Welcome to the Federation of Australian Historical Societies 

No. 153, 14th July 2016
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FAHS Initiative - A New Guide on Succession Planning
Succession Planning for Historical Societies
A FAHS Initiative

Do you have a good succession plan?

What tasks need to be performed for sustainability of the historical society?

What is your business model for sustainability?

Why we need to think about Succession Planning and Membership

One of the clear messages coming out of the FAHS Survey responses is that a major challenge for many societies is ageing and declining membership, but even when this is not a problem it can be difficult to find people willing to undertake office-bearer responsibilities.
A certain amount of general guidance on these matters is already available on the web, but it does not necessarily deal with the particular characteristics of historical societies and what they do.
Some societies have strong membership numbers but a poor response when executive positions need to be filled. Some have good leaders but small memberships. Some show that successful events and leadership produce all-round success. What lessons and guidance can these and other experiences offer?

The FAHS Outreach Officer, Dr Bernadette Flynn will be compiling an online guide about how to improve membership recruitment and committee succession in historical societies and similar organisations.

Dr Flynn will be evaluating the already available material on the web over the next few months and make a selection of those most appropriate to recommend to historical societies. Do you have any models that you can recommend ?

Bernadette will be approaching leaders of some of the most successful societies across Australia to try to gauge the reasons for their success. Please contact Bernadette directly on or 02-4377-1682 for an interview or informal discussion.

A practical online training guide that will offer both appropriate suggestions and a compilation of web links will be prepared for publication in early 2017. 

Celebrating NAIDOC Week and Heritage, 3rd - 10th July

NAIDOC week and heritage 

The theme of this year’s NAIDOC week, which ran from July 3 to 10, was Songlines: The Living Narrative of Our Nation.

The FAHS celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements and recognises the contributions that Indigenous Australians make to our country and our society.

One of the many events for NAIDOC week was at Parramatta - The area of Parramatta has been occupied by the Burramattagal people, a clan of the Darug, who lived here along the upper reaches of the Parramatta River. Burramattagal is thought to be derived from the Aboriginal word for the 'place where the eels lie down' to breed (in the Parramatta River).

Mi-kaisha Parramatta Eels Jannawi Dance Clan & Uncle Greg Simms performing the smoking ceremony at the Old Government House - National Trust of Australia NSW. City of Parramatta

Aboriginal culture and heritage was celebrated at Burramatta NAIDOC with live entertainment, workshops, outdoor markets and a colourful lights show and fireworks finale along the Parramatta River foreshore on Sunday 10 July, from 1pm to 6pm.

This year’s event explored the theme for NAIDOC Week, Songlines: The Living Narrative of Our Nation, with the community able to learn about the history and diversity of Aboriginal Australia and the relationships between the land, river, sea and the people.

“Burramatta NAIDOC showcases the incredibly important contribution Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make to our cultural life, and is a great way to bring our local communities together,” City of Parramatta Administrator Amanda Chadwick said. 

Burramatta NAIDOC Creative Consultant Jacinta Tobin said: “Songlines is an important theme for me as a Darug songwriter, as the songlines of the past told us how ancestral spirits created the land and life and today they are layered with other stories of colonisation, migration and our changing landscape.

“I welcome everyone to come along to Burramatta NAIDOC and help strengthen your connection to local Aboriginal people through song, culture and art. Help keep the songlines of Burramatta alive and celebrate our shared culture as Australians.”

National Archives of Australia - 15 million collection items are on the move

                Artist's impression of National Archives Preservation Facility, Mitchell ACT

The National Archives of Australia is moving the Canberra-based collection and some of its audio visual collection from Sydney to a new preservation and storage facility currently being constructed in Canberra. This relocation of some 15 million items will commence in November 2016 and continue through until 30 June 2017. The new facility will ensure the collection continues to be preserved for future generations.
During this period access to the National Archives’ collection based in Canberra and some audiovisual material from Sydney will be disrupted.
There will be periods when it is not possible for the Archives to provide access to records within the timeframes of its Service Charter.
Access to Archives records online or those held in National Archives state and territory offices will not be affected.
NAA Media release - 26 Feb 2015 - A contemporary new home for the nation's archival treasures
NAA Media Release - 15 Sep 2015 - Safekeeping Australia's history
NAA Media release - 5Feb 2016 - 15 million items ready to roll
Preserving your history for the future
Time-lapse slideshow of building progress
During this period access to the National Archives’ collection based in Canberra and some audiovisual material from Sydney will be disrupted.
Sources: NAA website and e-mail from Stewart Crawford (Senior Reference Officer, Reference and Information Services, NAA) re disruption to services during move.


