Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Picture of the Month - December 2012

Bushwalkers with packs, c. 1920

This image is from a large collection of photographs, photograph albums, glass slides and maps donated by the Melbourne Walking Club to the Royal Historical Society of Victoria (RHSV). The Melbourne Walking Club was founded in 1894 ... Read more.

Seasons Greetings...we will reopen 14 January.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Federation of Australian Historical Societies - e-Bulletin

The most recent issue of the Federation of Australian Historical Societies eBulletin is now available at their website.  See what history and heritage issues are of interest around Australia.

Don't forget to check out the FAHS free online publications (look under "About Us" on the menu).

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Entries in the 2012 Victorian Community History Awards

If you are seeking inspiration for a community history publication, have a look at the complete List of Entries in the 2012 Victorian Community History Awards to see the innnovative ways in which history is being told in Victoria today.  The list contains an image of the front cover and a description of the contents.   Entrants were invited to submit their books for sale to the RHSV bookshop, so the RHSV does have quite a few of them available for puchase in our bookstore.

Pop in and have a look at the delightful current exhibition  Growing History’s Grass Roots – 1960s in Victoria  featuring the history of Brighton, the subject of Weston Bate's new way of telling local history A History of Brighton.  The exhibition will be open until 15 December 2012.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Australia’s Gifted Lost Generation of World War I podcast available

The recording of yesterdays interesting RHSV lecture "Australia’s Gifted Lost Generation of World War I" by Dr Ross McMullin is on up on our Podcasts page.

Check out the other podcasts while you are there.
Ross' book is available in the RHSV online bookshop.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Hats off to them.......!!!

The Melbourne Cup Season is now the one time of the year when many Melbourne women are busy choosing between feathers or flowers, ribbons or veiling, a hat of divine elegance or one full of frivolity. For many fashionistas it’s just a fun day, so it’s hard to imagine a time when not wearing a hat to the races was considered a serious breach of decorum, in fact a front-page headline scandal. But scandal was what fresh-faced British supermodel Jean Shrimpton caused in 1965 by attending Derby Day hatless, gloveless, bare-legged and in a simple above-the-knee frock, and thereby bringing to an end the domination of the dowager.

Until the 1960s every man and woman wore a hat every day, not just for special occasions. We wore hats to church on Sundays, when going into “town”, out in the sun, working in the garden. There was a hat for every event. School hats with their badge on the hat band were the identifying feature of the school. 
From the RHSV’s collection of historic newspapers (The Australasian - November 6 1937) come these two photographs of spectators at the Melbourne Cup. The head gear is remarkable.

Hats were full of symbolic meaning. Men showed respect by raising their hat, or in “Sentimental Bloke talk” by dipping their lid. At funerals men stood at the graveside holding their hats in their hands. One went cap-in-hand to beg for a job or to make an apology. One threw one’s cap into the ring to take a chance, or into the air in happiness, as in the iconic photograph of people celebrating the end of World War II. The Australian Army hat was part of the national image during WWII and was celebrated in song. Some Melbournians will still remember: “Just a brown slouch hat with the side turned up, and it means the world to me!”

Melbourne city was full of hat shops and milliners. The RHSV copy of the Foy and Gibson Catalogue of 1923 shows pages of hats to chose from. During the Depression magazine articles told women how to refurbish an old hat. There were specialist men's hat shops, one of which, City Hatters, remains, just outside the entrance to Flinders Street Station. It sold top-hats, boaters, trilbies and every day hats. Hats told your age, your social class, defined your taste or lack of it, and indicated whether you were up to the mark or down at heel. Doreen, beloved of the “sentimental bloke” wore a hat , but the bloke himself wore a cap.

In 1901 The Argus newspaper covered the opening of Australia’s first Federal Parliament (at Melbourne’s Exhibition Buildings). Every woman who attended wore a hat, and The Argus described every single one: Lady Madden wore a small, black-jetted toque; Lady Lygon wore a large hat with feathers; and the Countess of Hopetoun, a black stitched glace hat, with a large paste buckle, long black feather and tulle rosettes. Now those were the days!

