‘This is the ABC’

Sydney's General Post Office, c. 1935

Written by RAHS volunteer Elizabeth Heffernan On Friday, 1 July 1932, after the 8pm bells of Sydney’s General Post Office, Conrad Charlton announced to the country: “This is the Australian Broadcasting Commission.” [1] It was the ABC’s first wireless radio broadcast after the Australian Broadcasting Commission Act 1932 was passed on 17 May. The transmission is estimated to have reached 6% of the country’s population at the time—almost 400 000 people from as far away as Perth. [2] The leaders … Read More

History Week 2020 – History: What is it good for?

Registrations are now open for History Week 2020 and close at 5pm on Monday, 27 July 2020 – Online & In-person History Week is the annual, state-wide celebration of history organised by the History Council of New South Wales. This is your opportunity to share your latest passion, a long term project or research that has moved you. Involve your local community in histories that matter through History Week 2020. What is the theme of History Week 2020? The theme of … Read More

Bungaree, Burigon and Aboriginal Newcastle

State Library of New South Wales: Scholar Talk During the years of the convict penal station at Newcastle (1804–23) Aboriginal people continued to live in and around the outpost, coming and going at will. Their presence was used by the colonial authorities as one form of unofficial control over the convicts, with guides and trackers in constant use to catch bolting convicts. They were also considered, on some levels, to be friends and comrades by the various commandants who ruled over … Read More

NSW Government Supports Our Diverse and Rich Local History, One of Our State’s Greatest Assets

23 June 2020 Royal Australian Historical Society (RAHS) President Christine Yeats announced today that ten local history projects will receive funding from the Small Grants Program for Local History and Archives. This grants program is administered by the Royal Australian Historical Society on behalf of the NSW Government through the Heritage Council of NSW. ‘History matters and it doesn’t have to be history on a global or national scale to be important. Focusing on history from the ‘ground up’ is … Read More

The Convict Valley: The bloody struggle on Australia’s early frontier

‘Deeply researched and beautifully written.’ – Professor Grace Karskens ‘Interweaving the Aboriginal, convict and mining pasts of the Hunter Valley, gifted storyteller Dunn reveals the missing and misunderstood complexities of these histories.’ – Professor John Maynard, The University of Newcastle ‘In this groundbreaking book, Mark Dunn shows how the Hunter Valley became the heartland of convict Australia.’ – Professor Lyndall Ryan, author of Tasmanian Aborigines The story of the second British penal settlement in Australia, where a notoriously brutal convict regime … Read More

Outside Off – Riot of 1879

Written by Maximilian Reid, RAHS volunteer RIOT, BETS AND CLASS “Cricket is now the prevailing amusement of the day. Let no man henceforth set up for a sporting character whose name is not enrolled among the ‘gentlemen cricketers’ of Sydney”[1] The Sydney Gazette, on the formation of a new cricket club, 1832. Victorian gentility, civility, and sobriety. If there is ever an image to be conjured of early colonial cricket, it seems to be this one.[2] However, early colonial cricket … Read More

Significance of St John’s Cemetery Parramatta

Written by Judith Dunn, RAHS Councillor and President of Friends of St John’s Cemetery In these days of a seemingly mad scramble to develop any conceivable space, the importance of our heritage is sometimes being overlooked by developers.  St John’s Cemetery at Parramatta is the oldest remaining European cemetery in Australia, the first burial recorded on 31 January 1790.  State Heritage listed in 1999, it neatly encapsulates and reflects the early growing town revealing local work trends, prosperity and poverty, … Read More

National Volunteer Week 2020

Every year, National Volunteer Week celebrates the contributions of our nation’s volunteers towards charities, organisations, communities, and the country as a whole. This week (18 – 24 May) marks National Volunteer Week 2020, with the theme: “Changing Communities. Changing Lives.” The Royal Australian Historical Society is indebted to our volunteers who regularly contribute their time and effort across all facets of our organisation, from library services to digital content. On the RAHS Instagram this week we featured a selection of … Read More

Chinese Migrant Culture on the Georges River

Chinese Australian Historical Society Appeal for Information This exhibition intends to uncover the identity and stories of people and places in the Georges River area, associated with Chinese migration history, incorporating historical material, personal stories and artist’s interpretations, visualising stories of place and migrant experience The focus on the urban environment of Hurstville and surrounding suburbs celebrates the long association with Chinese culture in the Georges River area. The historical, social and cultural context for the migration of the Chinese … Read More

Kamay Botany Bay: Endeavour 250

Wednesday April 29, 2020 marked 250 years since Lieutenant James Cook and his crew on the HMB Endeavour landed at Kamay Botany Bay in 1770. His landing was challenged by two men from the Gweagal clan of the Dharawal nation. The Endeavour voyage to Botany Bay is a defining moment in Australia’s history, but it also remains one of the most divisive. The event has been celebrated as a foundation moment, contested as the beginning of British imperialism, and more … Read More