Fire destroys top floor of Essendon Historical Society Museum

Fire breaks out at Essendon Historical Society Museum

A blaze has swept through a 125-year-old former court house containing old records and valuable photos in Melbourne's north-west.

The Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) said at least 50 firefighters tackled the fire at the building, which houses the Essendon Historical Society Museum, on Mount Alexander Road at Moonee Ponds about 8:30am on 27th June.

The top floor of the two-storey former court house was fully ablaze, but crews brought the fire under control within an hour.

A large amount of smoke billowed from the building and people were advised to avoid the area.

The MFB said a faulty light transformer in the building's ceiling caused the fire and the damage bill would be about $450,000.

Essendon Historical Society president Bob Chalmers said he was devastated.

"We've got all our records and photos inside and we've worked very, very hard to restore the building in recent times and now it's ruined," he said. "It's heartbreaking."

Old photos could be lost in blaze

Mr Chalmers said the photo collection housed in the building was valuable.

"Mainly photos of the people and places dating well back so I don't know what state they'll be in, but it won't be very good," he said.

"We were in the process of digitising the photos, and there are some off site probably that we can rescue but we won't know until we look into it how much we've actually lost."

The bulk of the Collection was fortunately spared from the worst by being stored in other rooms that suffered minimal fire damage. Until further notice, the Museum will be closed.

To support the Essendon Historical Society in its recovery from the fire, please click hereAny financial assistance you can provide is urgently needed and gratefully received. Donations of $2 or more are tax-deductible.


Featured Historical Society - Moruya and District Historical Society 

The Moruya and District Historical Society (MDHS) is an independent, incorporated, non-profit organisation which carries out activities with the full support of a strong membership and an enthusiastic group of volunteers. It runs a museum, research and genealogy library and manages a large document, object and textile collection with an increasing number of objects on display in the museum's collection on ehive

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that the following article contains images of deceased persons.

The Moruya Museum houses a collection of furniture, books, artefacts and memorabilia that is intended to show visitors something of the lives of the ordinary people of this community from the middle of the nineteenth century. Most items on display were donated by local families. The result is an eclectic mix of considerable charm and interest.

Brian Harris, curator of the Moruya museum outlines the importance of engaging the community and going out into the community rather than waiting for the community to come to the museum. This is being achieved by the development of exhibitions and the showcasing of rotating displays, ensuring that the visitor experience is always different.

Brian attributes the success of MDHS to the enthusiastic volunteers who are open to these new ways. The Historical Society has linked to the culture, arts and real events in the town through public programs, curated and travelling exhibitions as well as social media (Blog, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and Pinterest,). Funding has been sought through continuously submitting grant applications and seeking sponsorship. The committee has also paid attention to policy and planning including a strategic plan for the museum, collections policy, conservation procedures and succession plans. 

A recent exhibition at the museum is Price's Cafe Exhibition (touring since 2013).  Price's Cafe is an exhibition, developed by SouthEast Arts, which celebrates Moruya's social hub for Aboriginal people in the 1950s and 60s. Inspired by stories told to Aboriginal artist Cheryl Davison and with words by celebrated Australian author and historian Mark McKenna, the interactive exhibition features interviews, archival photographs and a re-created cafe setting. This exhibition has touched many people during its travels through the South Coast and Southern Tablelands areas. A previous, highly successful exhibition The Wallpapered Manse takes a glimpse into the history of domestic interiors and artefacts of houses in the Eurobadalla. Working with Peter Freeman, leading conservation architect, the exhibition featured exquisite wallpapers from the 1860s through to more modern designs of the 1930s. A recent exhibition All About Hats (from the MDHS collection) is being prepared for touring.

The museum’s next exhibition Moruya Undressed, featuring the museums large collection of underwear is currently being curated for opening on 2 September.

         l: Publicity Flyer for Price's Cafe Touring Exhibition; r: Archival photograph from the Collection

Attached to the Museum is the Research area where resources for general genealogy research as well as a local studies collection can be found which includes files, archives and photographs. Aside from being a go to place for social history, the research area holds a large collection of photographs of the district and the pioneers who developed the area. While many are on display, many more are filed, indexed and stored in the museum's database. Family research will be conducted on behalf of visitors or interested correspondents. A fee of $25 is charged for each specific piece of research.

The Research Officer will conduct the search of MDHS records and will provide a written report of any findings. Please address any written enquiries as follows: Research Officer. Moruya and District Historical Society Inc.. PO Box 259 Moruya NSW 2537

Address: Museum and Genealogy Research Room: 85 Campbell Street, Moruya 
(02) 4474 3224 , NSW

Museum Opening Hours:
11am to 1pm  Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
January: 11am to 2pm every day except for public holidays/

Entry: Family $15.00; Adults $5.00; Children under 12 Free; School groups $3.00. Group tours and school groups by appointment.

Research room and Genealogy Opening Hours:
10am to 2pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 10am to 1pm first Saturday of the month. All Public Holidays Excepted. Contact Research Officer Helen Ryan

Sources: Web sites, blog, Facebook of Moruya and District Historical Society and interview with curator Brian Harris. Contact:

New History Museum opens in WA


Moora Historical Society has opened a new museum in Clinch Street, Moora. 

Open every Sunday from 10 am - 3 pm. 

Entry is $5 p/p and includes Devonshire Tea 

President Kaye Lewis reports – We have had 2 openings so far with a total of approximately 100 visitors. We are still opening Berkshire Valley Folk Museum twice a year with the next opening in September.  Contact: Kaye Lewis – 08 9651 1372

Source: History West, Published by the Royal Western Australian Historical Society, Inc. July 2016

14th Anniversary of Opening of Whim Creek Hotel, Pilbara, WA
 Frank and Tony Debono, Terry and Elsie Keenan, and Bronwyn and Paul Martin at the Whim Creek Hotel.  Picture: Louise Allingham

The Whim Creek Hotel is a famous landmark midway between Roebourne and Port Headland, and was renowned as a rest stop, hotel and drinking establishment for most of the 20th century.

The 140th anniversary of Whim Creek Hotel was celebrated on Sunday, 19th June 2016 attracting locals from around Karratha and Port Hedland. The hotel is one of two steel structures in Australia built by Dorman Long Company of Middlesborough, England, the other being the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Whim Creek town was established in response to the discovery of gold there in 1872. It is said that the steel structure was meant for Marble Bar Court House but time delays determined that it be erected at Whim Creek.

In late 2013 the hotel was bought by the Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation and Ngarluma Yindjibarndi Foundation, who have restored and re-opened it. as a project to further the health and well-being of the local indigenous population.

Source: Pilbara News 22 June 2016 p.14 including photograph. 

A National Survey of Mechanics’ Institutes and Schools of Arts  
Invitation to participate in a National Survey of Mechanics Institutes and School of Arts Project.

Stage 1. - A survey of Victorian institutes was published in 2015 ‘These Walls Speak Volumes: a History of Institutes in Victoria’ with a brief 300 word entry and image where possible of the total of nearly 1000 institutes.

Since then the authors, Pam Baragwanath and Ken James have compiled the primary references and sources of information used for the book as well as primary sources from the Mechanics’ Institutes of Victoria (MIV) Scanning Project, Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV), the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and the Sands and McDougall Victorian Directories in order to assist future researchers in Victoria as well as other states in Australia. This research guide is to be digitised and blogged by the State Library of Victoria. The title is: Ubiquitous and necessary: Australia’s Mechanics’ Institutes and Schools of Arts: A Research Guide. In the meantime, hardcopies of the guide will shortly to be made available, the authors are happy to provide a draft sample copy for consideration.

The aim of the National Project and Research Guide is:

a. To provide some of the groundwork of establishing accurate historic and contemporary numbers in all Australian states and to facilitate further research, via individual state surveys and field work and status of the mechanics’ institutes and schools of arts buildings. It is timely that a contemporary assessment of their legacy in Australia as influential agents and contributors of social change can be more realistically assessed nationally.

b. To correct the impression that they were both a failure and have disappeared. The institutes and schools and their various alternative names may be more correctly described as a phenomenon. Without head office governance, nearly 1000 institutes were established spontaneously and independently all over Victoria, evolving sustainably and successfully for 176 years. Given early demographic changes and the ephemeral nature of early settlements, the fact that the institutes continued to be established over a period of 130 years in Victoria and possibly elsewhere and that now half of them remain mostly in their original buildings, they have earned a measure of success.

c. To hopefully stimulate future research on at least four integral institute and school elements: the buildings, public libraries, adult education, social capital including role of women and as community halls.