If you are wishing to work out the date of an old family photograph, the hats might give the clue. Lenore Frost's book Dating Family Photos (also in the RHSV library) gives examples of how much a hat can tell.

Oaks Day is the one day when we can still hat up. What a lot we have lost by going hatless and fancy free.

Talk: Australia’s Gifted Lost Generation of World War I

Australia’s Gifted Lost Generation of World War I - Dr Ross McMullin

For Australia, a new nation with a relatively small population, the death of 60,000 soldiers during the Great War was calamitous. As a result, Australians evaluating the consequences of the conflict have tended to focus, not surprisingly, on the collective impact of the numbing number of losses.

Talk tomorrow 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
@ the Royal Historical Society of Victoria
More information and booking :

Ross' book is available in the RHSV online bookshop.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

A Quiz for the Cup

The first Tuesday of November is once again almost upon us, when the entire nation will stop to watch the spectacle of the Melbourne Cup, as we have been doing for 151 years.

Race goers on the cover of The Australasian November 6 1937
Since 1861 Australia’s richest horse race has attracted huge crowds to the Flemington Racecourse but nowadays, instead of going out to Flemington, many of us celebrate the Cup Day public holiday in other ways, often with picnics and barbeques.

Most work places hold a Cup Day sweep and fund-raisers and often use the day for a favourite charity with mock horse races, fancy dress and mad hat competitions or a trivia quiz.

The Folio Section of the RHSV contains just the book for anyone who wants to organise a Cup Trivia Competition: The Melbourne Cup (circa 1923) by H. Mitchell. With its photos of jockeys, owners, trainers, great horses and race finishes as well as detailed descriptions of the previous Melbourne Cups. 
Poster of the 1937 Winner from The Australasian November 6 1937

The book contains many photographs of the Flemington, Williamstown and Caulfield race courses, and of historic grand stands. It covers many aspects of racing history: lists of Derby winners, horse pedigrees and prize money. Cup winners are listed from “Archer” in 1861 to Bitalli in 1923.

There is also a photo of the finishing post for 1923: the rose bushes are there, lots of men in hats, and women wearing sensible clothing for a damp spring day. Not a fascinator in sight! Accompanying the photo on page 128 is a great description of the race:

“a swelling roar from many thousands of voices, the thud of a hundred twinkling hoofs on the fresh green turf, a swiftly moving blur of rainbow colour speeding towards the one goal, a brown horse with a blue and white midget perched over his neck galloping grimly to shake off the rest of the pack, exultant cries of “Bitalli!” “Bitalli!” – and another name has been added to the glorious scroll of Melbourne Cup winners”.
The Melbourne Cup! Now who won in 1974?

Friday, 2 November 2012

November History News

History News for November is now out.

November’s Top Story: Celebrating 50 Years of Local History in Victoria Conference

Find out more on the Conference webpage or download the Conference brochure (PDF, 485K).

Also: History Week round up | Upcoming Exhibition: Growing History’s Grass Roots | Professor Weston Arthur Bate: Cause Celebre | Victorian Community History Awards | Book reviews | Around the Societies.

Download or read online:   RHSV History News November- December (778 KB, PDF).

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Celebrating Fifty Years of Local History in Victoria

Fifty years ago an extraordinary book A History of Brighton was published. It created ripples never felt before and possibly never to be repeated in Australian history circles. The author was Weston Bate, a veteran crewman in RAAF and a greatly loved master at Brighton and Melbourne Grammar schools. The history was begun in 1949, by agreement with the Brighton City Council and as a thesis for a Master of Arts at the University of Melbourne.

The initial payment was for five shillings per hour and the total expenditure was not to exceed £50. Weston’s indenture, signed with Brighton City Council in 1950, included not only research but agreeing to work as an archivist, compiling a bibliography and indexing all of the historical material in the possession of the council! This source material was so plentiful that when the thesis was completed in 1952 it covered only the first twenty years of Brighton’s history. The first edition of the book covered a period five times as long. The depth and breadth of the research was breath taking.

