The oral history collection of Australian Mutuals History (AMH) began in May 1983, evolving out the shared interest of a small, dedicated group of volunteers who were all founders or early participants in the credit union movement. With guidance from the National Library they began recording interviews in an attempt to preserve the movement’s early spirit and development. In 1985 they formed the Australian Credit Union Historical Cooperative (ACUHC) which expanded the project with the engagement of a professional oral historian, Richard Raxworthy. Raxworthy believed the value of oral history lay in the opportunity it provides for ‘ordinary people, especially working people, to add to the written historical record, and without oral history those personal views and stories would be lost.’ Over the following 20 years the collection grew to over 650 recorded interviews documenting the formation and development of individual credit unions, and credit union industry and representational bodies nationwide.

AMH's oral history collection provides a vibrant and vital account of the commitment and struggles, successes and failures, personalities and politics of the Australian credit union movement. It also documents the social and economic environment in which Australian credit unions were established, flourished and consolidated; continually adapting to their changing circumstances. The collection sits comfortably alongside the organisational records making up the bulk of the Archives’ holdings, and combined with additional collections of photographic and audio visual material, newspapers and ephemera, serves to provide a rich history of the Australian credit union movement and its development.

AMH completed a two year project to professionally digitise our oral history collection, which was originally recorded on analogue audio tape. By digitising the collection to allow for both long-term preservation and access we are assisting current day researchers in charting the development and foundation values of the credit union movement and facilitating research of the collection far into the future. The size and depth of AMH's oral history collection provides researchers with a valuable record not only of the individual voices of the credit union movement but of the attitudes, values and stories of an entire like-minded generation of twentieth-century Australians.

For access to individual interviews please contact AMH today. Access to the collection is provided by AMH subject to relevant privacy and copyright restrictions.

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