18,000 historical documents donated by community to National Library and National Archives

Photographs of the christening ceremony of Neptune Ruby by Mrs Lee Kuan Yew, 1972. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
A marriage certificate issued by the Singapore Lam Ann Association, 1960. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
The Song Ong Siang postcard collection, 1922. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Old photos of Madam Kwa Geok Choo at the christening ceremony of the Neptune Ruby, in 1972, captures the tradition of women christening ships. It also showcases a slice of maritime heritage.

Built by Jurong Shipyard, the Neptune Ruby was the first ocean-going vessel built in Singapore. Prior to that, Singapore had only constructed small coastal and patrol vessels.

The photos, contributed by Neptune Orient Lines, make up 18,000 items which were freshly donated by the community to the National Library and National Archives of Singapore over the past year.

Both the Library and the Archives hosted a donor appreciation dinner on Thursday (May 3) night. Minister for Communications and Information, Mr S Iswaran, who officiated the event - his first engagement in his new role - said that as Singapore commemorates its Bicentennial next year, he hopes "more Singaporeans and community organisations will come forward and share" their histories.

He said that both the Library and Archives have been charged with an important mission to collect and preserve Singapore's heritage and have gone about this with great care and perseverance. He added: "To me, I think this takes on specific significance as we look at next year... It is an opportunity to take stock of our identity as Singaporeans and the journey that we have travelled as a country, as a community, as a society.

"And these individual and collective memories I think make a very important and precious part of the heritage."

The bulk of the contributions this round came from the family of the late pioneer local artist Liu Kang. They donated 7,330 items including sketches, prints, letters and photos. These provide deeper insight into his influences, worldviews and networks of contacts.

Other contributions include documents and records kept by the late Mrs Pamela Hickley who was the personal assistant to the last two colonial Governors of Singapore, Sir William Goode and Sir Robert Black in the late 1950s. It was donated by her god-daughter Dorothy Chan. Mrs Hickley died last June (2017) at the age of 98.

Other materials now in the Library and Archives' collections include manuscripts, radioplay scripts, maps, as well as film reels of Singapore's places of interest from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Ms Chan, 57, a retiree, said: "I think the documents I donated form a good basis for research for anyone interested in that particular time of history as Singapore transitioned from colonial to independent government."

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