Welcome to the Federation of Australian Historical Societies 

The Federation of Australian Historical Societies is supported through funding from the Australian Government’s Community Heritage and Icons Grants program via the ACT Government

No. 156, 28th September 2016
View this email in your browser
FAHS Update: State Managers Meeting at RAHS
The FAHS History Clinic now open - Tuesday afternoons by appointment
The History of a Quilt and the Power of Objects
Featured Historical Society - Brisbane Waters Historical Society
Brisbane Open House, QLD
Herstory: Exhibition about the Female Factory of Parramatta
2016 RAHS Conference, October 22nd - 23rd, Woolongong
Living Heritage Grants Program, Victoria
History Tour, Lake Claremont, WA
New History Museum Opens in the NT
Postgraduate Research Opportunity, WA
FAHS Update: State managers meeting at RAHS

L to R: Amanda James (Senior Community History Officer, History SA); Helen Brackin (Manager, RHSQ); Bernadette Flynn (Outreach Officer, FAHS); Kate Prinsley (Executive Officer, RHSV)  and Suzanne Holohan (General Manager, RAHS)

Earlier in September, managers and administrators of the state historical bodies affiliated with FAHS met with the FAHS Outreach Officer Bernadette Flynn. The meeting was hosted at the headquarters of the Royal Australian Historical Society in Sydney with representatives from History SA (Amanda James); RHSQ (Helen Brackin); RHSV (Kate Prinsley); RAHS (Suzanne Holohan) and RWAHS (Lynn O'Hara via Skype).

The FAHS would like to thank all the state bodies for supporting this meeting. This is the first time managers have been able to meet face to face and directly engage in a forum of open exchange and communication. Each of the representatives outlined challenges and opportunities in their areas and presented methods for supporting the important work of historical societies.

The FAHS Outreach Officer described current FAHS projects in collection management software research, the survey of historical societies and the development of a succession planning guide. Bernadette also provided updates on the GLAM digital access project and the curriculum delivery guide.  The managers expressed an interest in obtaining support from the FAHS to develop governance packs, help with advocacy, and the need for dispute resolution mechanisms.              

In the afternoon roundtable a lively discussion on forward planning acknowledged the changing nature of historical societies and the challenge of funding cutbacks, The group shared examples of innovation, successful models for community engagement and creative ways of generating revenue.  Overall, the future for local history was seen in a positive light due to the impact of digital engagement and a growing interest and participation from the general public.  

A range of outcomes for future collaboration emerged from the shared information sessions. Over the next few weeks the Outreach Officer will be working with Suzanne Holohan on financial planning documents and a budget template with other associations to follow.  

Source: FAHS Outreach Officer, Dr Bernadette Flynn
The FAHS History Clinic now open - Tuesday afternoons by appointment
FAHS Outreach Office History Clinic is Open
The Dr is in the house Tuesdays 1pm-4pm by appointment
Want help setting up email campaigns?

Need advice on scanning, image resolution, data management ?

Confused about how to develop an interpretation plan ?

Trying to sort out the web; Facebook; Flickr; Instagram ?
Dr Bernadette Flynn the FAHS Outreach Office is available at History Clinic to assist with practical questions about running your historical society. Dr Flynn has professional expertise in image management, video, multimedia and has a particular interest in activating collections and historical interpretation. 

Lodge a request via email and book in for a session
Sessions will be conducted online.

Further Information or phone 02 4377-1682

The History of a Quilt and the Power of Objects

Objects have power. This stems from their intrinsic interest, their beauty or both. They also become potent when infused with memory. I have a 40cm bronze statue of Diana the Huntress, which belonged to my maternal grandmother. Whenever I look upon it I think of her; and also of my younger self. As a young boy visiting my grandmother’s house I spent much time sauntering from room to room looking at her objects: beautifully ornate plates and cup and saucer tea sets, a Farmer John toby jug, a tilting silver teapot and a sugar bowl among many fascinating objects. The latter housed white sugar cubes behind a hinged door, complete with tongs suspended alongside, which I used to sample the sugary delight. I often gazed upon Diana’s beauty as a boy, and marvelled at her raised spear, the poise and confidence of her stance, her flowing dress exposing one breast, and the hunting dog by her side. Some of these objects, including Diana, descended to me. While some are not now my taste, I would not part with them. Objects then tell stories, many of them about families. These family objects and their related stories, buttress the memories of the older generation, inform the young, and bind all kin in webs of memory. Below is the story of a new-found family artefact, a quilt, which has struck an immediate resonance in one extended family across the world.