The book was twelve years in the making. Weston explained that a schoolmaster had little time for research and writing and he regarded his intermittent efforts during those years as a reproof to those who would belittle both the interest and significance of local history.

- From an article by Jane Mayo Carolan, published in the Brighton Historical Society newsletter.

Dinner, Exhibition and Conference
A dinner, exhibition and conference to celebrate the special contribution made by Weston Bate to the research and writing of local history in Victoria and Australia will be held by the Royal Historical Society of Victoria. Saturday 17 November – 10.00-4.00 – Conference at RHSV, followed by Dinner at the Savage Club in the evening.

The full details and cost of the program can be seen at the Conference webpage or download the Conference brochure (PDF, 485K).

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Still losing ourselves in history

The RHSV has extended the exhibition of books entered in the Victorian Community History Awards until the end of next week, so if you'd like to browse through the many entries received, there is still time.   Quite a few of these books are now available for sale in our bookshop, such as the CD All Aboard, and the book Ellen, A Woman of Spirit which tells the story of Ellen Kelly, mother of Ned.

Our library is open from 10 am to 4 pm, at 239 A'Beckett St, Melbourne (near Flagstaff Station).

Thursday, 25 October 2012

History Week in Moe!

The Narracan Mechanics Institute library, courtesy of Sue McCracken.
They celebrated History Week at Moe with the opening of a new exhibit at Old Gippstown on Tuesday - the refurbished Narracan Mechanics Institute.  It is a wonder to behold, and bound to be a favourite with booklovers everywhere.

The Narracan Library is open every day by appointment at Old Gippstown - see the History Week Calendar for details.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Some more winners at the Awards

The 2012 Victorian Community History Awards were held this afternoon at the Great Hall, National Gallery of Victoria.   While waiting for the official photos, here are some unofficial photos taken of some of the happy cateogory winners:'

Lyn Skillern with past RHSV President Professor Weston Bate.
Lyn Skillern recieved an award on behalf of herself and others of the Leongatha Secondary College in the category:  Collaborative Community History Award.

The result of their collaboration was the book, From Inkwell to Internet:  a century of State Secondary Education in Leongatha.

Gib Wettenhall with his winning publication.
In the category   Historical Interpretation Award, Gib Wettenhall was the winner with his Goldfields Track Walking Guide. 

Gib took out the Overall Award in 2011 with The People of Budj Bim.

Ken McKimmie
Another winner, this time in the category Local History - Small Publication Award.  Ken's book is Chewton Then and Now: A series of studies investigating change over time in the former Mount Alexander goldfield town of Forest Creek later known as Chewton.

Congratulations to these and all the other winners and recipients of commendations.   We also congratulate all the entrants in the Victorian Community History Awards.  To devise, carry out and complete an historical project to the point where it can be entered in the awards is an achievement in its own right, and you are all winners.

Don't forget that all the entries in the 2012 Victorian Community History Awards are currently being exhibited at the RHSV headquarters, 239 A'Beckett St, Melbourne from now until Friday 26 October, between 10 am and 4 pm.

Next week, the winners and commended entries will be exhibited in the foyer of the RHSV headquarters. 

Lose yourself in history!

Everyone's a winner at the Victorian Community History Awards

The major prize-winner in the Victorian Community History Awards this year was Maree Coote for her beautiful book "The Art of Being Melbourne."

The book is richly illustrated with artists' views of Melbourne from early colonial artists to modern and comtemporary art, thoughtfully analysed by the author.  For the judges' full comments on this work, and on the work of the other category winners and commendations see the RHSV for downloadable .pdf brochure.

Along with the winners' booklet, there is a further .pdf listing of every entry in the Victorian Community History Awards 2012.

You can also download the 2011 winners and commendations brochure.

 Victorian Community History Awards 2012

Sunday, 21 October 2012

History Week at Heathcote

Museum Curator, Elizabeth Murfitt, greets visitors at the door of the 1888 Police Commissioners' Residence.

