Australia’s Great Depression by Joan Beaumont

How a nation shattered by the Great War survived the worst economic crisis it has ever faced. Some generations are born unlucky. Australians who survived the horrors of the Great War and the Spanish flu epidemic that followed were soon faced with the shock of the Great Depression. Today we remember long dole queues, shanty towns and destitute men roaming the country in search of work. With over a third of the workforce unemployed in 1932, Australia was one of … Read More

RAHS Excursions: Learn about history in your local area!

The RAHS is recommencing excursions across Sydney and its suburbs this Winter season. Join Judith Dunn and Donna Newton, with assistance from local guides, to learn more about these historic locations and institutions. Parramatta Girls Home – Tuesday 31 May 2022 Visit the Parramatta Girls Home at the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct. Someone who was sent to Parramatta Girls Home as a child will give a talk on her experiences in the home before we inspect two of the buildings … Read More

War Crimes in Australian History: From the Boer War to Vietnam

Australia espouses adherence to the laws of armed conflict, and support for the institutions that monitor them. Australia has been an overt and enthusiastic supporter, and an ‘early adopter’, of most international treaties applicable to the law of armed conflict. Australia has firmly, but fairly, investigated and prosecuted the war crimes of our adversaries. While Australia’s record of compliance with the law of armed conflict is a good one, there are, from the Boer War through to the Vietnam War, … Read More

Judith Anderson: Australian Star, First Lady of the American Stage

Everyone knows Mrs Danvers as a byword for menace in Hitchcock’s Rebecca and as a poster girl for lesbians in the movies. But only dedicated fans know her brilliant creator. This book tells Judith Anderson’s life story for the first time. It recovers her career as one of the great stars of stage and television and an important character actress in film. Born in Adelaide, Australia, in 1897, brought up by a determined single mother, she parlayed her rich, velvety … Read More

National Archaeology Week 2022

Celebrate National Archaeology Week 2022 by joining the RAHS for an online evening lecture! When: Wednesday 18 May 2022 | Time: 6.30 – 7.30pm | How: Online via Zoom Known, Unknowns: The Archaeology of the Devonshire Street Cemetery What happened when a cemetery exhumed in 1901 was impacted on by modern redevelopment? This is the case of the Devonshire Street Cemetery which occupied a sand ridge from 1819 to 1901. After 1901 the graved were exhumed and reburied. The sand … Read More

Catholic History Award to South Australian writer: A story of survival

The Australian Catholic Historical Society has awarded its $1,000 MacGinley award to Adelaide historian Jo Vandepeer. Her winning essay, ‘The atelier of St Dominic’s Priory’, tells the story of nineteenth century Dominican nuns who arrived in Adelaide expecting to work in a hospital. When that proved impossible, they were thrown on their own resources and developed high-quality ecclesiastical needlework to survive. The James MacGinley award, established by the family of the historian Sr Rosa MacGinley pbvm, is for an original, … Read More

Before and After 1822: Aboriginal and European people in the Paterson Valley

New book on Aboriginal and European people in the Paterson Valley Paterson Historical Society has released a new book to recognise and reflect on 200 years since the start of large-scale dispossession of Aboriginal people from their land in the Paterson Valley when the area was thrown open to widespread colonisation via land grants. Titled Before and After 1822 – Aboriginal and European People in the Paterson Valley, the book has been written by historian Dr Brian Walsh. The book … Read More

Penrith Heritage Walk: Step into Penrith’s rich past

The new Penrith Heritage Walk invites you to step into the City’s rich past and discover, at your own pace, the people, places and open spaces that have helped shape Penrith. Simply head to the Visit Penrith website to get the mobile-friendly interactive map – your guide to discovery! Starting at the historic Penrith Train Station, the 11-kilometre trail leads you to 22 points of interest through Thornton and along the river and finishes at the state significant Emu Plains … Read More

Kamay Spears obtained in 1770 return to Sydney

Three spears that were taken from Kamay (Botany Bay) by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770 will be on display at the University of Sydney’s Chau Chak Wing Museum from 8 April to 10 July 2022. The spears are displayed alongside 37 contemporary spears, representing the 40 taken by members of Cook’s Endeavour crew during their eight days at Kamay (Botany Bay). The spears are part of the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA) collection and have been linked to … Read More

Sound Citizens: Australian Women Broadcasters Claim their Voice, 1923-1956

In 1954 Dame Enid Lyons, the first woman elected to the Australian House of Representatives, argued that radio had ‘created a bigger revolution in the life of a woman than anything that has happened any time’ as it brought the public sphere into the home and women into the public sphere. Taking this claim as its starting point, Sound Citizens examines how a cohort of professional women broadcasters, activists and politicians used radio to contribute to the public sphere and improve … Read More

