Abstracts – JRAHS Volume 103 Part 1 June 2017

The Pioneer Legend and its Legacy: In Memory of John Hirst

Richard Waterhouse

The purpose in this essay is first to elaborate on John Hirst’s interpretation of the origins and influence of the pioneer legend on nineteenth and early twentieth century Australian society. In the process I have paid particular attention to when the pioneer legend emerged, traced its similarity to the American frontier narrative, explored how it interacted and differed from the bush legend and assessed the respective roles of both foundation stories in shaping the Anzac story extending from Gallipoli to the post World War 2 years. My second purpose is to trace the influence of the pioneer legend on twentieth century Australian culture and to explain how this seminal story of the creation of Australian nationhood and identity declined in authority and status from the 1940s onwards, even as its influence lingered at the local level.

Accommodating Miners and their Families in NSW: Twenty Acres for the Price of Two Drinks

Terry Kass

Responses to widespread unemployment during the 1890s depression included the establishment of co-operative village settlements. All eventually failed. An alternative in NSW allowed the poor working man a lease of up to 20 acres of crown land in Gold or Mineral Fields, for a very modest rent. Mining families existed on these leases, building their own home and producing some of their own food. ‘Residential Leases’, as they were officially termed provided a refuge well into the twentieth century where unemployment or under-employment was common.

Cold-Blooded Judicial Murder

Pauline Curby

This paper examines controversy surrounding the death penalty within the NSW Labor Party between1910 and 1925, and explores the political mechanisms that led a Labor government in Queensland, but not in NSW, to abolish capital punishment in the 1920s. It also details the arguments for and against capital punishment advanced in 1925 in the most extensive debate ever held on this subject in the NSW parliament. This debate sheds light on contemporary Australian attitudes to the death penalty and reveals a political class in NSW attuned to international theories on the relationship of the environment and psychology to crime.

‘Great Progress And Evolution’: The 1911 Australasian Medical Congress and Fin De Siècle Nation Building in Australia

Mark Hearn

The most powerful expression of the fin de siècle imagination in Australia c1890-1914 proved not to be the dissident ideals that challenged society’s values, such as the mysteries of theosophy and symbolism; it was the assimilation of fin de siècle ideas and anxieties that infiltrated Australia’s nation building and strategies of governance. By 1911 the Australian medical profession believed it played a vital role in developing nation building. The rigour the medical profession brought to the treatment of disease and public health policy could also be brought to bear on the discipline of the workforce, in upholding gender roles to increase the birth rate; easing anxiety over race suicide through eugenics strategies to weed out the ‘unfit’; and in preparing both society and the military for the challenge of war. The article focuses on the key Congress themes that reflected these fin de siècle anxieties – as outlined in the Congress president’s opening address, and in the Congress deliberations dealing with fears of degeneracy and eugenics, managing the population to productive outcomes, and defence preparedness.

Phillip Parker King’s Stowaway

Matthew Fishburn

Phillip Parker King made four major survey voyages of Australia between 1817 and 1822, but very little has been written about his crews, despite them being mustered in Sydney from local sailors and convicts. As part of my work on King I became fascinated by the mystery of the young girl who stowed away on the Bathurst in 1821. Although briefly described in King’s book (1827) and mentioned in passing in some of the logs, I believe that I have identified her for the first time, in the process being able to provide a glimpse of her eventful life.


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