Abstracts – JRAHS Vol 98, Part 2 December 2012

Aboriginal voters in the Burragorang Valley, New South Wales, 1869-1953

Jim Smith

Electoral rolls have been a neglected resource in the study of Aboriginal community history. The movements of Aboriginal people, the Anglicisation of their names, their changing occupations and the formation of sometimes short lived Aboriginal communities can be tracked using electoral rolls. Demographic data can be compiled from the rolls and compared with that available from other sources. It may have been assumed by some historians that Aboriginal people were too illiterate to enrol, were not interested in voting, alienated from non-Aboriginal democratic processes or were prevented from enrolling by legislation or racist officials. However finding that New South Wales electoral rolls contain significant numbers of Aboriginal people challenges these assumptions.

In the Burragorang Valley, situated around the middle and lower Wollondilly River and lower Cox River and their tributaries, 61 Aboriginal people enrolled to vote in State and Federal elections between 1869 and 1953. They signed petitions for the establishment of schools and post offices, applied for grants, conditional purchases and leases of land. The desire of Aboriginal people to vote was part of a suite of aspirations for equality with the non-Aboriginal community.

Music and civil society in New South Wales, 1788-1809

Robert Jordan

Music pervaded all levels of colonial society from its very beginnings. The elite, such as Governor Hunter with his violin or the singers of the Anacreontic Society, were amateurs, normally performing in private and select gatherings. Some of the lower orders, such as James Strong and Joe Love (the first Australian-born violinist) attempted to live by music, wholly or in part. Their precarious and socially marginal lives are discussed. By 1802 musical instruments were being imported as trade goods. Fiddles and flutes seem the commonest instruments in the colony, though exotics such as the serenetti and Irish bagpipes are recorded. Portability was obviously a consideration, but by the end of the period piano-fortes were being freely imported. They are usually associated with officers’ wives and daughters.

Under the Colony’s eye: Cockatoo Island and the Fitzroy Dock, 1847-1857

Sue Castrique

Fitzroy Dock on Cockatoo Island was completed I n1857 having taken ten years and drawn sharp criticism. While some historians have attributed its prolonged construction to lazy convicts, this paper argues it was primarily a problem of management. The Superintendent Charles Ormsby developed into an island autocrat and in a series of disputes with the civil engineer Gother Mann withheld convicts, obstructed work and attempted to control the engineers. The difficulties, which engulfed Fitzroy Dock, stand as testimony to the pervasive tensions within government a sit attempted to manage convicts, officers and a complex industrial enterprise on an island so close to Sydney yet isolated from scrutiny.

James Ainslie: Stranger than fiction

Rowan Henderson

Perhaps the most colourful figure in Canberra’s history has always been that of James Ainslie. His name was given to one of the mountains that overlook the city long before such a city was dreamed of, and when the city arose a nearby suburb was also named for him. In the latter years of the nineteenth century stories about his exploits were circulated, published and extrapolated by local historians, making him larger than life and adding a touch of the romantic to the history of the Limestone Plains. This paper provides an overview of the previous knowledge of James Ainslie and his role in founding Robert Campbell’s property at Pialligo. It then details original research which has revealed the reason behind Ainslie’s departure from Australia, where he came from originally and what happened to him after he returned to Scotland in 1835, including his sad demise.

For King or Kaiser? Competing loyalties among Australian civilian internees in Ruhleben during WW1

Alexandra Ludewig

As British subjects, around 120 Australian civilians found themselves interned just outside Berlin in the Ruhleben Camp, the ‘Britenlager’, during World War One. Among them were Oxonians, artists, writers, and scientists; many cosmopolitan and multilingual. Yet in the lead-up to WWI, at a time when nationality became the biggest currency, the internees were forced to take sides and to re-assess their understanding of self and nation. This led to their self-identification as either pro-Germans or “Britishers” and the resulting segregation in different camp barracks. This paper will trace the competing loyalties of five of these men: Carden Hervey and Frederick Delmer, both teachers of English in privileged positions in the Reich; Victor Bennie and Henry Brose, two aspiring students, one studying, the other holidaying in Germany; and the German-born – but freshly naturalised Australian – transit passenger Ernest Issberner-Haldane. Confronted with questions of loyalty to King or Kaiser at a time of militant nationalism, their life stories and their shifting sense of belonging add new complexity to the Australian war experience.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email