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FEDERATION OF AUSTRALIAN HISTORICAL SOCIETIES INC
No. 31 – June 2010
Hon Editor, Esther V. Davies
News from constituent members
The FAHS website has increasingly become a major focus for the Federation and its activities, and one of our principal means of communication with the Australia-wide community history movement. I recommend that all historical societies check the website regularly. http://www.history.org.au/
There are two particular new aspects to which I wish to draw your attention.
The first is that we are gradually building up information and guidance about disaster planning and amelioration – found under Support/Guidance and Training. In particular, I wish to draw your attention to a new organisation, Blue Shield Australia, of which the FAHS is an associate member. BSA organised major ‘May Day’ activities in May to train and prepare for cultural heritage disasters. There is a link to the BSA website on our page.
Second, we have mounted a revised and updated online version of the FAHS Heritage Handbook which was first published in 2002. Rewritten by the original author, Judy Gale Rechner, it offers a guide to the current heritage regimes across Australia and how to access heritage information and advice. On the web site, its new title is “Heritage identification and protection”, and further details can be found in an article below.
The National History Curriculum and local historical societies and museums
For many teachers and those associated with local historical societies and museums, there is a sense of staring at each other across a wide gulf. Teachers often feel unsure as to how to incorporate local history into a meaningful curriculum and, on the other side of the gulf, local historians are unsure as to the relevance of their knowledge and holdings in a national curriculum. This is very unfortunate as local history is not a separate experience on a parallel universe, but really the Australian experience “writ small”. The names on the local war memorial may be local names but they were also Australians and their story is part of Australian history. Family histories may be personal and local but they are also part of the national story. The incorporation of local and personal stories brings the study of history alive for students of all ages. Monuments and buildings as well as artefacts, photographs and documents held in local collections are all primary sources for student research and understanding of Australia’s past.
In the Draft Kindergarten to Year 10 Australian National History Curriculum, students in the early years of primary school, (Grades 2 and 3) will study the concepts of heritage, and community, including the significance of local place names and their links to the past, as well as the importance of local communities celebrating and preserving their heritage. Here, local societies could provide valuable resources including speakers, walking tours, museum displays or publications. Teachers could also be encouraged to visit and to become familiar with local history.
Year 2 students visiting a house museum (Calthorpe's House, ACT)
In Year 4, students will study First Australians and the diversity of cultures, beliefs, languages and social organisation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people in the past. While this may vary from place to place, many local museums and historical societies will have some artefacts, photographs or accounts of indigenous inhabitants of the area and/or of early contacts.
In Year 5, the course of study is Colonial Society. Historical societies, including genealogical societies and museums, in relevant areas, will have materials and/or knowledge of convict buildings or other sites. They will also have materials relating to the colonial past, including cemetery records and transcripts. Some students who now live elsewhere may well find that they have family links to early colonial society and should be encouraged to record this history.
The proposed Year 6 Curriculum and its focus on “New Australians” and the stories of groups of people who journeyed to Australia during the twentieth century should encourage both students and local societies to collect materials relating to migrants and their stories. A seminar on the stories of local migrants could also be of value to students and to the local community. In one case, I recently saw a superb piece of research done by primary school students on the Afghan camel drivers in the Northern Territory. Local collections may include relevant photographs.
The Year 7 Depth Study 1 deals with the nature of history and the study of the sources, methods and the process of historical research, as well as the representation and conservation of the past. This is a perfect opportunity for a class visit to the local society to look at the range of sources available for study of local area and ways in which the past can be represented. Alternatively, local historians could speak to classes on the sources and methods they use in their research. Visits to local memorials and buildings could highlight the importance of conserving the remains of the past in order to understand our history.
The Year 9 curriculum, Australian and the Modern World, begins with a chronological overview of the modern world and Australia from 1750 to 1901. This timeline should include local and personal events, including dates from monuments, memorials and buildings. Local historical societies and museums could provide assistance here. The curriculum also includes a number of “depth studies” e.g. The making of an Australian Nation, deals with the extension of settlement into Australia including pastoralism, squatters and selectors, the impact of gold rushes and the Overland Telegraph. Here, students should be initially looking at the origins of European settlement in their own area and where this area fits into the overall pattern of settlement. Students will also study the living and working conditions of rural and urban Australians in the mid to late 19th century. Here, visits to house museums, whether they be “grand houses” or simple cottages, will be particularly relevant. Old newspaper files may also yield insight into Australian life at this time. Another depth study, this time a school developed study, also provides the opportunity for a detailed local research project.
