May 7, 2016

World War One - Bruce Scates on 100 personal stories

Author Q&A: Bruce Scates on 100 personal stories of World War I

If you could track down one thing you haven’t yet managed to find out, what would it be?
Can I say that there’s a lost opportunity here. We did have an opportunity with the centenary, and I served on the Anzac Centenary Committee – these stories were originally commissioned by the Australian government. The government decided that these stories were too confronting, too uncomfortable, to be told.

There was one particular story, a story of Frank Wilkinson, a man who was a war hero. He was awarded the military medal in Passchendaele – he survived the war but he doesn’t survive the peace. He comes home and he killed himself – which is not uncommon with soldier-settlers who failed on the land. But he also killed his wife and his daughter.

And the moment that I related this story in Canberra, I saw this committee and the looks on their faces and the horror, but it was simply the truth. The truth of what war does to people. And today, of course, we look quite sympathetically towards Frank Wilkinson and recognise that this was a case of post-traumatic stress and not hasten to judge him, but it seems to me in Canberra what we had was judgment: this story was too confronting to be told. So for me as a historian that involved making choices.

Historians have no choice other than to tell the truth. And I think that we have to confront that, that brutal truth of what war did to people.
So to my mind, what the 100 Stories represent is clutching at a lost opportunity. The lost opportunity was that we as a nation could acknowledge the devastating effect on war. And that would’ve signalled, I think, our maturity. I don’t know that we’ve done that. I think that Canberra showed a degree of cowardice in its failure to acknowledge that true scale of loss. So yeah, to my mind, that’s what the stories signal – what they signal is the way that people wanted the truth to be told, despite the fact that those in positions of great power didn’t want those stories to be told. So I think it’s a triumph of a democratic style of storytelling.

Is there anything you’d like to add about the book?
And I think that the involvement of early career researchers in this book changed its nature and made it an immensely richer project. I think that it’s great to have those insights from a new generation of historians woven through the book. And I think that a collaborative endeavour is so much stronger than an individual statement, so I hope that what the book helps to do is to show that these great collaborations are actually possible even within a punishing timeframe. And that it helps promote that spirit of collaboration more widely in the profession, because we have to do this.

The other thing that Jay Winter said [at the book’s launch] is that if we don’t engage with what you might call the popular history of the war – if we don’t actually address the histories we write to as wide an audience as possible, then we really abdicate that space to the journalists, to the politicians, to the people who are really spinning slogans and who often lack any genuine historical insight. So we have to occupy this space and we’ve got to occupy this space in a different way.

So I think in a number of regards, 100 Stories was a great experiment. It’s not for me to say whether it succeeds or not. It’ll be very interesting to see what impact it has particularly out there with history teachers. If I was a history teacher, I would be looking at this book at a resource that is giving you a fresh take – I mean, we’ve had the old stories being spun by Canberra for so long and this really is a new take on everything and I hope it changes the agenda in some way.

Ref: Inside History 6 May 2016

April 13, 2016

Access to Funding

Successfully obtaining funds for your museum or gallery requires knowledge and creativity. Access to Funding is a workshop delivering specialist knowledge to make accessing funds a reality.

 This workshop by Museum & Galleries of NSW will provide you with a chance to talk about projects face to face with funding representatives and give you hints on writing winning grant applications.

For full details and registration form click here.

April 8, 2016

RAHS at the Kiama Family, Social and Local History Expo

RAHS at the Kiama Family, Social and Local History Expo

Saturday April 16 @ 9.30 am to 4.00 pm

Speakers various - FREE event 

For more information click here

Ref: RAHS Newsletter April 2016

February 16, 2016

Lithgow & District Family History Society celebrtes 30 years

Left to right. Nancy Draper, Esther Coleman-Hart, 
Yvonne Jenkins, Scott and Helen Taylor, Thelma Draper. 
Seated, Helen Tracy and Jan Saundercock.
In the Dungeon under Lithgow Library. 1986
Celebrating their 30th Birthday, the members of the Lithgow & District Family History Society are holding an Open Day at their Resource Centre on the corner of Tank & Donald Streets on Saturday 5th March 2016 between 10 am and 4pm.

The Society’s first meetings were held in 1986, in what was referred to as ‘the Dungeon’, a small room in the basement of the Charles H Hoskins Memorial Institute, underneath the then Lithgow City Library. The demand for more space saw a relocation to the LINC building on the corner of Padley Street and Railway Parade. Each Friday members of the committee put out the tables, set up the microfiche readers and ‘opened for business’.

The Society’s move from the LINC premises to the Ewen Smith Memorial Hall was due to the generosity of the Lithgow City Council. The building was relocated from another site by Apex Club Lithgow for the Civilian Widows Association. The Society was able to obtain a lease when the building became vacant in 1991.

Exclusive use of this Centre has allowed for permanent storage of the Society’s collection of books, microfiche, photographs and other resources. A network of computers has allowed the digitisation of and easier access to the Society’s many paper records, and to the many web-based records now available.

Donations of photographs, family trees, letters or copies of these items are always welcome and the Open Day provides an opportunity to share family stories or photographs or just check out some of the records in the Resource Centre at no charge.

Left to right - Kathy Brennan, Ian Irvine, Laurie Cook, Marcie Farr 
and Sandy Banks- Smith at the Resource Centre. 2016

February 8, 2016

Breakfast with Banjo

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On Sunday February 14th and 21st, a small bus will be leaving at 9am from the Orange Visitor Centre to
Retrace the steps of Banjos early years.
Visit to Banjo Park, Emmaville cottage, Boree Nyrang, Molong and Cumnock to Yeoval. Along the way see the ‘Animals on bikes’
Once at Yeoval join in the fun of ‘A Day with Banjo’ at the ‘More than a Poet Museum’.
Lunch will be at own cost at the B.B.Q. and admission to the Museum free.
Cost $50.00 for the day including returning to Orange
All proceed to the Regional Museum
Bookings required as numbers are limited.
For details contact Elizabeth Griffin 6361 1920 or 0437 868 595