In 1940-1941 three brothers went to war, the sons of James and Janet Donnan of Ashgrove, Brisbane. Lieutenant Robert Donnan sailed with the 2/15 Battalion to the Middle East where he fought and was captured in Libya in April 1941. He was imprisoned as a POW at Sulmona, Italy, where he and his fellow POWs suffered severe winter conditions. While being transported to Germany in September 1943, he and over thirty others dropped onto the tracks through the carriage floor of a moving train, evading machine gunners posted on the train’s roof. Robert Donnan and others made their way over the Alps to Switzerland where they remained until war’s end.

The second son, James Donnan, became a flying officer and was posted to Townsville for further training with the 22nd Squadron in May 1942. There he met and later married a local girl, Dorothy Masters, in May 1943. A fortnight later he was posted on active service to Dutch New Guinea with the 86th Squadron. In November 1943 he went missing in a Kittyhawk, A29-371, during a storm while on a reconnaissance flight. He was never found.

The third son, David Donnan, joined the 2/2nd machine gun Battalion and after training was posted to Merauke in New Guinea.  While there, he was wounded, losing an eye from a friendly-fire shrapnel wound, just one month after his brother James went missing just a few miles away. David Donnan recuperated from his injuries in Townsville, staying with his sister-in-law Dorothy Donnan (nee Masters) and her family.

By December 1943, the Donnans now of Milton Brisbane had one son missing; one son a former POW and recently an escapee living somewhere in Switzerland; and one son seriously wounded and without an eye. This was a familial impact more reminiscent of the First World War than the Second.

After hoping against hope for almost three years for the return of Flying Officer James Donnan, Dorothy his wife, remarried an American Paul Jacobsen in 1946. They went to live in America, losing contact with the Donnan family by 1954.

In 2013 the third son, David Donnan, then 94, discovered in a cupboard his lost wartime letters home to his future wife Esme Evans. After reading them, including descriptions of staying with Dorothy’s family during his convalescence, David wondered about his lost brother James and his wife Dorothy.  He sought to contact Dorothy in America, and after impressive detective work for one 94, turned up Dorothy’s Australian relatives and was given Dorothy’s address in Racine, Wisconsin USA. He made contact only to find Dorothy had advanced dementia. However, contact was made with Dorothy’s daughter, Sandra and a wonderful correspondence and friendship began. Letters and phone calls full of questions followed, and family photographs flowed across the ether, as David Donnan and Sandra Kosich (nee Jacobsen) sought to tease out the story of two families joined by war - one in Australia and one in America, but separated since 1954.

On 24 June 2016, an overseas parcel arrived at Camp Hill in Brisbane on the eve of David Donnan’s 97 birthday. He opened it to find a quilt made by Sandra Kosich. As he examined it, he quietly wept. I know this, as I looked on, for David Donnan is my father-in-law.

Photo: David Donnan in front of the quilt which tells the story of the three Donnan boys with the war service medals.

David Donnan wept for Sandra’s kindness, and because the quilt was so beautiful, as you can see. But he wept most of all, as it contained screen-printed photographs of the two families separated by the Pacific Ocean, and of the three Donnan boys; maps of the locations of the two families now; and the flags of their English, Scottish and Danish heritages. Most astonishing was that the centre of the quilt was lined by the war service medals of Flying Officer James Donnan which had been given to his wife on his death and had found their way to America. They were returned via the quilt, and were back home with James Donnan’s only surviving blood relative, his brother David! It was these Pacific War service medals that moved David Donnan most of all, as these would have been pinned to his brother’s breast, if he had survived. All the emotion about his older brother rose to the surface; a brother whom he had idolised. Present also was the guilt of being the one to survive.

The luminous quilt and its emotional reception by David and his large Australian family, is a story of loss and recovery, of the power of memory to bind two families, and ultimately, of the powerful emotions engendered by the costs of war. But it is also a story of hope, as the optimism of memory and the radiant beauty of a quilt, have outweighed memories of despair.
Richard Broome
Emeritus Professor in History, La Trobe University, FAHA, FRHSV
Vice President of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria

Source: This is based on Richard Broome's welcome address as Patron to the History Teachers’ Association of Victoria, Annual Conference, Melbourne, 21 July 2016

Featured Historical Society - Brisbane Water Historical Society

Founded in 1950, Brisbane Water Historical Society owns and maintains Henry Kendall Cottage and the Historical Museum complex.

