collection - at over four thousand individual pieces (accessioned) - is large. Furthermore, the artefacts displayed in this collection reflect aspects of the wider social history of New South Wales and Australia. Notable in this regard are the military history and Indigenous archaeology collections.
The Social History collection contains numerous items reflecting the cultural history of the Millthorpe area. In addition to the general domestic / social material culture of Millthorpe, this collection includes a collection of Indigenous artefacts and a photographic / archival collection. Whilst much of this collection reflects local concerns and local families, a number of the items held by the Social History collection - the fraternal societies collection, the Lister and Tom collection, a First World War Abney level, and a c.1845 flutina - are regarded as holding national significance (Jolly 2006). The overall value of the collection is as an illustration of the material culture of the local district. The objects held in the collection are generally in good condition and are representative of the historical ephemera of everyday middle- and upper-class life. Displays are grouped according to concepts such as ‘An Edwardian Drawing Room’ and ‘A Victorian Bedroom’; according to type, such as silverware and glassware; or according to subject, such as military history and Indigenous history. The most successfully realised displays - such as the military service display in the Pioneers’ Gallery - incorporate interpretation panels setting the artefacts in their historical and thematic contexts.
The Indigenous Archaeology collection was collected by local families during the early decades of white settlement in the district. Until recently, these artefacts were poorly understood and displayed. A 2009 grant, however, has enabled the museum to display the artefacts in industry standard display cases and obtain advice from OLALC regarding the history of such items. The collection consists of edge-ground axe heads, spears, a spear thrower, boomerangs, grinding stones, and various ceremonial items. Whilst most of the artefacts in this collection are genuinely archaeological, a number are replicas and souvenir items. Due to the original methods employed by the collectors of these artefacts, these items are generally poorly provenanced.
Much of the collection is in good condition, although restoration works have, at times, detracted from the integrity of the original fabric of some items. This is not universal, however, as the Bevear carved frame, Abney level, flutina, and the Great Western Milling Company collection retain the essential elements of their original fabric. The provenance of the collection varies, with some provenance unknown, but the most well-provenanced items are associated with detailed histories and evidence of past use. Overall, the Social History collection holds items of significance to the local area as well as a number of artefacts recognised as holding National Heritage Significance. As a whole collection, the Social History collection is most significant to the local Millthorpe area as a highly important repository of the material culture of the district.