Members of the Heathcote McIvor Historical Society Inc are opening buildings in the Camp Hill Historic Precinct, 19 Herriot Street, Heathcote every day from 10 am to 3 pm during History Week 2012.  Items exhibited are introduced by the curator in a very engaging way.

A particular item of note in the Lockup is a WW1 Honour Roll from a local, but now closed school.  The Roll was written and decorated by a calligrapher, but had been badly insect damaged.  A grant from the Department of Veterans' Affairs allowed this item to be beautifully re-created, as the original was too far gone to be restored.  Both are on display in one of the cells, along with other local Honour Rolls.

The Heathcote Lockup, built in 1861.

Another cell contains the business ledgers and invoices of a local busines, with an intriguing tale of how they came to be discovered and donated to the Heathcote McIvor Historical Society.

The Lockup itself is of considerable interest for the very fine stonemasonry.

A view of the hall of the lockup, Commissioner's office at the end.

The Society also has a growing collection of material for local history research. 

Friday, 19 October 2012

History Week Flickr

Heritage Farm Day, 14 October, Pine Lodge, Stratford. Photo courtesy of Martin Gallagher, Stratford HS

Stratford Historical Society got in a week early for History Week, and held a highly successful Farm Heritage Day yesterday. They invite groups around Victoria to load up some History Week activity photos to this Flickr group:

If you haven't already planned your History Week activities, visit the History Week calendar.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Lose yourself in history

Excitement is building as we draw closer to the announcement on Tuesday 23 October of the winners and commendations for the 2012 Victorian Community History Awards. 

This year has seen the highest number of entries since the Awards were inaugurated in 1998.  For the first time, to celebrate History Week at the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, the entries in the Victorian Community History Awards will be available for visitors to peruse at leisure during History Week at RHSV headquarters.  

Come and see the fantastic work being done by historical societies right round the state of Victoria.  Some of the books are already for sale in the RHSV bookshop, so if you like what you see, you may be able to buy a copy on the spot and take it home with you.  Examples of the books we have for sale are included in this post.

Tea and coffee will be available.

At 239 A’Beckett St, Melbourne,
10 am till 4 pm,  
Friday 19 October till Friday 26 October.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Tales from Abroad

RHSV Lecture: Tales from Abroad – Studying Local History in the UK - Joan Hunt.

Tuesday 18th September

Time: Refreshments 5.15pm, Lecture 5.45pm.
Cost: Members Free. Non-Members $10.00.
Bookings: Can be made at www.trybooking.com/BQUN, or by phone on 9326 9288.

After retirement in early 2011, Joan and Gary Hunt treated themselves to 13 months living in Warwickshire, where Joan applied to undertake an Advanced Diploma in Local History through Oxford University.

This talk will present and discuss the two modules of the one-year study, accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation showing the various Oxfordshire villages which were case studies used to interpret the medieval and early modern sources under investigation.

More Information: http://www.historyvictoria.org.au/whats-on/lectures

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Something for everyone at the book sale!

We've got local history, Australian history, world history, biography, poetry, science, education, psychology, philosophy, cooking, craft, natural science, new age, geography, bibliography, novels, plays, tapes, CDs, childrens' books - everything you can think of.

We have lots of books at bargain prices, so come along and re-stock your bookshelves on Sunday 9 September 10 am to 4 pm, 239 A'Beckett St, Melbourne.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Discover the wonder of Victoria's past

This year's History Week, from 21 to 28 October, will be bigger and better than ever.  Why not submit your event to the official History Week Calendar?    There are many events already listed, there from the stately to the quirky.  Discover the wonder of Victoria's past by participating in one event or many.  New events are going up all the time, so be sure to visit the Calendar more than once to plan your exciting history week.

