MECHANICS' INSTITUTES RESOURCE CENTRE (MIRC)
The Mechanics' Institutes Resource Centre (MIRC) is a database of information about mechanics' institutes, especially those of Victoria, Australia. The collection of data is an ongoing project and is based on information supplied by Pam Baragwanath over many years of research which culminated in the publication of her book If the walls could speak: a social history of the mechanics' institutes of Victoria 2000. Other significant contributors to the MIRC include Lorraine Huddle who created the first database on Microsoft Access, Peter Pereyra who has devoted many hundreds of hours to scanning documents for the database and Professor Wallace Kirsop who has been a generous benefactor. Many volunteers continue to contribute their time to develop the MIRC.
The MIRC consists of electronic documents and images and also paper based documents that will be scanned in the future. A significant initiative of the MIRC is the scanning of the records of mechanics' institutes in bushfire-prone areas. The MIRC received a grant of $5000 from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation in 2009 to carry on this important work. In 2011 the Victorian Government provided a grant to enable the MIV to complete the scanning project.
The MIRC is located at the Prahran Mechanics' Institute History Library at 140 High Street, Prahran.
The list of holdings of the MIRC is a work-in-progress and can be found here.
The MIV has two free exhibitions that can be borrowed for display. The exhibitions come with a large display banner for hanging outside the venue. Bookings can be made with the MIV Secretary.
"Mechanics' ... and Proud of it!" provides a glimpse of the variety of cultural, educational and social activities in Mechanics' Institutes. The exhibition consists of laminated posters (420cm x 590cm) on mount board, with the place name at the top. Each mount board is 840cm x 600cm. There is a total of 24 panels.
"Remember the Mechanics?" outlines the history of the Mechanics' Institutes movement from its origins in the UK, to the rapid expansion in colonial Victoria following the gold rushes. At its peak there were over 1,000 institutions in Victoria. There are 20 panels on mount board, each 840cm x 600cm.
The idea of putting a plaque on Mechanics' Institute Halls was advanced by Committee member Alan Tonkin in 1999. Committee member Paul Permezel brought it to reality in 2003 and since then 26 plaques have been installed, with more on order.
Click here for historical plaques brochure