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RAHS Day Lecture – Vandemonians: The Repressed History of Colonial Victoria

July 6 @ 13:00 - 14:00

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It was meant to be ‘Victoria the Free’, uncontaminated by the Convict Stain. Yet they came in their tens of thousands as soon as they were cut free or able to bolt. More than half of all those transported to Van Diemen’s Land as convicts would one day settle or spend time in Victoria. There they were demonised as Vandemonians. Some could never go straight; a few were the luckiest of gold diggers; a handful founded families with distinguished descendants. Most slipped into obscurity. Burdened by their pasts and their shame, their lives as free men and women, even within their own families, were forever shrouded in secrets and lies. Only now are we discovering their stories and Victoria’s place in the nation’s convict history.

As Janet McCalman examines this transported population of men, women and children from the cradle to the grave, we can see them not just as prisoners, but as children, young people, workers, mothers, fathers and colonists. From the author of Struggletown and Journeying, this rich study of the lives of unwilling colonisers is an original and confronting new history of our convict past – the repressed history of colonial Victoria.

About the speaker: Emeritus Redmond Barry Professor Janet McCalman AC commenced teaching at the University of Melbourne in 1998, in the cross-faculty Centre for the Study of Health snd Society. She has taught in both the Arts Faculty and the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, specialising since 2008 in the teaching of interdisciplinary breadth subjects.

Since that time she has also pioneered the building of historical life course datasets for demographic and health analysis. She is the author of three multi-award winning books: Struggletown (1984, 1998 and 2021), Journeying (1993), Sex and Suffering (1998). In 2020 she co-edited with Emma Dawson What Happens Next? Reconstructing Australia after COVID 19 and in 2021 Vandemonians: The repressed history of colonial Victoria, which was co-awarded the 2022 Ernest Scott Prize.


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July 6
13:00 - 14:00


Royal Australian Historical Society
(02) 9247 8001
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