The September History News is out now

The latest issue of History News is now available on our website.  It is jam packed with news and events including History Week; RHSV second hand book sale; RHSV Foundation wine drive; the addition of McPherson Robertson glass slides to our collection; an RHSV Conference and Dinner; 'The Secret Life of an RHSV Volunteer'; HistoryPin; National Trust App: 'Lost! Melbourne's Lost 100'; Cataloguing and Collection Management; National Trust Heritage Festival 2013;  GVEHO grants; welcome to RHSV Local History Librarian; and last but certainly not least, Around the Societies.

Out and about in Cranbourne, 2012

RHSV Executive Officer Kate Prinsley at the Expo.
The South Eastern Regional and Family History Expo went off with a bang on Saturday with plenty of keen local and family historians in attendance.  The RHSV had a table, with Kate Prinsley assisted by Jenny Coates, Lenore Frost, and Lorraine James.  We promoted our collection, the coming book fair and of course History Week. We hope you've got the last two in your diary.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Professor Hirst and The Argus Index Project, 2012

From the left, Professors John Hirst, Bill Russell and John Poynter
The audience for Professor John Hirst's lecture on The Argus Index Project was enhanced by the presence of several volunteers who work on the index, including one of our own RHSV volunteers.  The inclusion of The Argus in Trove has led to the online index being no longer supported by the National Library of Australia, which is a great shame as doing word searches in a text base of such low machine readability, is not nearly as effective as using such a detailed and carefully executed index as The Argus Index.

The NLA website, in reporting about the Argus Index says:

"The Argus Index website - a high quality index covering 1870-1879 - was retired on the 28th June 2012. The National Library of Australia, working with La Trobe University, redeveloped the Index content into a set of searchable and browsable ePublications, covering the 1870s and 1880s. These ePublications should be available in the near future.  The entire Argus newspaper - running from 1848-1956 - has been digitised and is available via Trove. The new Argus Index ePublications provide links from Index entries to the relevant digitised Argus pages in Trove. (http://www.nla.gov.au/argus-index)

Professor Hirst said that they are working on an electronic version of the 1860s Index as well, and it is hoped that the indexes will become available on the Latrobe University website.

Professor John Poynter, in thanking our guest speaker, remarked that the Argus Index is a work of great scholarship in itself.

A podcast of the lecture is available from the RHSV website: http://www.historyvictoria.org.au/downloads/podcasts

Wednesday, 29 August 2012


In celebration of Melbourne Day, Melburnians are invited to find out how they can unlock long lost stories of the city, as the Royal Historical Society of Victoria presents “History from The Argus”. To be held on Thursday 30 August at 5.45pm, historian Professor John Hirst will provide an insight into the Argus Index Project and some of his observation after reading decades of newspapers.

“The Argus was Melbourne’s morning daily newspaper, established in 1846 and widely known as a conservative read for most of its history,” said Professor Hirst, Editor in Chief of the Argus Index Project.

Professor John Hirst is scholar emeritus at La Trobe University and Editor in Chief of the Argus Index Project. He is also the author of many books, most recently Sense and Nonsense in Australian History, Looking for Australia, and The Shortest History of Europe.

 Date: Thursday 30 August
Time: 5.45pm – 6.45pm (tea/coffee from 5.15pm)
Address: Royal Historical Society of Victoria, 239 A’Beckett Street, Melbourne

Cost: $10 non members; free for members of the RHSV

Remember picnics at Cranbourne?

Picnic at Cranbourne, circa 1937.  Source Museum Victoria
Bring a picnic lunch to Cranbourne and visit the South East Victoria Family and Regional History Expo,  to be held at the Cranbourne Public Hall, 166 High St, Cranbourne, on Saturday 1 September, from 10 am till 4 pm.   The RHSV will have a table at the Expo, so come along and say hello.  We will be pleased to see you all.

Monday, 27 August 2012

RHSV welcomes new staff member

Jason Odering has been appointed to the position of RHSV Local History Librarian.  This is a part-time position, so you will find him in the office on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  Jason has a background in academic libraries, and is continuing studies in archival management.  We are excited to have Jason with us, and we know he will make a very useful contribution to our organisation. 