The proposed Year 10 course commences with a chronological overview of the modern world and Australia from 1901 to present. This chronology should include local and personal events, including dates from monuments and buildings. Again local historical societies and museums could provide assistance. For the section of the course dealing with the Great War and its aftermath, local monuments and historical resources as well as online sources (esp Australian War Memorial and Australian War Graves Commission sites) will provide material on local soldiers and the impact of the war on local community. Old newspaper files could be particularly helpful. The same sources could be useful for looking at the effects of the Great Depression and World War 2.
While all of this seems simple, no one, including the author, underestimates the difficulties inherent in this approach. On the one hand, teachers, frequently overwhelmed by administrative demands and an overly full curriculum, can find it difficult to find the time and energy to explore local history, especially as many may not be familiar with the history of the area. On the other hand, in a time of declining volunteer numbers and a constant struggle for money, local historical societies and museums have problems in providing access to their collections. It can seem all too difficult. However, to quote an ancient Chinese philosopher, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. It is important that both teachers and local historians take that first step and begin the journey. First steps can be as simple as a local society sending out information, including, where applicable, website or webpage details, to all teachers in local schools or even putting on an afternoon or evening for teachers to come and hear about local history and view the society’s collection. From experience, a cup of tea or coffee at the end of a long teaching day can work wonders. Teachers, on the other hand, could begin by researching their local society either by visiting the society in person, or by logging onto the Internet. An excellent place to begin is the website of the Federation of Australian Historical Societies www.history.org.au, which provides links to many of the over one thousand local historical societies in Australia. If we are to have a meaningful and relevant history curriculum and engaged and enthusiastic teachers and students, it is vital that everyone takes that first step and begins this important journey as soon as possible. For its part, the Federation of Australian Historical has plans, conditional on funding, to publish a guide for historical societies wishing to work with schools. For details of the proposed new national curriculum readers should consult the website for the Australian Curriculum Assessment Reporting Authority www.acara.edu.au. (Please note that it is necessary to register as a user in order to see the full curriculum documents.)
Esther V. Davies
Former President Canberra and District Historical Society
Former President ACT History Teachers Association and former coordinator of ACT section of National History Challenge
This guide to heritage identification and protection is intended to provide a practical guide for local historical societies that wish to identify and protect local heritage places, objects and records. It was originally produced as the FAHS Heritage Handbook in 2002 and published in hard-copy form. The revision is available from the web only: www.history.org.au/Heritage identification and protection.html. Its structure is as follows:
The role of historical societies
Problems with terminology
Agencies: non statutory
National grants and funding sources
Australian Capital Territory
New South Wales
Ron Winch was the President of the FAHS from 1986 until 1991, having taken over from the founding President, Justice Rae Else-Mitchell, who had held the office since the inception of the FAHS in 1977. Subsequently, Ron was the Honorary Treasurer of the FAHS from 1992 until 1996, and Research Officer from 1996 until 1998.
Ron was born and educated in Adelaide. On leaving school, he joined PMG in 1935 as a telegraph messenger. During World War 2 he served as a signalman in Darwin and in New Guinea. After the war he worked for the Department of Customs and Excise, while studying at night at Adelaide University. He was transferred to Canberra in 1956, and, for a number of years lived with his family in the rural area of Hall, where he and his wife Mary were very active in the local Wattle Park Methodist Church and in the Hall Agricultural Show, the forerunner of the Royal Canberra Agricultural Society. The family later moved to the Canberra suburb of Campbell.
In 1979, Ron retired from the Public Service, where he had held the position of Investment Manager of the Commonwealth Superannuation Board, and embarked on a new career, as the owner of Winchbooks, specialising in second hand and antiquarian books. He sold the business after ten years, but continued to value and collect books. He also wrote two books on the history of Methodist Church in Reid, Red Bricks of Reid and The Changing Years as well as a history of the Wattle Park Church. He is pictured in the above photograph at the centenary of the Wattle Park Church in 1982.
Ron and his wife joined the Canberra and District Historical Society in 1971, and Ron served as a Councillor, and as President of the Society for three terms, 1975-1977, 1983-85, and in 1990. He was a founding member of the St John Schoolhouse Museum Board, a councillor with the ACT National Trust, and founder of the Canberra Antiquarian Book Fair.
Ron is survived by his wife Mary and their two children.
