History in the Making

In History in the Making, one of our three undergraduate capstone units, students write an essay of 4500 words on a research topic of their own devising in any field of history. Here we bring together the abstracts of papers crafted over the past semester, 2018, showcasing the breadth and depth of historical research this unit inspires. This year, the unit was coordinated and taught by Professor Penny Russell and Dr. James Findlay
Where their authors have granted permission, the essays themselves can also be read. We are excited to present this rich collection, as an inspiration to future students and a tribute to the present generation of historians in the making.
Struggle within a Struggle: The Palestinian women’s movement
Gladys Agius

The Palestinian women’s movement for equality and equal rights moved slowly in the decades after the Oslo Peace Accord failures. Israel imposed extreme restricting conditions on Palestinians’ freedom of mobility and encroached on agricultural land to establish settlements for Jewish communities. At the same time Palestinian males experienced excruciating high levels of unemployment and women faced restrictive job opportunities producing further crisis in Palestinian society and family life. Women were faced with intense pressures, to contribute to the family’s budget, seek employment in unfavourable conditions, and maintain family harmony. The progress for gender issues is hindered by patriarchy. Muslims mainly subscribe to strict shari’a laws which are opposed to liberal concepts of women’s independence and equal rights. Consequently education and training for women became extremely important to raise women’s voice in politics. Post Oslo the intervening years were marred by confusion and disagreements of leaders and factions which weakened Palestine’s government (PA) voice and power. Subsequently prominent women academics called for women to be returned to the national forum to represent all Palestinians. At this stage women’s journey to equality and human rights is a “work in progress” and is held firmly in the sights of twenty-first-century Palestinian women.
The Ngô Đình Diệm Coup d’État: Exposing the façade of the United States Nationalist Globalist mission in Vietnam?
William Bailey

Under the Presidency of John F. Kennedy, the world was told that in accordance with its Nationalist Globalist ideology the United States was escalating its involvement in the Civil War between North and South Vietnam. Nationalist Globalism is the ideal of America’s divinely ordained mission to bring freedom and liberal democracy to all nations of the world. Was the U.S. in Vietnam for this two-sided mission? This paper looks at the U.S. policy makers’ decision to support a coup against South Vietnam’s President that took place on November 1st, 1963. It argues that although some did believe in America’s mission, the fact that they supported this coup diminishes the significance of the American Nationalist Globalist ideology in association with their goals.

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Ladies Weekly Dinner Group at Blue Haven Retirement Village

Originally, I had chosen Susannah Place, a museum apart of Sydney Living Museums, as my chosen organisation. A terrace of four houses located within the Rocks, Susannah Place housed more than 100 families between 1844 and 1990 and is characterised by tiny backyards, basement kitchens and outhouses. Initially, I wanted to work with Susannah Place for one key reason. As a child, my mother took me to the museum and it is my earliest memory of being fascinated by history. In particular, I was enthralled with the way the museum captured eras, memories, family histories, architecture and aesthetics through the restoration of each house. Stepping into Susannah Place is like time travelling to a different era.
However, I’ve experienced some difficulty in setting up a project at the museum, so have come up with a new organisation and idea for a project. I am extremely interested in personal histories and after speaking with my mother and grandmother I came up with a solution. My grandmother lives in Blue Haven Retirement Village which is located in my hometown of Kiama on the south coast. She is a part of a social group of 8-10 ladies who meet for dinner weekly. After discussing the group with my grandmother, I had a couple ideas of what could be beneficial to both their group and my project. I am thinking that it might beneficial if I collated a recipe and short anecdote from each of the group’s members into a small cookbook. In my experience, certain foods, recipes and social experiences are tied into the collective memories of our lives. I believe the connection between food and memory/personal history is an avenue of history that hasn’t often been explored and is something that intrigues me greatly. It is incredible to me how by cooking a certain recipe or eating a certain food, we can be transported back to particular moments in our histories. As it is my last semester of university, I have found myself contemplating what history means to me- why I chose to study it, why I love it, how it has altered my life course and how I define it. These are questions that I am eager to have answered by people outside of the academic/professional historical professions. I am far more interested in understanding history’s implications in the everyday on everyday people. Essentially, I want to take all the knowledge I have acquired over my degree and apply it to life ‘beyond the classroom’. 
That being said, I am extremely eager to undertake work on my project in the semester break when I head home to visit my family. I believe this project will be extremely sentimental and meaningful not only for myself but the group as well. I am extremely excited to begin interviewing these ladies and to hear their amazing personal histories.