Monday, 6 August 2012

Victorian Community History Awards 2012 close on Friday

Last year's Overall Winner.

Entries for the 2012 Victorian Community History Awards close this Friday, 10 August, at close of business (4 pm), so if you are planning to enter something, now is the time to do it.  Go to the RHSV website to download the entry form.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

VicRoads Centenary 1913-2013

Grand Ridge Road, Gunyah, 1913.  From VicRoads Centenary 1913-2013, posted on Pinterest. 
To celebrate the centenary of VicRoads, beginning with the formation of the country Roads Board in 1913, VicRoads has commenced digitisation of up to 100,000 images taken by their official photographers during road projects.  Some of these images have been posted on Pinterest.

Use the search engine using "VicRoads" to find the photos they have posted.  This is a really wonderful resource, about which we will hear more as their celebrations begin to happen.  This is a very exciting project for local historians.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Andrew Lemon discusses RHSV rare books

"Extraordinary Books From Ordinary People"

A lecture presented by Dr Andrew Lemon, President of the RHSV

Harry (Breaker) Morant's copy of Explorations in Australia by John Forrest FRGS 1875
Since its foundation in 1909, the backbone of the RHSV has been the books and papers donated by members of the Victorian public. ‘Ordinary’ people have donated items that have now become extraordinarily rare. The President of the Society, Dr Andrew Lemon, will present this lecture which highlights the character of the collection and its significance for Victoria’s cultural heritage.

Time 12.00- 2.00pm  Tuesday 24th July
 Free Admission. Booking Essential. Bookings can be made at www.trybooking.com/BNUF 
or on 9326 9288

Thursday, 12 July 2012

New in our bookshop

For Australia, a new nation with a relatively small population, the death of 60,000 soldiers during World War I was catastrophic. It is hardly surprising, then, that Australians evaluating the consequences of the conflict have tended to focus primarily on the numbing number of losses — on the sheer quantity of all those countrymen who did not return.

That there must have been extraordinary individuals among them has been implicitly understood, but these special Australians are unknown today. This book seeks to retrieve their stories and to fill the gaps in our collective memory. Farewell, Dear People contains ten extended biographies of young men who exemplified Australia’s gifted lost generation of World War I.

The book is available in the RHSV bookshop for $45.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Melbourne Open House - Visit us on Sunday 29 July 2012

The RHSV is participating in Melbourne Open House this year, but on Sunday only.  If you are unable to visit us during the week, this is a great opportunity to drop in on the weekend and see our wonderful Art Deco building,  including the  Officer's Mess on the first floor, not usually on view to the public. Also see our fabulous exhibition, "Melbourne Theatres in Transition:  1840′s – 1940′s, an Idiosyncratic View", featuring the theatres  and performers of Melbourne.  We are open from 10 am to 4 pm.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Forums are live at the RHSV website

Part of our book collection at the RHSV
Following the demise of the networking website "My Connected Community" (mc2) last week, we are putting some of the functions on our own website. 

If you visit the RHSV website now you will see the link "Forums" at the top of the front page.  If you click on that link you will be able to register for the Forums.  Once registered for the Forums, you will be able to post messages, or reply to messages, in the Forums. 

It will also give you the ability to post events to our Calendar of Events.  Once you are at the Forums page you will see a link just above the Forums to the RHSV Events calendar.  There is still some tweaking to do with this, but it will be coming to the front page of our website. The Calendar of Events is available to our affiliated societies and other stake-holders in our sector. 

You will also be asked to indicate whether you would like to receive emails from the RHSV - these emails are likely to include information about give-aways, grants, coming events and so on.  As the Calendar of Events won't send a message each time a new event is posted in the same way as the mc2, did we may send a digest of the events for the coming week as a reminder.