The May 2010 issue of the Canberra Historical Journal includes the 2010 Canberra Day Oration delivered by Bishop Pat Power on 'Canberra and its Battlers' and the Vice Regal memories of Marlena Jeffery, wife of the previous Governor General. Lenore Coltheart continues her series on the story of the Albert Hall, covering the decades of the 1960s, 70s and 80s. This edition of the Journal also includes Michael Dwyer's article on Charlotte Massey and the Gundaroo Bridge and Patricia Clarke reflects on the efforts of Eilean Giblin to help three of the Dunera 'enemy aliens' shipped to Australia during World War 2. Nick Swain examines the development of Barton, one of Canberra's oldest garden suburbs developed in the 1920s and there is a review of a book recently published to mark the 50th anniversary of the Academy of Science Shine Dome.
News and information on upcoming events are available on the CDHS website.
In the June edition of the CDHS Newsletter, we celebrate the 2010 World Cup which coincides with the centenary of the first soccer games in the Canberra district in 1910. We remember the late Marie Sexton and Jo Grimsley. There is also a look at the papers of Patience Wardle which are part of the CDHS collection. Nick Swain also looks at the extraordinary case of Dr. Robin Tillyard and his interest in psychic research.
CDHS was recently honoured to receive a visit from Nick and Pamela Drew of RWAHS who not only had a look around our premises but made a very generous donation of books for sale.
Esther V. Davies, CDHS
Significant events in the Society’s calendar have included the following:
14 February, HSNT’s Quiz afternoon at Shennegan’s Hotel
17 February, HSNT lecture Grahame Hockey The Northern Territory Pastoral Industry
25 February, Jill Joliffe spoke on Cover-up, the inside story of the Balibo Five
24 March, Annual General Meeting (Patron’s Dinner) at the Rooftop Restaurant
10- 19 April, Alice Springs: The 150th Anniversary of John McDougall Stuart’s first expedition through Central Australia
12 May Wednesday – National Nurses Day – at the Nurses Museum, CDU. Minister Kon Vatskalis opened the display
26 May Wednesday, Dr Ted Ling spoke on the history of the Territory pastoral industry. In particular, the Payne-Fletcher Board of Inquiry 1937
Much of HSNT’s recent focus has been on the Society’s vigorous campaign in fighting the proposed closure of the National Archives of Australian Darwin office. While we appear to have succeeded in our campaign, there are still issues to be dealt with.
Congratulations to our newly elected president Matthew Stephen and a vote of gratitude to our retiring president Brian Reid.
There were a number of issues of high importance for the historical community in South Australia during this period. The first was undoubtedly the mooted closure of the National Archives of Australia (NAA) office. A successful campaign by the historical and archive communities in concert thankfully reversed that decision, but there is, as yet, no agreed alternative solution. Negotiations continue between NAA and State Records in an attempt to establish a joint facility into the future.
Other issues of significance include attempts to attract funding from government for a program to mark the State’s 175th anniversary in 2011. Only very minor funding has been provided to date and the delayed state budget this year, in the wake of the state election, is a further complication.
On the brighter side – SA History Week this year looks set to be a great success. The program will be mailed this week and a new website (www.historyweek.sa.gov.au) went live on 23 April. A record number of events is included in the program. A symposium on Adelaide’s urban history – Expanding Horizons: History, the City and the Web was held on 17-18 May. Details of the program can be found at www.unisa.edu.au/aad.
Margaret Anderson, History SA
A group of Royal Australian Historical Society (RAHS) Councillors recently reviewed the Society’s programs of events between 2006 and 2008, producing findings likely to be of interest to other societies.
The subjects that attracted large audiences included those on topical events and anniversaries such as of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, the history of Sydney, archaeology (both lectures and walks), house history/building features/restoration, and the two world wars. Also popular were well-known speakers like Paul Brunton.
The day lecture group mainly comprised RAHS members. A core number of about 15 attended every event, with numbers increasing between 2006 and 2008. Topics associated with heritage and history brought in additional audiences, frequently doubling the numbers.
Events organised jointly with the Australian Society for the History of Engineering and Technology (ASHET) attracted as many RAHS members as non-members. Railway engineering topics were particularly popular as were those with a nostalgic focus, for example on flying boats.
Workshops did not generally have large attendances but they paid well. Researching land records was a subject that brought in the numbers, especially from local historians.
It was also noted that the WEA raised large sums of money with some historical topics.
David Carment, RAHS
RHSQ has contributed to Queensland's 2009 Sesquicentenary celebrations, particularly with its lecture series. The four 2009 Queensland History Journals have been issued as larger format Sesquicentenary Journals, and Exhibitions have followed the theme. Emeritus Professor Kay Saunders delivered the Clem Lack Memorial Oration.