The Henry Kendall Cottage is named after the poet who stayed at Cooranbean from 1873-75. It was in the cottage that Henry Kendall wrote the poems 'Name upon a Stone' and 'The Last of his Tribe'.

The Brisbane Water Historical Society was set up in 1950 and broadly covers the former Gosford LGA area. The society aims to research and foster an interest in the history of the Brisbane Waters area and Henry Kendall.

The society today has an active membership of around 40 to 50 and is active in securing grants and working with the local council. It holds opens days, public programs for schools and hosts special events and exhibition for heritage week (hosted by the National Trust) and history week (hosted by the History Council of NSW). A monthly newsletter the Cooranbean Courier is distributed to all members. 

The outreach officer, Bernadette Flynn was delighted to meet Shirley Rider, the Vice President and Edith Campbell, the acting secretary of the BWHH. At the time of the visit, an exhibition on the history of the CWA of NSW (Northumberland Group) was on display for history week (and runs until 30th November).

Shirley and Edith outlined the history of the society and museum sites, which includes the Henry Kendall cottage; historical museum; slab shed; machinery shed; wash-house, and a two seater dunny. The cottage, which now exhibits objects that reflect the lifestyles and occupations of the residents was built by convict labour from locally quarried sandstone blocks in 1836-40 and originally had a roof made of timber shingles. For some time it ran as the Red Cow Inn and is where Henry Kendall, author and bush poet stayed from 1873-75. During his stay Henry Kendall wrote 'Names upon a Stone' and 'The Last of his Tribe' and the small room where he slept displays his sofa bed, which still bears his initials.



Photo: Edith Campbell, acting secretary and Shirley Rider, Vice President in Slab Shed, Citrus Industry Exhibition, Brisbane Water Historical Museum.

The society has a curator who manages the permanent exhibition and also organises changing exhibitions from the collection and in collaboration with other history and community groups. Significant items in the collection include an early printing press of Tom Lyons, an early member of BWHS and the James Dunlop Collection. As Shirley recounts 'We consider ourselves very fortunate to have so many of the  tools and a lathe made by early astronomer, James Dunlop.  He was an exceptionally clever man and received a Gold Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society in 1828 for his catalogues of stars and nebulae.  Governor Brisbane set up the Parramatta Observatory and James Dunlop was the Superintendent from 1831 to 1847'. During History Week 2016, the CWA Northumberland installed a temporary exhibition 'More than Tea and Scones' which runs until November 30th.

The society owns the cottage and saved it by community action including support from Wyong resident Spike Milligan. The historical historical society was informed by the present owner of the cottage, Van Adcock, son of Garnet Adcock, that he thought the cottage may have to be demolished.  It was saved by much fund raising and public donations. The cottage was purchased in 1960 and the society set about restoring it. Since then they have developed an impressive range of historical activities, research and museum experiences. The range of activities undertaken by the society and the wonderful contribution to the community has been recognised through the Central Coast awards for Excellence in Tourism (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999)  and the Heritage award for Interpretation Projects and Heritage Events (2015).

The Henry Kendall Cottage and the Historical Museum is open 10am to 3pm on Wed/Sat/Sun and all public holidays (except Christmas eve; Christmas day, and Good Friday). The Grounds are open for inspection from 10.00 am  to 4.00 pm daily. Information: 
email:; ph: 02-4325-2270

Source: Brisbane Water Historical Society website and interview with Shirley Rider and Edith Campbell
Brisbane Open House, QLD
BRISBANE OPEN HOUSE 8th-9th October 

Brisbane Open House is a free public festival that celebrates Brisbane’s architecture and offers behind-the-scenes access to 100 buildings across the city.
Image: The Spring Hill Service Reservoirs - one of the nineteenth century structures that played a vital role in providing fresh water to Brisbane from 1871 to 1962.

The Australian Institute of Architects & EmAGN QLD (Emerging Architects & Graduates Network) are hosting two SPEAKER SERIES events on 'Valuing Heritage' (a talk and a workshop).

