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).