Share your Maitland Gaol story
As part of the ‘20 Years On’ commemoration of Maitland Gaol closing in 1998, a new oral history project is launching, aimed at people who may have a story to tell about the Gaol.
Over the centuries, the passing down of stories from one generation to the next has been key to the preservation of history and the idea of this oral history project is to capture a whole range of stories before they become lost, which could happen much sooner than you would think.
Throughout the 20 years the Gaol has been closed and while operating as a cultural tourism facility, the importance of working with and recording people’s histories has been recognised as a critical feature of the site, with this not being the first time that oral history has been commissioned for the Gaol. The aim in this instance however, is also to widen the scope from just a focus on operational stories to more personal stories about the Gaol.
Maitland Gaol Service Delivery Officer Zoe Whiting says, ‘Following on from the great success of the Gaol open day back at the end of January, we are now encouraging the community to come and share their experiences of the Gaol over time. Maybe you lived nearby, went to Maitland Grossmann High (or Maitland Girls before that) and remember the escape drills, or worked either at the Gaol, or for a company that had some linkage, or of course you may have experienced a stint on the wrong side of the gates.
‘Although the project is mainly targeting people who can provide first hand accounts of their interaction with the Gaol when it operated, you might be a child or grandchild of someone who shared a good story with you and we want to capture that as well.’
The success of the Maitland Gaol audio tours can, in part, be put down to the information gained from people who were actually on site or who have had an intimate understanding of the site and its operation and history.
'The development of these tours would be that much harder without those authentic real life stories and that is why we are seeking assistance from the public to keep new stories rolling in’, said Ms Whiting.
The project will be ongoing, and members of the public can find more information by going to maitlandgaol.com.au/oral-history-project, by calling the Gaol on 4936 6842 or by calling in to the Gaol and picking up a registration form.
Contributing to the project will help to preserve the history of Maitland Gaol and who knows, your story may help provide content and information for future tours and programs.