Talk: As our city continues to expand and develop how do we protect our existing heritage? Come along to and hear from a panel discussing issues around conservation, why we need to value our heritage places in Brisbane, and the potential rewards. FREE | Bookings required:

Workshop: Join us as we gather together influential architects, landscape architects, designers, planners and professionals in conversation to explore the important ideas that shape our city. Through a series of talks, hosted in the lead up to the Brisbane Open House weekend, representatives from these key professions will explore with audiences the ideas and opportunities that influence the shape and experience of our city and its buildings. FREE | Bookings required:

Further Information:
Herstory: Exhibition about the Female Factory of Parramatta 
HERSTORY - The stories of the women who lived in the Female Factory of Parramatta 1788-1840

HERSTORY - The exhibition in the Lucas Gallery of Hambledon Cottage tells the story of the Factory Women of Parramatta - their courage in the face of hardship and loss as well as their enduring spirit and legacy for not only their thousands of descendants but for all Australians.

The Parramatta Female Factory site with its historic buildings is one of the hidden gems of Colonial Parramatta. It was commissioned by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1818 and designed by convict architect Francis Greenway.

The exhibition displays very rare artifacts supplied by relatives of the women and pictures of the surviving sandstone buildings. The Female Factory was a refuge for the women, a factory for the spinning and production of cloth, a lying-in hospital, a gaol and a marriage bureau.

HERSTORY is an opportunity for descendants, family and history buffs to discover more about the legacy of the Founding Mothers of this nation! The significant site of the Female Factory with its layers of history is a testament to at least 5000 of the estimated 24,000 women who were transported to the colony of New South Wales from 1788 to 1840. This exhibition has been enhanced and proven so popular that it has been extended to 31 March 2017.

Location: Lucas Gallery within Hambledon Cottage House Museum, Gregory Place, Parramatta

Open: Sunday, Thursday- Saturday 11:00 to 16:00 (Open most public holidays, except Christmas Day and Boxing Day, groups of 15 or more on other days and times by appointment)

Source: Museums and Galleries NSW

2016 RAHS Conference, October 22nd - 23rd, Wollongong
The theme of the 2016 RAHS Conference is Times Are A-Changing – History and Innovation. 

Image: Sublime Point Lookout, 
Woolongong, c.1925, RAHS Collection

The digital revolution is impacting how we research and produce history. There is also an increasing appetite for local and community history that connects people to their identity and place. History plays a critical role in advocacy campaigns to ensure that these places remain part of our cultural landscape in this era of widespread urban development. How historical societies engage with these developments is critical to ensure their continued relevancy in 21st century Australia.

The RAHS invites you to join the 2016 conference in Wollongong to explore these topics, learn skills that will support your history projects and enjoy opportunities to network and share histories with
RAHS members and friends.

The Conference will be held at Centro CBD, Wollongong (28 Stewart St. Wollongong NSW) on Saturday 22nd – Sunday 23rd October 2016.

Click here to explore the 2016 RAHS Conference website, which includes an up-to-date program, speaker and tour information, booking details and much more.

Source: RAHS Newsletter

Living Heritage Grants Program, Victoria

Living Heritage Grants Program

A new heritage grants program launched by Victorian Minister for Planning, The Hon  Richard Wynne MP will support the repair and conservation of ‘at risk’ State heritage listed heritage places and objects included in the Victorian Heritage Register (VHR), under the Heritage Act 1995. 

The Living Heritage Grants program will provide opportunities for community and not-for-profit organisations, committees of management and local councils to obtain funding for heritage works. Matched funding will also be available for places of worship and, in some instances, heritage places and objects in private ownership where a broader community benefit can be demonstrated. 

A $7 million program over four years, the Living Heritage Grants Program is part of a $30 million funding boost by the Andrews Labor Government to safeguard and protect Victoria’s key heritage places.  There will be subsequent programs in 2017, 2018 and 2019. 

Applications will close on 7 November and application details and guidelines are available online at:

The grants will help secure the future of many heritage places which contribute to the liveability and cultural diversity of Victoria, providing a wide range of economic, social and community benefits. 

Heritage is a major attraction for all Victoria, with the latest data showing that the State’s heritage buildings, sites and monuments were visited by more than 1.9 million people last year, including around one million international visitors. 

The Living Heritage Grants program is being run through Heritage Victoria located within the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).

For further information, please email or call (03) 9938 6851. 

