Dyarubbin: Exhibition Review

Written by Brei Dwyer, RAHS Volunteer & Member Professor Grace Karskens’ research led her to the discovery of a document that has changed our understanding of the Darug people of Dyarubbin (the Hawkesbury River, NSW). This document, alongside other revealing sources, are a part of the Dyarubbin Exhibition at the State Library of NSW until March 2022. Dyarubbin was an important resource in sustaining Darug people long before white settlement and remains intrinsically connected to Darug culture and spirituality. In … Read More

Exciting New World: Australia in the 1920s

On Saturday 6 November, the RAHS is holding a special online event, exploring the Exciting New World: Australia in the 1920s and 1930s. This is the first in a series of two blog posts about the interwar decades, providing an overview of the broad spectrum of changes which occurred across Australian politics, society, and culture during that time. For further information and bookings visit the website Written by Elizabeth Heffernan, RAHS Intern ‘… the power of the modern … simultaneously exhilarated … Read More

Media Release – Exciting New World: Australian Life in the 1920s and 1930s

In August, the RAHS made the difficult decision to postpone our 2021 Conference in light of the COVID-19 situation in Greater Sydney and NSW. While we look forward to welcoming our members and affiliates to the postponed conference in Bathurst in 2022, we have some exciting news to conclude what has been a turbulent year for us all. The RAHS is pleased to announce a special event held online via Zoom on Saturday 6 November which will delve into an … Read More

How science was communicated in colonial New South Wales

By Davina Jackson [PhD, M.Arch, FRGS, FRSA, FRSN] Two hundred years ago, in June 1821, Australia’s first learned society was launched in Sydney. Named the Philosophical Society of Australasia – because ‘natural philosophy’ was the prevalent term for science at that time – the group comprised seven prominent men who shared the goal of establishing a museum of natural history. The founders were Judge Barron Field, Dr Henry Grattan Douglass, Colonial Secretary Frederick Goulburn, surveyor John Oxley, merchant Edward Wollstonecraft, … Read More

Call out for blue plaque nominations to celebrate our state’s heritage

Communities across the state can now nominate heritage places linked to notable personalities and events for recognition as part of the NSW Blue Plaques program. Local Members of Parliament (MPs) or Members of the Legislative Council (MLCs) will be asking their communities to provide suggestions on sites which represent a significant story, person or event. The MPs and MLCs will then nominate these sites to Heritage NSW for a Blue Plaque. Minister responsible for Heritage Don Harwin said whether its … Read More

Too Much Cabbage & Jesus Christ: Australia’s ‘Mission Girl’ Annie Lock

A terrific book – lively, informative, engaging. Strikes the right note of uncertainty about how we should now feel about humanitarianism such as Lock’s. – Tim Rowse, Professor Emeritus For too long Annie Lock has been a mere footnote in Australian history. We should all be grateful to Cath Bishop, her nuanced research and beautiful prose reveals not only Annie but her many proteges, friends, and subjects. This book deserves a wide audience. – Prof Lynette Russell AM (Monash University), ARC Kathleen … Read More

‘People of the River’ wins 2021 NSW Premier’s History Award

Congratulations to Grace Karskens who was awarded the NSW Premier’s History Award in the Australian History Prize category for her book People of the River: Lost Worlds of Early Australia. People of the River traces the histories of Aboriginal people and settlers on Dyarubbin, the Hawkesbury-Nepean River, from Deep Time through to the nineteenth century. The judges’ panel said the book ‘is an impressive reflection on the pivotal place river landscapes played in the early history of Australia … it … Read More

Frances Burke: Designer of Modern Textiles

An elegantly illustrated celebration of iconic Australian designer Frances Burke Frances Burke was Australia’s most influential and celebrated textile designer of the 20th century. From the late 1930s to 1970, her designs achieved a prominence unparalleled in Australia before or since. Displaying imagery and colours from native flora, marine objects, Indigenous artefacts and designs of pure abstraction, Burke’s innovative fabrics remain fresh and appealing, distinctive and evocative of Australia. In New Design, her fabric showroom and interior design consultancy, Burke … Read More

ISAA (NSW) Presents ‘The Cheating Game’

Contracting to Cheat: What Cheating at Uni Looks Like These Days and What We Are Doing About It Contract cheating ─ students employing or using another person to produce a piece of work that is submitted as their own ─ is an epidemic afflicting universities worldwide. Associate Professor Ellis, who has been recognised for her research and active involvement in drawing attention to contract cheating in universities, will discuss what is being done to put a stop to this ‘Cheating … Read More

National Threatened Species Day

Benjamin, the last thylacine, photographed in captivity in 1936

Written by Elizabeth Heffernan, RAHS Intern On 7 September 1936, Benjamin, the world’s last known thylacine, died in captivity at Hobart Zoo from suspected neglect. Despite decades of a rapidly dwindling population, hastened by habitat destruction, disease, the incursion of introduced species, and human intervention, the species had only been declared protected two months prior. It would take fifty years before the thylacine—better known as the Tasmanian tiger after the distinctive stripes along its back—was pronounced officially extinct, in 1986. … Read More

