Brief History of the Archives
by Noelle Rattray
In 1990 I became President of the South Australian Branch of the FAA and a member of the National Executive (the titles as applied then). My partner and I owned Quantum bookshop in North Adelaide, which had a sizeable room behind it. As the shop had a small second-hand section, we were often offered private collections to buy, which often included astrology books. While these were quickly snapped up, (at that time Bernadette Brady ran a very large and successful astrology school in Adelaide) I thought that creating a National Astrology Archives would be a much more useful career for them.
I put the idea to the National Council in Adelaide that year. They requested that I investigate and produce an outline to the next meeting. In 1991, the Archives was born. I had had some library experience, and adopted the Browns System of library cataloguing, built shelving for the room with the help of Geoff Morgan, Michelle Lewis’s partner, and started collecting. It was amazing how quickly the collection grew! A couple of sizeable private collections, donations from overseas authors and other individuals, the journal collection from then editor Darryln Gunzburg, and purchase of remainders from publishers all helped.
The value of the Archives soon became evident. Students would book the room to study in, request for photocopying of journal articles was common, and a small group of Branch members embarked on the task of collating an index by subject of journal articles. It was exciting and heady days.
Then, on March 17th, 1993, disaster struck! I remember standing in the burnt-out shell of the Archives room with Bernadette and knocking down the still smouldering remains of a stack of ephemerides and a charred slip of paper fell out that had a donee’s name on it. She handed it to me and said, “You should keep that!”. It took four months to re-open the shop. It took much longer to gather the enthusiasm to rebuild the Archives, but a donation of a large collection from the estate of the late Bill Snape, and cataloguing assistance from Michelle Lewis, rekindled the passion, and so today we once again have a fine collection of astrology books and journals in the National Archives.
Historian and Archivist