When you are registering for the Forums, which are free for anyone to join, you will be taken to our Membership Subscription page.  At the top of that page there is an option to subscribe to the Forums for free, so choose that button.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Farewell to Chris Cooze - for now

President Andrew Lemon with Chris Cooze at her farewell.
Our Volunteer Co-ordinator Chris Cooze retired from her employment with the RHSV last week, and was farewelled with the best wishes of volunteers, staff and members of RHSV Council at a morning tea in her honour.    Chris's professional expertise and manner was very much appreciated by the RHSV, and as it turns out, Chris likes us too, and plans to return as a Volunteer in the warmer weather!

2012 Annual Book Sale

Books are now being received for our annual book sale which will be held on Sunday 9th September.  This  is our major fundraiser for the year, so do mark it in your diary.

Are you downsizing your library?  Would you like to donate your excess books to our sale?  Donations of books will be accepted until Friday 24th August.  We need books on any topic, except text books (of course, they  must be clean and in saleable condition); we can arrange to collect them.  Phone 9326 9288, or alternatively you can drop books into the RHSV in 239 A'Beckett Street, Melbourne.  There is a 10 minutes parking space outside our door, near the corner of William Street.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Melbourne, the Olympic City

With the upcoming Olympic Games in London, it is interesting to reflect on the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.  Melbournians, indeed Australians, regarded hosting the games as an opportunity to appear as a major nation on the world stage.  Between November 22 and December 8, 1956, more than 2  million people attended the events.  Melbourne was decorated and filled with visitors representing sixty-seven nations.  To add to the celebrations, a number of local businesses produced leaflets and pamphlets showcasing Melbourne: many Australians considered the Games as a sign of our "coming of age".

The RHSV holds an interesting collection of ephemera which includes some brochures from the Melbourne Olympics. Melbourne, the Olympic City is a map for visitors which highlights the attractions of the city: Flinders Street Railway Station, the Shrine of Remembrance, the Public Library and a  number of other buildings.  The Souvenir Programme Olympic Games priced at one shilling, details the members of the Olympic Committee, gives the prices of admission tickets and sets out the Games programme and venues.

After the games, a 1956 Olympic Games Results and Records brochure was produced.  With 13 gold medals, Australia's tally was the highest it had yet scored.  Betty Cuthbert, Murray Rose, Shirley Strickland and the members of the Athletics and Swimming relay teams became heroes to school children and adults alike.  Older Australians may remember attending newly completed Olympic venues. Significant for many was the advent of television, which broadcasted many of the events, whilst all over the country others were "glued to the radio". 

Annual CJ La Trobe / AGL Shaw RHSV joint lecture

Dianne Reilly, President of the CJ La Trobe Society, guest speaker Susan Priestley, and RHSV President Dr Andrew Lemon at the lecture last night.
The subject of the annual CJ La Trobe/AGL Shaw Lecture last night was "Crises of 1852 for Victoria’s Lieutenant Governor La Trobe and new arrivals Captain William Dugdale and Henrietta Augusta Davies".
Susan Priestley, MA, FRHSV, and a past president of the RHSV, is an independent historian whose life of the London-born secularist, rationalist, and rights activist Henrietta Dugdale was published in 2011.

The discovery of gold in Victoria started an extraordinary influx of nearly 1700 overseas ships during the year, whose passengers and deserting crew, together with intercolonial migrants, more than doubled the colony’s pre-gold population, and induced crises in accommodation, provisioning, labour, business, public health and policing which the new administration struggled to control. On the last day of 1852, an overworked CJ La Trobe penned his resignation from the position he had held for 13 years. Among the new arrivals were Henrietta Augusta Davies nee Worrell, her first husband and two husbands-to-be. Their experiences offer individual insight into the myriad ways in which Victoria’s new society was shaped.