Shortlists announced for Australian History Awards

Shortlists for the 2020 Ernest Scott Prize and Dick & Joan Green Family Award for Tasmanian History were announced this week. Ernest Scott Prize The Ernest Scott Prize for History is awarded annually to the book judged to be the most distinguished contribution to the history of Australia and New Zealand or to the history of colonisation published in the previous year. Bedlam at Botany Bay by James Dunk (NewSouth, 2019) The Seventies: The personal, the political and the making … Read More

J.W. Lewin: Australia’s first free professional artist

State Library of New South Wales:  Scholar Talk John William Lewin (1770-1819), Australia’s first free professional artist, arrived in Sydney in 1800. His career trajectory, from working-class natural history illustrator to (at least in his own eyes) Australia’s first gentleman artist, provides a fascinating reflection on the motivations of the making of colonial art. About the speaker: Richard Neville is the Mitchell Librarian and Director of Education & Scholarship at the State Library of NSW. With a research background in nineteenth … Read More

Mixed Media on Chinese-Australian history

The Chinese Australian Historical Society have kindly put together a series of links to lectures, documentaries and interviews on a variety of topics related to Chinese-Australian history. New Stories, Bold Legends – a Podcast series by Valerie Khoo Mirroring the past lecture series – from the Australia China Institute of Arts and Culture:                An overview of Chinese Australian history (with English transcript)                Before there was Gold (pre-1788 to 1818)   … Read More

RAHS AGM in 1919 – The impact of the influenza

In the extraordinary times of COVID-19 that we presently find ourselves, adjustments have had to be made to how we maintain safe social distancing. As our members would be aware, the Royal Australian Historical Society Annual General Meeting was held in a novel way this year – via Zoom video conferencing. Given these circumstances, you may be wondering, how was the AGM held in 1919 during the ‘Spanish flu’ pandemic? The following is an extract from The Daily Telegraph, dated … Read More

Anzac Day 1918: Different, but not forgotten

An Australian flag laid on the grass surrounding the memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. Photograph by Marie-Paule Bonte, 2020.

Written by Elizabeth Heffernan, RAHS volunteer The twice-a-day Amiens train rattles into Villers-Bretonneux station, dead autumn leaves swept to the sides of the platform and rusted overpass looming above the tracks. The small, French village is silent, cobbled streets empty in the early morning gloom. Google Maps points the way past the houses and into the fields beyond; the path laid out before us is slippery with mud and wet cut grass. Fresh rain promises. It is three kilometres from … Read More

Archive Fever – La Trobe University Podcast

Archive Fever is a new Australian history podcast featuring intimate conversations with writers, artists, curators, historians and other victims of the research bug. In each episode, co-hosts Clare Wright and Yves Rees talk to archive addicts about what kind of archives they use, how often they use them, and when they got their first hit. Season One features discussions with Chloe Hooper, Tony Birch, Gwenda Taven, Jack Serong, Billy Griffiths, Rachel Buchanan, Paul Daley, and Noah Riseman and Julie Peters. … Read More

Oodgeroo Noonuccal (1920-1993)

Written by Elizabeth Heffernan, RAHS Volunteer To celebrate Women’s History Month in 2020, 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. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this webpage contains the images and names of people who have passed away. Activist, educator, environmentalist, and the first Aboriginal … Read More

Annie Lock (1876-1943)

Written by Dr Catherine Bishop, Macquarie University To celebrate Women’s History Month in 2020, 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. ‘A crank’ and ‘a damn fool’ were two of the epithets applied to missionary Annie Lock in the late 1920s. ‘Missionary heroine’ and ‘Big Boss to the … Read More

Shirley Coleen Smith (1921-1998)

Mum Shirl (Mrs Shirley Smith) speaking at the Australia Day ceremony at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in front of Old Parliament House, Canberra, 26 January 1998 / Loui Seselja [Image courtesy National Library of Australia, NL38352]

Written by Elizabeth Heffernan, RAHS Volunteer To celebrate Women’s History Month in 2020, 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. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this webpage contains the images and names of people who have passed away. Known as Mum Shirl among the Aboriginal … Read More

Daphne Mayo (1895-1982)

Daphne Mayo working on the Brisbane City Hall tympanum, c. 1930 [Image courtesy University of Queensland Fryer Library, UQFL119]

Written by Elizabeth Heffernan, RAHS Volunteer To celebrate Women’s History Month in 2020, 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. In 1927, popular women’s magazine Woman’s World published a profile on an emerging young female sculptor. “She is such a little bit of a thing,” they reported, “that … Read More