Dear Prime Minister: Letters to Robert Menzies, 1949–1966

‘I am sir [sure] you will act as human bean’, wrote one distressed pensioner to Prime Minister Robert Menzies in 1953, pleading for assistance. Robert Menzies received 22,000 letters during his record-breaking 1949-1966 second term as Australian Prime Minister. From war veterans, widows and political leaders to school students and homespun philosophers. Ordinary citizens sent their congratulations and grievances and commented on speeches they had heard on radio. They lectured him, quoted Shakespeare and the Bible at him and sent … Read More

Exciting New World – Recorded Lectures on YouTube

It is with great pleasure that we can now announce the release of all three recorded lectures from the morning session of our Exciting New World: Australian Life in the 1920s and 1930s seminar. The videos are available to re-watch on the RAHS YouTube channel. In the three talks you will hear from conservation architect Scott MacArthur of the Marrickville Heritage Society, Dr Anna Wong, Director, ACT Historic Places, and RAHS Councillor and former NFSA historian Graham Shirley. Australian Architecture … Read More

Showcasing a Regional Powerhouse: Reshaping the Hunter

Reshaping the Hunter, a new book by award-winning local author Evan McHugh, takes a sweeping view of engineering in the Newcastle region over the last 40 years. Subtitled How Engineering Innovation Reinvented a Region the book examines engineering’s pivotal role in responding to significant economic and environmental challenges, including the Newcastle Earthquake in 1989 and closure of the BHP Steelworks in 1999. Featuring interviews with leading engineers and CEOs, what emerges is a community of professionals that is remarkably resilient, … Read More

Cecile Ramsay Sharp (1913-2006) – “Miss Huguenot”

To celebrate Women’s History Month in 2022, the Royal Australian Historical Society will continue our work from last year to highlight Australian women that have contributed to our history in various and meaningful ways. You can browse the women featured on our webpage, Women’s History Month. Written by Elizabeth O’Connor, RAHS Member, Secretary of the Watsons Bay & Vaucluse Social History Group My mother, Cecile Ramsay Sharp (nee Corbett) was born in 1913 at Hurstville, educated at Mt. St. Mary’s … Read More

Fanny Durack (1889-1956) and Mina Wylie (1891-1984)

Written by Elizabeth Heffernan, RAHS Volunteer To celebrate Women’s History Month in 2022, the Royal Australian Historical Society will continue our work from previous years to highlight Australian women that have contributed to our history in various and meaningful ways. You can browse the women featured on our webpage, Women’s History Month. 110 years ago, Stockholm hosted the first-ever women’s Olympic swimming event. Women had been competing at the Olympic Games since Paris 1900, in such events as sailing, golf, … Read More

National Emergency Services in central-western NSW

Can you help with my research into the National Emergency Services in central-western NSW? During World War II, each state had a civilian voluntary organisation which was set up to deal with air raid precautions and the impact of any aerial attack from an enemy invader. In NSW this organisation was called the National Emergency Services (NES) and its members were given training in first aid and how to deal with an aerial attack. Local organisations were established under the … Read More

The Wardian Case: How a Simple Box Moved Plants and Changed the World

The story of a nineteenth-century invention (essentially tiny greenhouse) that allowed for the first time the movement of plants around the world, feeding new agricultural industries, the commercial nursery trade, botanic and private gardens, invasive species, imperialism, and more. Roses, jasmine, fuchsia, chrysanthemums, and rhododendrons bloom in gardens across the world, and yet many of the most common varieties have roots in Asia. How is this global flowering possible? In 1829, surgeon and amateur naturalist Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward placed soil, dried … Read More

Louise Lovely (1895-1980)

Written by Elizabeth Heffernan, RAHS Volunteer To celebrate Women’s History Month in 2022, the Royal Australian Historical Society will continue our work from previous years to highlight Australian women that have contributed to our history in various and meaningful ways. You can browse the women featured on our webpage, Women’s History Month. In the early 2000s, the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards—now known as the AACTAs—tried out the nickname “the Lovelys”, in the style of the Oscars. The name did not … Read More

The Gallipoli Legend: A Reappraisal

How the 1st AIF performed in the climactic phase of the fighting on the Western Front, in August- September 1918, provided evidence for exactly what the Australian people had been longing to hear for many-a-year: that when in uniform their young men were the best-of-the-best. Having been expertly trained in state-of-the-art infantry tactics, and under the command of John Monash, in 1918 they performed spectacularly well on the battlefield. But such had not been the case when they first went … Read More

Wagga Wagga Rate Books Digitisation Project

The Wagga Wagga & District Historical Society have welcomed the support of the State Government and the RAHS through the 2021 Cultural Grants Program for their Rate Books Digitisation Project. The funding will see rate records of the Wagga Wagga Council digitised and available on the State Archives website. The records date from 1870, when the Wagga Wagga Borough Council was first formed, and extend to 1949, covering the additional records of the Wagga Wagga Municipal Council and the Wagga … Read More