IDHS History Database for Small Museums
History Database was created for the Irwin Districts Historical Society and is Copyright © Graham Grundy (2017 – 2023). The purpose of the History Database is to record a local history. It is available free of charge with no expressed warranty to all not-for profit collecting organisations.
If you like the program, please make a donation to Irwin District Historical Society (BSB: 036-131 Account: 177994) use your organisation name in the reference.
History Database is a simple yet powerful tool that allows you to record information about events, media, (e.g., photographs), entities (e.g., a person, a company, organisation), objects (e.g., a museum collection), places and themes (eg Agriculture, Transport).
The system refers to each of these entries as a CATEGORY and allows you to link any record in one category to any record in another category, creating a connected data set.
The six CATEGORIES in the History Database are:
Each CATEGORY has its own Category Type.
A starter list of Category Types is included in History Database; if you require other category types you can create them as you need them.
Examples of Event Category types are Exploration, Election, Parade and Disaster
In general, it is a good idea to keep the Type of Event as general as possible.
For example, using ELECTION as the type of event then naming an event “Local Government Election, 1871” allows a link to that specific election while information on all elections would still be possible to find when a search is made under Type of Event: Election. Disaster can cover floods, fires. Earthquakes and so on. You can create any type of Event that suits your data set.
ENTITITY (PERSON) TYPES
The Types which are already loaded are Male, Female, Group, Corporate, Group and Government. You can add other genders as required.
Choosing the Person Type on the Entity form changes the Entity Form to suit the type of entry selected. For a gender you can choose a surname and given names, whereas a corporate or group entity would require a single name. Important: use the person’s birth surname as the Last Name entry, a married name is entered into Other Name. If only the married name is known, leave Last Name blank.
Examples of Media types are Photo Print-B&W, Photo Negative-Glass etc. The Media types are loaded into the system so you don’t need to add more.
The History Database uses two methods to group objects.
First, the object Primary and Secondary classification system as set out in the WA Museum scheme devised by Patricia Summerfield these Classifications are included in the program. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the object classification system using the original document which is available in the museum.
The Tertiary Classification is also designated as the Object Type, e. g. Book, Knife, Bed. This should be as simple as possible to allow objects to be grouped by type, avoid plural object type where possible.
When the Object Type ‘Book’ is selected, the ISBN number can also be recorded.
Examples of the way objects are Classified:
Kerosene Lamp used in the home: DOMESTIC EQUIPMENT/Lighting/Lamp
Women’s Gloves: COSTUME ACCESSORIES/Female/Gloves
Account Docket: DOCUMENTS/Commercial/ Account
Girl Guide badge: NUMISMATICS/Badges-Civil/ Badge
Examples of Place types are House, Grazing Lease, Vacant Land, Street etc.
A place may be recorded by any combination of its name, lot, location, reserve, street address, latitude/longitude and locality. In addition, you may specify your own designation and a value to identify a place. For example, you could create a designation of Crown Grant and the number is used as the value e.g., 1234, or a designation of Pastoral Lease and its number is the value e.g. A2345/76
Themes are used to group together all the other Categories that have a common reference. For example, a theme could be the ‘Fishing Industry’ could have media such as images of fishing boats, fishers from the Person Category, fishing gear as objects from the museum collection.
You can create as many Themes as you wish and use them to link to any other Category record.
An entry into any CATEGORY can be linked to any other, and a link made between any two Categories is displayed in both directions. When you create a Link, you use a Link Type which describes the Link . A selection of Link Types is already loaded, but you can modify them the same way as the Category Types.
For example, if a MEDIA entry such as a photograph contains the image of an ENTITY ( a person ) , a link can be made from the photograph as a MEDIA record to the person as an ENTITY record. The Link Type used is ‘ Image of’.
When the information for the ENTITY is viewed, the link back to the photograph is automatically available so you will know that you have an image of that person in your photograph collection.
In database terminology, the links between all six categories are ‘many-to-many’. For example, a photograph may contain images of many people, while each person may appear in many photographs; an object in a museum collection may be associated with many places (e.g., where made, where used) while each place may be associated with many objects.
The many-to-many relationship applies to any combination of CATEGORIES in the History Database.
You can add or remove links at any time without affecting your Category data.
This example may help you understand the concept of Categories and how the data linking can be made.
A property owner has donated a superseded Certificate of Title of her property which she sold in 1995. I record it in the OBJECT Category as part of my museum collection. I record her as the Donor in the ENTITY Category (Link Type: Doner) as the former owner with the year range she owned it. I can also link the title OBJECT record to the PLACE the title refers to by creating a PLACE record and linking the two records. (Link Type: Associated with).
The PLACE record of the title is can now linked to other ENTITY records (Link Types: resident at, employed at) as well as other Owners that appear on the Title. I also have photographs of the place and the owner so I can create a MEDIA Category record for each. I already have the PLACE Category record entered, so I can link the MEDIA Category record which is an image of the place and link the image of the owner to her ENTITY record. Links can be made in either direction, whatever is convenient.
You only need record each object, place, entity once. As you build your records you will find that linking becomes easier. For example, the PLACE record was recorded for the title but is subsequently available to link to the image as a MEDIA record . When the Entity record of the Owner is printed it will show the links to her image, the certificate of title, the place, each will have the associated link dates. The Object information will contain the link to the donor and the associated place. The Place record will show both owners,
Please contact IDHS for more information.
 Historical Collections Classification Scheme for Small Museums, Patricia Summerfield, 1988, Museums Australia, Perth ISBN:0 949069 04 3