Henrietta Dugdale featured in Clare Wright's Utopia Girls: how women won the vote which aired on ABC television last week.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Planning notes for the 1954 Royal Visit

Planning notes for the 1954 Royal Visit, presented to the RHSV
by Colonel Ralph Sutton

With the recent interest in the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II it is worth noting that the RHSV Collections contain a number of items relating to Her Majesty, in particular, to the Royal Visit in 1954. Several items were donated to the RHSV by a volunteer, Colonel Ralph Sutton. Colonel Sutton had been in charge of organising the transport arrangements for the proposed 1952 Royal Visit which was cancelled following the death of King George VI. Colonel Sutton’s planning formed the basis for the 1954 visit, although for family reasons he himself was unable take charge of arrangements. 
Among the many interesting items which Colonel Sutton donated to the Society was the book of Planning Notes for the Tour. This book outlines in fascinating detail the arrangements for travel by ship, aircraft, train and car, including instructions as to exact routes to be followed, where vehicles were to stop, and how, where and by whom the Royal couple were to be greeted.  Details of driving speeds, police escorts, handling of the Press, telephones and radios required, how and where flags were to be displayed, and a wide variety of other arrangements are covered.
Other items included in Colonel Sutton’s donations include personal car pennants and signed photographs of both the Queen and Prince Phillip, as personal expressions of thanks for the Colonel’s part in organising a very successful visit.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

New Book in Book Shop

Peter Yule's most recent book is a biography of one of Australia's most astute and daring entrepreneurs, William Lawrence Baillieu. This beautiful hardcover book of 423 pages includes many photographs, covering the period from 1859 to 1932.  'Big Bill' was a major figure in Victorian politics.  He was widely thought to be the 'puppet master' behind every Victorian state ministry.
Yule's biography is "the first ever of this significant Australian, the founder of the Baillieu family dynasty, and arguably the most important individual in the development of the modern Australian economy".
The book is available from our book store for $55 + p/h.
To order a copy you can e-mail us on office@historyvictoria.org.au or phone (03) 9326 9288.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Melbourne Theatres in Transition – 1840s–1940s An Idiosyncratic View

Daisy Searls, left and Mimi Colligan at the launch of the new RHSV exhibition last night

Curated by Mimi Colligan, the exhibition allows us to explore the past world of Melbourne's theatres, theatrical performers, entrepreneurs and early film making.  The exhibition is open on weekdays from 10 am to 4 pm, and will run until 31 August 2012.  See it at The RHSV headquarters, 239 A'Beckett St, Melbourne, near the corner of William Street.  There is access from Flagstaff Station Monday to Friday.

Friday, 18 May 2012

RHSV Awards of Merit 2012

At the RHSV Annual General Meeting on Tuesday evening, six volunteers were recognised for their outstanding service to their historical society.  The picture above shows three from the ranks of our RHSV volunteers.  From the left is David Thompson, Ruth Permezel, John Rose with Acting President Bill Russell after having received their awards.  Professor Russell noted that it was particularly appropriate that these awards be made in National Volunteer week. 

Further awards were made to members of our Affiliated Societies who were nominated by their societies to receive an Award of Merit for their outstanding service.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Findings in the Mock Coronial Inquest into the deaths of Burke & Wills

Dr Thorne on the left calculating the thiamine content of a bottle of wine.
Dr Peter Thorne, Vice President of the Royal Society of Victoria, presents Coroner, Dr Jane Hendtlass with a special gift of wine after she delivered of her findings from the mock Coronial Inquest into the deaths of Robert O'Hara Burke, William John Wills, and Charles Gray.  Members and others, many of whom had attended the two days of evidence given in July 2011, gathered at the RSV on Thursday 19 April to hear Dr Hendtlass' conclusions on the deaths of the above men. 

The original Commission of Inquiry  which sat in 1861 laid most of the blame on Mr Brahe, Mr Wright, and the Exploration Committee.

Dr Hendtlass found that the primary cause of the deaths of Burke, Wills and Gray was 'nutritional inadequacy including starvation and beriberi associated with thiamine deficiency', for which Burke was entirely responsible as the person who made the decisons on what and how much food to take.  She found that Burke was unsuitable to be the leader of the Exploration Expedition.   The responsibility for the appointment of such an unsuitable leader lies with the Exploration Committee, and they must share the blame for the deaths. 

The full report will be available to read on the Royal Society of Victoria website on Monday 30 April.