Future stages could possibly contain similar primary source evidence or new evidence of the numbers, location and status of the buildings and extent of the mechanics’ institute and schools of arts movement in Tasmania,  South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Enquiries concerning both 'These Walls Speak Volumes: A History of Mechanics’ Institutes in Victoria' and the research guide can be made to: or Pam Baragwanath
Queensland Living History Federation Conference

On 27 and 28 August, the Queensland Living History Federation is holding a conference themed “Learning from the Past”.  They are looking for speakers – if you are interested, please contact Jill on either or on 0488 657 543 for more information.  The QLHF’s website is

Source: The Royal Historical Society of Queensland
Rum Hospital 200th Anniversary symposium, 30 July, Sydney
A Symposium to mark the 200th anniversary of the Rum Hospital

On the 200th anniversary of the opening of Governor Macquarie’s General ‘Rum’ Hospital for convicts, we invite you to discover the compelling history of the oldest surviving public buildings in central Sydney. From its origins serving convict patients to its many adaptations as the Sydney Dispensary and Infirmary, Sydney Hospital, the Sydney branch of the Royal Mint and NSW Parliament House, the site of the Rum Hospital, its new building and those that remain, are interwoven with some of the most important events in New South Wales history.

A Future for the Past, to be held in what was originally the south wing of the hospital, explores this compelling two century story – from the management of health in the early colony, the later functions of its original buildings and the wider history of Macquarie Street; through to the award-winning rejuvenation of The Mint and the future promise of this significant site.

This full day symposium is brought to life by a compelling line-up of speakers including medical historian Dr Peter Hobbins, City Historian Dr Lisa Murray, Director of Heritage and Collections at Sydney Living Museums, Ian Innes, and award-winning architect Richard Francis-Jones.

When: Saturday 30 July, 9:30am–5.00pm
Where: The Gold Melting Room, The Mint, 10 Macquarie St, Sydney
Price: $125 General | $100 Concession/Member | $100 Select Associations | $100 Registered Architects | $75 full-time Student. Admission price includes: lunch, refreshments and a complimentary copy of the book The Mint Project (RRP $65)

For more information about this symposium, click here.
NSW Transport Heritage Grants Program
NSW Government funded program, administered by the Royal Australian Historical Society (RAHS), and supported by Transport Heritage NSW (THNSW).
Applications are now open for the 2016 Transport Heritage Grants Program, a NSW Government funded program, administered by the Royal Australian Historical Society (RAHS), and supported by Transport Heritage NSW (THNSW).

Click here for details on the program and application forms. Completed application forms and supporting documentation must be received by the RAHS no later than 5pm, 31 August 2016.

Launceston’s Victorian Turkish Baths, Talk, Launceston Historical Society

Susan Aykut: Launceston’s Victorian Turkish Baths

Sunday 21 August 2016 – 2.00pm at the Meeting Room, Queen Victoria Museum at Inveresk

Sponsors: Launceston General Hospital Historical Committee and the Launceston Historical Society. 

Karl Girardet after A. de Beaumont, ‘Bain de Soliman’ (Interior View of Suleymaniye Hamam, Istanbul, b. 1550 -57) mid 19th c. French engraving, collection of Susan Aykut.

You are invited to attend the August talk Launceston Historical Society Inc.

Abstract: Exotic bathing venues are not new to Australia: Turkish baths were part of our colonial history. They were found in capital cities throughout Australia as well as some regional centres and country areas. This paper looks at the three Victorian Turkish baths constructed in Launceston in the nineteenth century. It considers some of the moral, medical and scientific beliefs and ideas behind their creation. While the motivation behind each of these establishments was different, all promoted the health and wellbeing of the community.

Source: Launceston Historical Society Inc., Newsletter No 154, July 2016

History Seminar, Launceston
   HISTORY SEMINAR, Sun 18 Sept, Meeting room, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Inveresk
A seminar will be held jointly with Oral History Tasmania and the Launceston Historical Society on Sunday 18 September 2016, with speakers Brad Williams, Jill Cassidy and Margaretta Pos. 

~ Archaeological dig at Launceston College / Gaol - a sneak preview of the college's plans for embracing their heritage.

~ What is there in oral history which has caused so many people to make such a fuss of its benefits and has led to an explosion of books, radio and television programs, museum exhibitions and more recently CDs and videos using oral history?

~  Margaretta Pos' journey with colonial pioneer Elizabeth Fenton

Cost: $25 Prior registration is essential for catering purposes.

Enquiries: Lana Wall 03 6391 1086; Catherine Pearce 03 6331 6828 after 6pm or
Further information:

The FAHS e-Bulletin, No. 153, 14th July 2016
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