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).

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