A Cup of Tea with a Side of History…

This week saw me venture on a six hour train journey to Tamworth, NSW. Not only was it great to see my family, but it was lovely to be surrounded by fellow history lovers from the local community. My chosen organisation is the Tamworth Historical Society. They have a core presence in the Tamworth community and are a part of many historical events throughout the town, for example the recent Tamworth Bicentenary of explorer John Oxley (the first European to reach the area).
My first meeting involved a cup of tea, and another, and another. I was surrounded by many older locals who had been a part of the society since the early years. This particular group was the Collections Committee, who are tasked with collecting donated items, assigning provenance and its historical significance to the area. That morning there was a couple who had dropped in a trophy from the local Business Awards in the ’80s, and were asking about a mysterious sewing device they had, many ladies had ideas of what it was and resulted into a google search, yet it still remains a mystery. After chatting away, one lady named Audrey had brought up a past memory of her and her friend throughout WWII. They both would go to the 102 General Hospital in town and help wounded soldiers write letters for home, and then frequent the Town Hall for weekend dances. There was a warmness to her memory, even through the harsher times. ‘It was just what everyone did’, seemingly simplifying the day to day harshness of war. This reminded me again of Anna Clark’s research into the play between memory and history, and the benefit that nostalgia can bring to people.
My second meeting with the society was with the Library and Archives Committee. I spoke with the ladies about my potential project and there was mention of me completing a brochure for this particular committee. They are assigned with the archiving all of the historical documents that come to the Society. Whether it is published research or a member’s sketch of a local historical site, they will archive it. From this meeting I had the opportunity to begin the process of sorting the archives of the local newspaper, the Northern Daily Leader. This paper had begun in the late 1870s and had changed names throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, until finding its current title. Our job across the day was to chronologically stack the bundles of broadsheet newspapers into their names. We sorted them up until 1910, then moved onto the smaller tabloid bundles from 1980s through to the early 2000s. A challenge was finding the bundles themselves as throughout the moving process the Council had neglected to stack them the way they were previously archived. Also some older bundles that were wrapped in paper had the wrong dates placed on them. We packed up for the day and were covered in dust and grime from the prints. Reflecting upon this experience, it was incredible to be reconnected to a lived community, one that still enjoys the comfort in having a cup of tea and chatting without distraction. You could sense that there was a real passion for the local history amongst the society and I am honoured to be welcomed back into that space.
Although it did not seem like that much work was done, I found it rewarding to be surrounded in so much local history. I aim to continue helping with the archives as well when I return home. Hopefully, I will be able to go through some of the papers too, flicking through their tarnished issues to find some ancestors nestled in their pages.

Maltese Community Council of NSW

I have always been interested in History for as long as I can remember. From going through family photo albums with my grandparents and hearing the many stories of the various people in these images to acquiring my Dad’s obsession of documentaries and old maps. My interest in history began with my personal families history but has extended.
The organisation I am working with for my project is the Maltese Community Council of NSW, based in West Parramatta. The Maltese Community Council of NSW (MCC of NSW) is an umbrella organisation currently with 15 associated organisations across NSW but with many is Sydney. The MCC’s primary goal is to assist these organisations, which provide services to the local Maltese/Australian Community. A further focus of the organisation is continuing to foster Maltese language and culture in Australia and providing services for the elderly.
Engaging with this organisation and the Maltese community has allowed my to learn about the local history of another part of Sydney. My recent meetings with the Maltese Community Council and hearing stories about Maltese community in Australia has highlighted to me the importance of migration history. Despite not being connected to the Maltese community directly I am able to appreciate the importance of migration history and preservation of culture and language. Personally my grandfather immigrated to Australia post WWII similarly to many in the Maltese Community and further living in Wareemba in the Inner West, there is a strong Italian community which celebrates migration and cultural traditions.
I am currently assisitng the organisation in designing a document of key achievements. From this document of key achievements I am designing a brochure and the information will also be put on the website, which I will try to assist in updating. Beginning my research into the MCC it is clear that this organisation has had continual positive impact. From key achievements of the publication of the ‘Maltese Herald’ a bi-lingual newspaper, to being heavily involved in the landmark decision of Dual Citizenship for Maltese Australians and continuing to assist the Australian Maltese Community providing cultural, sporting, language and many more services. The MCC expressed by the organisation was a desire to connect to the younger generation of Maltese Australians, to generate greater interest in Maltese cultural and community organisations. Through my project I hope to highlight the achievements of this organisation and the great community work they continue to do.
Website: https://mccnsw.org.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1526025277656567/about/
Email: mcconsw@gmail.com