History Tour, Lake Claremont, WA

History Out and About: Walking Tour of Lake Claremont             

Save the date: 13th October, 9-11am Friends of Lake Claremont (FOLC)
Lake Claremont has amazingly diverse flora and a large variety of birdlife as well as an interesting and varied history. Prior to European settlement the lake was a large wetland area abundant in plant and animal life. It formed a part of the hunting and food gathering territory of the Mooro people. Lake Claremont is recognised as a site of significant Aboriginal heritage. First European settlement of the area was around 1831. In 1850 military pensioners arriving from England were granted areas of land around Butler’s Swamp. Then there were orchards and market gardens but rising waters destroyed many of the market gardens and profoundly changed the character of the vegetation. And in the 1960s the area was used as a rubbish tip. Subsequently the council constructed a golf course on the site and in 2009 the golf course was closed after a referendum was put to residents concerning the future of the lake

We will see the more recent history of the lake, one of the largest and most successful ongoing restoration projects in Perth led by the FOLC.
DATE: Thursday 13 October 2016
RENDEZVOUS: Meet at the Lake Claremont Golf Club car park, Lapsley Road, Claremont at 9 a.m for a leisurely walk and talk of 2 – 2.5 hours around the Lake, and self funded coffee after for those who wish at
the local Lake Espresso café on Lapsley Road.
WALK LEADER: Greg Simpson and/or Heidi Hardisty
TOUR COST: $25 members/ $31.50 non members (includes donation to FOLC)
Numbers are limited to 25. Bookings essential

BOOKINGS: or 08-9386-3841

Source: RWAHS Circular

New History Museum Opens in the NT


The National Trust Northern Territory has been granted a Crown Lease over the heritage listed building located on the former Stella Maris Hostel site at 1 McMinn Street, Darwin. The date of construction of the building is not known but was most likely in the 1920s or 1930s. It was built to accommodate staff of the North Australia Railway (NAR) and was known as Road Masters House. The road master was the officer responsible for track maintenance. It was occupied by NAR staff until damaged by Cyclone Tracy in 1974. 

The lease provides for the building to be used as a museum. It is proposed that the exhibits will cover three themes: the History of the Building;  the North Australia Railway and the History of Darwin.

The inaugural exhibition is titled Mapping Darwin’s History. The theme is land development. It comprises 23 maps and 37 photos relating to the maps. They cover the period from European discovery and settlement of Port Darwin through to the present day. The map and photo exhibits are complemented with a collection of survey, drafting and mapping equipment that have been used over time to survey, map and construct Darwin. The exhibits have been sourced largely from the Department of Lands, Planning and the Environment; the Northern Territory Library; the National Library of Australia and private collections. 

A feature of the display is the collection of instruments used by pioneering surveyor Gilbert McMinn that were donated some years ago by the descendants of McMinn to the NT Surveyor-General. McMinn was a senior surveyor with the 1869 Goyder Survey Expedition and was involved with the survey and construction of the Overland Telegraph Line. He later carried out the first investigation of a route for the Palmerston to Pine Creek Railway. 

 It is intended that future exhibitions will cover the history of the house and its association with the North Australia Railway. This will include material on Darwin’s social history to complement the land development theme.

The museum is open to the public on every day except Monday and Saturday from 10.00am to 1.00pm until further notice. Volunteer museum attendants are being sought from persons able to spend 3 hours a week at the museum on a weekly or fortnightly roster. Interested persons can contact Trevor Menzies on 0418 892 897 or email: for details. Offers to assist will be most welcome.

For further Information:

Source: HSNT Newsletter
Postgraduate Research Opportunity, WA

Collecting the West: An Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project

Project leaders: Alistair Paterson (UWA) & Andrea Witcomb (Deakin University)

Collecting the West: How collections create Western Australia, post-graduate research opportunities

University of Western Australia and Deakin University in partnership with Western Australian Museum, State Library of Western Australia, Art Gallery of Western Australia, and British Museum.

Through a unique collaboration between Western Australia’s public collecting institutions, the British Museum and an interdisciplinary team of researchers, the Collecting the West project aims to understand how practices of collecting and display created knowledge about Western Australia that shaped its social relations, mediated its relationship to the environment and produced its identity in Australia and overseas from pre-colonial times to the present. This understanding will be used to produce a new vision of how contemporary collecting and display practices could enable a new vision of Western Australia’s place in the world to emerge, one that is better suited to the demands of the future.

We are seeking postgraduate students to join our great team of university and institutional researchers at UWA and Deakin University.

For more information about this research opportunity, download the Collecting the West PhD projects information package. Note that scholarships are also available, with an application deadline of 31 October 2016.

Source: ICOMOS E-Mail News No 747

The FAHS e-Bulletin, No. 156,
28th Sept 2016
Copyright © 2016 Federation of Australian Historical Societies, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp