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RAHS Upcoming Events

The Royal Australian Historical Society has an established tradition of delivering a diverse Calendar of Events throughout the year, helping make history accessible to all. This program includes lectures, skills-based workshops, regional seminars, tours and book launches.

The annual RAHS Conference is a highlight of the Society’s activities. It provides an opportunity for the RAHS and its Affiliated Societies to network at a conference dedicated to promoting local and community history, showcasing the research of individuals and societies.

May 2024

RAHS Day Lecture – What Is So Good About Crime, Historians' Edition

Louisa Collins prison record. Her prison record includes a photo of Louisa and notes she was executed on 8 January 1889.

Louisa Collins, who in 1889 became the last woman to be executed in NSW, provided Nancy Cushing’s entrée into the world of crime history. Her prison record demonstrates the richness of primary evidence associated with offenders.

Event Date & Time: Wednesday, 1 May 2024 @ 1.00 pm – 2.00 pm

Event Location: Online via Zoom

Cost: Free

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Event Description:

While crime statistics trend downward, the appetite for stories about crime just keeps growing. This abiding interest makes historical crime a tempting area for historians following their own interests or with a view to writing histories that people want to read. In 2018, I became part of this trend when I developed a course on the history of crime in Australia. In this talk, I will discuss why crime can be so fruitful for historians, illustrating my points with examples from Australia’s criminal past.

About the speaker:

Nancy Cushing is Associate Professor in History at the University of Newcastle on unceded Awabakal land. Her teaching includes the history of crime while her research area is Australian environmental history. Her current book project is A New History of Australia in 15 Animals (Bloomsbury). Nancy is the 2024–2025 Coral Thomas Fellow at the State Library of New South Wales, Director of the Centre for the Study of Violence and a member of the executive of the Australian Historical Association.

RAHS-ARHS/WEA Workshop – 'Who Travels by Train sees NSW Best': The Role of Railways in the Progress of NSW

A postcard of Central Railway Station in Sydney on a perfect blue sky day.

Central Railway Station (RAHS Postcard Collection).

This event is in partnership with the Australian Railway Historical Society and WEA Sydney.

Event Date & Time: Thursday, 16 May 2024 @ 11.00 am – 1.00 pm

Event Location: Online via Zoom

Cost: RAHS members $35 | Non-members $39

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Event Description:

Railways are often overlooked for the significant role they played, and continue to play, in the development of NSW and Australia. Most of us have some association or connection to railways, even if it is just to get us to and from work. But did you know that since 1855, railways have shaped the economic, social, technological, industrial and political development of our society? This presentation will explore this story and its significance to citizens and their families.

About the speaker:

James Dalton is the Chair and General Manager of the Australian Railway Historical Society. The Society is over 90 years old and is dedicated to preserving and sharing the story of railways in Australia. James has a lifelong interest in railways and history and, with degrees in engineering and business, has worked in the railways, medical, and cultural sectors.

RAHS/National Archaeology Week – Bricks, Bottles and Bones: Historical Archaeology at the Parramatta Metro Site

A photograph of archaeologists excavating the Parramatta Metro Site.

Excavations at the Parramatta Metro Site (Image supplied by Abi Cryerhall).

This event is in partnership with National Archaeology Week.

Event Date & Time: Wednesday, 22 May 2024 @ 6.00 pm – 7.30 pm

Event Location: History House, 133 Macquarie St, Sydney NSW 2000

Cost: RAHS members $12 | Non-members $15

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Event Description:

Archaeological excavations at the new Parramatta metro station site commenced in 2022 and is being undertaken in stages through to the end of 2025. Comprising almost an entire city block in the heart of the CBD, the excavations so far have revealed evidence of environmental change, significant Aboriginal archaeology including contact-period artefacts, two convict huts, multiple phases of 19th-century domestic occupation, and local manufacturers and businesses. Post-excavation analysis is in its early stages, this talk explores some of the preliminary findings and artefacts from the site.

About the speaker:

Abi Cryerhall is a Principal at GML Heritage and is the lead archaeologist for the project.

June 2024

RAHS Day Lecture – Awabakal and Nikkin: Reconnecting histories of First Peoples, coal and colonists

A map of Lake Macquarie, which includes handwritten notations. The words 'Awaba or Lake Macquarie' are visible.

Created by W. Procter, c1841. Printed by W. Baker Lithographer, King Street Sydney. Notated, possibly by Reverend W. B. Clarke. Source: Hunter Living Histories.

Event Date & Time: Wednesday, 5 June 2024 @ 1.00 pm – 2.00 pm

Event Location: Online via Zoom

Cost: Free

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Event Description:

In the late 1790s colonists encountered exposed coal measures along the 35-kilometre stretch of coastal cliffs from Newcastle’s Nobby’s Head to Catherine Hill Bay near Lake Macquarie. Geologist Edgeworth David later declared this extensive carbon-rich strata to be ‘probably the finest of its kind in the whole world.’ As this paper discusses, the prevalence of visible coal seams means it is no surprise that Awabakal people of the region named, used and traded bituminous, heat-softened, tar-like nikkin (coal).

About the speaker:

Julie McIntyre is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Newcastle. She researches the relationship between commodity production, distribution and consumption centred on grape wine, people, plants and place. Research for her new book for Princeton University Press on Australia in global context has led to her interest in the Indigenous histories of coal and other minerals.

RAHS History House Seminar – How to Conduct Guided Historical Tours

A photograph of RAHS members gathered at Charlotte Place in The Rocks.

Charlotte Place, The Rocks – a 1903 RAHS Excursion (RAHS Photograph Collection).

Event Date & Time: Wednesday, 12 June 2024 @ 10.00 am – 2.00 pm

Event Location: History House, 133 Macquarie St, Sydney NSW 2000

Cost: $25 (includes morning tea and lunch)

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Event Description:

Join Judith Dunn for a practical seminar on conducting guided historical tours. This workshop will cover Commentary, Timing, Dealing with Difficult Customers, Leading Tour Groups, and Tour Group Management. Members and volunteers of historical societies that operate a museum/house museum or conduct walking or bus tours are encouraged to participate. The workshop is also suitable for anyone who has never guided before, and as a refresher for those that have.

About the speaker:

Judith Dunn OAM has been a Professional Guide for 26 years. She is also a member of the Institute of Australian Tour Guides. Judith taught Tourism at TAFE for nine years and has also trained guides at the Whitlam Institute (University of Western Sydney), National Trust, Australiana Village and Bella Vista Farm.

RAHS Special Lecture – Joseph Banks and the Endeavour: The Unauthorised Biography

A banner with the words 'First Voyage', which features a portrait of Captain James Cook, the Endeavour ship, and a Maori man with Tā moko tattoos on his face.Event Date & Time: Wednesday, 19 June 2024 @ 1.00 pm – 2.00 pm

Event Location: History House, 133 Macquarie St, Sydney NSW 2000

Cost: Free

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Event Description:

Joseph Banks together with Daniel Solander collected hundreds of botanical specimens and were the first trained naturalists to describe the unique flora and fauna of Continent Australia that had evolved during its 30 million years of isolation. They returned to England with over 3,000 specimens which went into Joseph Banks’s private collection. All the work was done to draw and describe the specimens which were to be published in a massive volume. But this never happened. Why?

About the speaker:

Ian Burnet grew up in South Gippsland in Victoria and graduated with a combined major in Geology and Geophysics from the University of Melbourne. His books show his fascination with the diverse history of the Indonesian archipelago to the north of Australia. Ian is the author of six books that relate to maritime history, the spice trade and the vast archipelago to the north of Australia. These include Spice Islands, East Indies, Archipelago, Where Australia Collides with Asia, The Tasman Map and Joseph Conrad’s Eastern Voyages. Details can be found on his website – www.ianburnetbooks.com.

July 2024

RAHS Day Lecture – The Power to Read Others: Popular Phrenology in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand

A handbill for a phrenology lecture by Professor Joseph Fraser. It depicts a man's scald with various diagrams.

Handbill for lecture in Hagley, Tasmania, by Professor Joseph Fraser, 1884. Private collection.

Event Date & Time: Wednesday, 3 July 2024 @ 1.00 pm – 2.00 pm

Event Location: Online via Zoom

Cost: Free

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Event Description:

The contentious science of phrenology once promised insight into character and intellect through external ‘reading’ of the head. In the transforming settler-colonial landscapes of nineteenth-century Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, and well into the twentieth century, popular phrenologists performed their science of touch and cranial jargon everywhere from mechanics’ institutions to public houses. Alexandra Roginski invites us into a history of this everyday practice and to reflecting on the enduring appeal of a shortcut to knowing who we can trust.

About the speaker:

Dr Alexandra Roginski (ANU, 2019) is a historian, writer and heritage worker based in Melbourne on Wurundjeri Country. Her work focuses on practices and ideas of the body, past and present. She is the author, most recently, of Science and Power in the Nineteenth-Century Tasman World: Popular Phrenology in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand (Cambridge University Press, 2023).

RAHS Special Lecture – Broughton House, Parramatta: A Colonial Misnomer

A photograph of Broughton House.

Laurentz Campbell (Verge) house / Broughton House, 1922 (supplied).

Event Date & Time: Wednesday, 10 July 2024 @ 1.00 pm – 2.00 pm

Event Location: History House, 133 Macquarie St, Sydney NSW 2000

Cost: Free

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Event Description:

Broughton House, Parramatta – so named in 1910 by Percy Waddy of the King’s School – was built in 1838–9 for Colonial Treasurer Laurentz Campbell and his family. The likely architect was John Verge. This talk presents a history of the house, correcting a number of misconceptions about ownership, along with a review of artworks featuring it, and a case for reassessment of the heritage status and restoration.

About the speaker:

Michael Organ is former University Archivist and Repository Manager at the University of Wollongong, a Greens Federal member of parliament, Secretary of the Illawarra Historical Society, Chair of the Wollongong Art Gallery Committee, and present committee member of the Friends of the National Film and Sound Archive. Michael’s research interests include Metropolis 1927, movie posters, Indigenous history and language, and colonial artists, including Conrad Martens. He is an inveterate blogger.

August 2024