Vera Deacon made Freewoman of the City of Newcastle

Awards ceremony for Vera at City Hall with Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes. Picture by Peter Lorimer.

Vera Deacon, historian and the University of Newcastle’s great philanthropist, has been awarded the Freeman of the City of Newcastle, (that she renamed the Freewoman of the City of Newcastle) at a special ceremony held in her honour on the 25 September 2019.

Attended by hundreds of friends, acquaintances and admirers, Vera accepted the award with great humility, telling everyone “she cried” when she found out.

Vera began donating to the University of Newcastle’s Archives in 2001 and continued a steady stream of financial contributions that led to the establishment of the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund in her honour in 2008 to “support and encourage regional history through the acquisition, preservation and study of valuable regional historical resources.” See:

From then to now in 2019, her generosity has provided paid employment for over a dozen (now over twenty) people, who have accessioned hundreds of boxes of regional research archives containing many thousands of individual items; digitised over 2.5 kms of Hunter Regional maps and sub division plans; many thousands of local photographic images that have had over 54.6 (and counting..) million hits on flickr; digitised hundreds of hours across 1300 oral history recordings; digitised and indexed over 5000 pages of Children’s Homes Records for care leavers; digitised two entire series of NBN TV programs from 1970s-1980s; a history of the Ravensworth Homestead; mapped 5,500 Aboriginal Placenames across NSW; sponsored the creation of a Virtual Reality 3D Aboriginal Newcastle landscape; a 3D Colonial Newcastle of 1825; and a NewyHistory smartphone app showcasing Newcastle’s important historic places.

 We are forever thankful for this help, and for the cultural riches it has provided for the wider global community, and wholeheartedly support her formal recognition through The City of Newcastle’s Free(wo)man of the City Award.

Vera Deacon addressing a public gathering at the Sydney Domain, 1956.

Vera is loved and respected by many many people across our communities and beyond, as can be seen in the range of testimonials below.

“River of praise for Deacon: Local ‘treasure’ Vera Deacon named a Freeman of the City” By Scott Bevan. Newcastle Herald 26 September 2019 p.10 (Click for a larger image)



1. University of Newcastle’s Cultural Collections, GLAMx Lab and Hunter Living Histories
Testimonial for Vera Deacon

by Gionni Di Gravio, University Archivist & Chair HLH

2. Testimonial for Vera Deacon
By Dr Ann Hardy, GLAMx Living Histories Co-ordinator

3. Newcastle Writers Festival Testimonial for Vera Deacon
By Rosmarie Milsom

4. Hunter Broad Left Testimonial for Vera Deacon
By Rod Noble, Historian & Editor “Australian Socialist”

“Steel is in my flesh” by Vera Deacon

5. Kooragang Wetland Rehabilitation Project Testimonial for Vera Deacon
By Peggy Svoboda

6. Stockton Historical Society Testimonial for Vera Deacon
By Jason Wells, Treasurer & Publicity Officer.

Vera Deacon with Lord Mayor City of Newcastle, 25 September 2019. [Photo Credit: Leigh Birkett]
Vera Deacon with Gionni Di Gravio, University Archivist & Chair, Hunter Living Histories. 25 September 2019. [Photo Credit: Leigh Birkett]
Daria Ball (Vera’s daughter) 25 September 2019. [Photo Credit: Leigh Birkett]
Vera Deacon Yay the Girls! Free(wo)man of the City of Newcastle. 25 September 2019. [Photo Credit: Leigh Birkett]

3 thoughts on “Vera Deacon made Freewoman of the City of Newcastle

  1. It was an incredible day, for such a wonderful knowledgeable lady. Vera’s memory of her past is so wonderfully valuable, to local historians. Vera inspired me some years ago to write my memories of Mayfield.

  2. Thank you Vera for all you have achieved in assisting others (including myself) with the findings of our Moscheto Island heritage (Croese, Pilley, Ross Families), our local history and your contribution to the rehabilitation of Ash Island.

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