Dr Jennifer Harrison and Dr John Steele were joint John Douglas Kerr Medallists. Retiring Manager Allan Bell was awarded an Honorary McGregor Medal. Membership is growing.
At the Society's AGM on 20 August 2009 Carolyn Nolan was elected President to replace Dr Denver Beanland who is now involved with the new Futures Committee. A workshop in February 2010 focussed on future needs and aspirations. The Constitution and Rules are under review to make sure they remain relevant. Former State Auditor General Barrie Rollason is Treasurer.
Further grant funding is being sought, with one Councillor designated Grants Officer; a substantial grant of $35,000 plus GST has been received from Jupiters Casino Gaming Fund, for restoration of the photographic panoramas. The Bulletin is now online and the Journals will be digitised in conjunction with the University of Queensland.
RHSQ was pleased to host the AGM of the FAHS in Brisbane on 25 October 2009, and the General Meeting that followed.
Carolyn Nolan, RHSQ
The Society presented an exhibition, mainly of copies of photographs from its collection, at the Western Australian 2009 Royal Agricultural Show. Members volunteered over 700 hours to prepare for and present the exhibition which drew many interested visitors and resulted in sales and donations of $3,000. The exhibition is an important initiative for promoting the Society, particularly to country visitors. There are plans to repeat the exhibition at this year’s Show.
In December 2009, the RWAHS Auxiliary, which runs the Society’s very successful History in the City program of monthly popular public talks, presented the President with a cheque of $3,000 from the money raised during the year. These funds which will be used to assist in the care of the Museum’s costume collection.
An updated Disaster Preparedness Plan was adopted by Council late in 2009. This Plan has been developed within the limits of the Society’s resources taking into account best practice principles for collecting organisations.
Helen Henderson, RWAHS
The year of celebrations to mark the centenary of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria drew to its end on 7 April, with the reception at Government House hosted by the Governor and Mrs Jan de Kretser. A notable guest was Dame Elizabeth Murdoch who was sharing her own 100th year with the RHSV. A brilliant address was given by our president Andrew Lemon, in which he reminded us of the Society’s achievements and thanked all those who contributed towards the many successes.
At the end of April the annual Volunteers’ Open Day was held at the RHSV rooms to welcome new volunteers and acknowledge the generous work of current members who do so much to enrich the work of the Society. The Robert Law exhibition of Edwardian era prints from the Society’s glass slide collection, entitled “Minted Melbourne”, had such a strong public response that the closing date was extended to 23 April.
The program of other events so far this year was as follows :
February 9, Lecture: Simon Smith - Victoria's first vexatious litigant
March 9, Lecture: Susan Priestley - George Higinbotham and the Family
March 13, HVSG Seminar Day
March 20, Workshop - Developing a Walking Tour
April 7, Government House Early Evening Reception
April 13, AGL Shaw / La Trobe Society Lecture: Bev Roberts - Misses Drysdale & Newcombe
April 22, Lunch time Lecture: Jenny Davies - Centenary of Flinders St. Railway Station
May 11, 100th AGM: Weston Bate - How I Became a Local Historian
May 20, Lunchtime lecture: Meredith Fletcher - Jean Galbraith (1906-99), gardener extraordinaire
THRA has had a busy program of speakers this year. The topics held so far have been as follows:
THRA Chudleigh Valley Excursion was held from 5 to 7 March 2010 and was a weekend highlighting the diverse range of historic features and old skills of the valley. Landmarks visited included Native Hut Corner, The Den, the Nine Foot Ditch, the Alum Cliffs, Wet Cave Reserve and the fortified barn complex at Old Wesleydale. FAHS members are encouraged to visit THRA’s attractive website, which was established in 2009.
In order to be an effective voice for historical societies throughout Australia, it is essential that the Federation knows what concerns/practical problems societies consider should be addressed at the federal/state/local levels. If your society wishes to enlist the support of the Federation on any issue please go to our website at www.history.org.au and complete a form for each concern/practical problem for which you are seeking advocacy support. The form can be electronically completed and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. To find the form and further information click on ‘Support’ button on the horizontal bar on the home page and on the drop-down menu click on ‘Advocacy support’.”
Are you passing this FAHS Newsletter (and its sister publication, the FAHS E-Bulletin) on to those within your historical society who may be interested in them? The FAHS tries to send the e-mails to the current President or Secretary, but it is not always easy to keep up with changes in office-bearers which may have taken place. If you are not the most appropriate person for us to be sending them to, we would be grateful if you would let us know of an alternative, so that the publications can reach as many of your members as possible.