From the Newsroom

The historical scrapbooks and archives Leone Roberts is currently sorting through feature numerous memorabilia from previous Grafton Shows, dating back several decades. Image: Emma Pritchard.

Showing the importance of preserving local history

Emma Pritchard

As she carefully turns each page, reads the sentences written beautifully in faded black ink and gazes down at memorabilia and photographs collected and taken almost a century ago, Leone Roberts is reminded how significant the history of the past is and the importance of preserving it for future generations.
Describing herself as someone who has always loved and admired history, and how it shapes people, Mrs Roberts dedicates one day each week to organising and filing the historical archives of the Grafton Show Society and helping keep the memories of the Grafton Showground alive.
Mrs Roberts, who is also vice president of the Grafton Show Society, has been busy compiling the incredible collection of historical papers, newspaper cuttings and scrapbooks since May and said she first became involved in the process while advising the show secretary which pieces and artefacts should be kept during a previous sorting and tidying session.  
“It all started from there,” she explained.
“There are so many folders and papers that need to be properly looked through, sorted and stored accordingly.
“Once I started looking, the more I found and now everything has been moved into the meeting room where there is more space to go through it all.”
As her eyes drift across to the piles of folders, newspaper articles and fraying scrapbooks protectively covered by acid free plastic bags, a smile lights up her face and her gaze returns to the folder she is currently flicking through on her desk.
“It’s wonderful what you learn from them,” she said as her fingers outline black and white photographs in front of her.
“They give you a picture of what things were like and what people were like in the past.
“They’re all relevant, they tell you stories and we’re lucky to have them.”
One of the most prized pieces in the collection is an archive from 1922 which survived a fire 72-years-ago when it was previously in storage.
The faint smell of smoke and blackened corners of the pages are a reminder of how easily some parts of history come to being lost forever. 
Clarence Valley residents and visitors to the showground next year will have a unique opportunity to view the historical collection as Mrs Roberts is planning to feature several photos and archives in a special exhibition at the 2021 Grafton Show, to be held on April 23-24.
Mrs Roberts said the display would be a wonderful addition to the festivities, especially following the unfortunate cancellation of the show this year due to Covid-19.
“It’s important for future generations to realise what has gone before,” she said.
“The importance of the Grafton Show over the years, how it has moved with the times, being able to reflect and value the past and how it has shaped and is shaping the future.”

Leone Roberts looks over an archive from the Grafton Show Society which is almost 100 years old and previously survived a fire which destroyed a lot of historical artefacts in 1948. Image: Emma Pritchard.