The Countess of Kirribilli

She was Australian born, an international bestselling author and a member of the glamorous literary, intellectual and society salons of late nineteenth and early twentieth century London and Europe. Elizabeth von Arnim may have been born on the shores of Sydney Harbour, but it was in Victorian London that she discovered society and society discovered her. She made her Court debut before Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace, was pursued by a Prussian count and married into the formal world of … Read More

History Week 2021 – From the Ground Up

About History Week History Week is the annual, state-wide celebration of History organised by the History Council of New South Wales. Initiated by the HCNSW in 1997, History Week is a fantastic opportunity for member organisations, large and small, throughout NSW to engage and educate the community about the vitality, diversity and meaning of History and its practice. About History Week 2021 A diverse range of online events will be presented during History Week 2021! The History Week Events Calendar is available to … Read More

‘Truganini’ wins 2021 National Biography Award

A “vivid and complex” portrait of remarkable First Nations woman Truganini has won this year’s $25,000 National Biography Award, the nation’s richest prize for biographical writing, the State Library of NSW announced Thursday 26 August 2021. Truganini: Journey through the apocalypse by Cassandra Pybus (Allen & Unwin) presents the extraordinary story of Truganini, a Nuenonne woman from Bruny Island, off Tasmania, whose life has been shrouded in myth for almost two centuries. In this award-winning work, Truganini claims her place … Read More

History of De Mestre Place, George Street, Sydney

Written by Shirley O’Donovan In July 2021, Shirley O’Donovan brought to the attention of the RAHS the demolition of Nos. 300 and 312-318 George Street for the proposed new Sydney CBD metro station. Bisecting the two buildings is De Mestre Place, one of the oldest laneways in Sydney and named after Prosper de Mestre who operated his stores on the site from 1821 to 1844. Under no illusion that the site will be lost to make way for the new … Read More

Refund Policy

Last updated: 23/08/2021 Refund Policy – Membership Membership payments are non-refundable unless an error has occurred due to the fault of RAHS. In this instance, all steps will be taken to rectify the issue as soon as possible. If you sign up for annual or bi-annual membership payments, you or your organisation are committing to be a member of the Society until such time as your membership expires and you do not renew it. Memberships are non-transferable to other people … Read More

Media Release – Researching Soldiers in Your Local Community

War memorials are an everyday part of the Australian landscape. They are an excellent starting point to answer questions about neighbours past and present, family members, and our local community at large. As sources of local history, war memorials are invaluable as they can connect us to the men and women who once called our neighbourhood home. Each name has a story attached, and the increasing availability of online resources means that researching them is more achievable than ever. But … Read More

The 200-year anniversary of Catholic Education in Australia

Written by Ryan Lung, RAHS Volunteer 200 years ago, the first Catholic school in Australia was founded on Hunter Street, Parramatta. Today, 1,751 Catholic schools educate about 768,000 students and employ 98,000 staff.[1] Overall, one in five Australians have been educated at Catholic schools![2] However, Catholic education was almost non-existent in the early part of the nineteenth century. In the years leading up to the establishment of the first school in October 1820, Catholic community life was not in good shape. … Read More

Historical Guide to New South Wales

Phillip Simpson’s 2020 Historical Guide to New South Wales is a worthy successor to the tradition of nineteenth century gazetteers. As the late Dr Ian Jack wrote in his Foreword: For a century and a half, historians have been heavily indebted to Robert Whitworth, the editor of Bailliere’s New South Wales Gazetteer and Road Guide. Anyone concerned with the State of New South Wales in the 1860s or before has been readily able to find basic information about every locality, systematically and punctiliously presented … Read More

Public History Review Vol. 28 (2021): Statue Wars: Protest, Public Histories and Problematic Plinths

A special issue of Public History Review Vol. 28 (2021): Statue Wars: Protest, Public Histories and Problematic Plinths, edited by Dr Kiera Lindsey and Dr Mariko Smith, was launched on 12 July 2021. It includes a collection of refereed articles and invited commentaries investigating the 2020 statue wars and their aftermath in the context of the Black Lives Matter Movement. The issue is free to download and will be of special interest to all historians, in particular teachers and those … Read More

On this Day: Albert Jacka’s Victoria Cross

Jacka's citation with portrait

Written by Elizabeth Heffernan, RAHS Intern On Saturday 24 July 1915, a supplement to the London Gazette was published, recording the military honours King George V had bestowed upon his British and imperial subjects during what was then known as the Great War. Four men were awarded the Victoria Cross, the British empire’s highest military honour, for ‘conspicuous bravery’ in the line of enemy fire. One of these men was an Australian, Lance-Corporal Albert Jacka, today one of our country’s … Read More