Writing for the NHSA

For my project, I volunteered at the NHSA (Naval Historical Society of Australia). After I’ve completed a research directory to make further research processes within the NHSA easier and faster, and have transferred 40 pdf and Word files with the Occasional Papers (the NHSA’s periodical articles) into the website’s blog post format, I was approached by Walter, the editor of the Naval Historical Review – a quarterly journal published by the NHSA. The Naval Historical Review is a printed edition that goes to all NHSA members who pay an annual subscription. The average print run of the magazine is about 700 copies, and it is also available to members online.
Walter told me that, in his opinion, the Review lacked publications about the modern international naval affairs, thus failing to interest a wider audience. After finding out that I am Russian, Walter proposed for me to help him with writing and editing an article for the Review about the modern Russian naval perspective. Walter was specifically interested in the perspective on the latest maritime affairs concerning the Northern Sea Route (NSR), a shipping route that stretches from the Novaya Zemlya archipelago to the Bering Strait. When we were discussing this in late September, a container ship called Venta Maersk was about to complete a historical journey through the NSR, the first of its kind, proving if the NSR could be further used for container vessels and trade. This could change the map of international shipping routes, and the vessel’s later successful completion of the journey on September 28 renewed international – and, of course, Russian – interest in the NSR’s possibilities.
As Walter and I have decided, he would like me to translate several Russian news sources about the current Russian development of the NSR, combined with a part from an analytical article, into English, and to add a short historical introduction. Thus, the goal was to provide the Naval Historical Review with an article of approx. 3000 words (or less) that would cover the current NSR-related affairs, future perspectives, and local Russian maritime news. While it is not original in its content – it mostly consists of translations – it would be original, and highly interesting, for the Australian readers of the journal, and, as Walter himself noted, a Russian news source and a Russian translator would add up to the credibility of the material.
In my process of translation and editing, I was aiming for a balance of technical features and latest developments with a more general information style. Most of the Russian maritime news are very technically written, and I dutifully translated them as such, bearing in mind that the journal’s audience probably consists of a narrow group of people well informed about ships and their construction. At the same time, it is a public journal article, so it doesn’t seek to be strictly academical or formal. And, because Walter wanted the article to inform its audience about the current affairs, not the past, I have only included a brief introduction of the historical context of Russian Arctic exploration history without delving into much detail. The result will be published in the next edition of the Journal, in March 2019.
Overall, the translation and editing process had been a bit of a challenge. Yet working with the NHSA as a whole was a delight; I’m very glad I could contribute to their work, and hope that the article will be of use and of interest to the readers. It was so lovely to get to know some of the members, who were incredibly welcoming and friendly over the course of our work together. I am grateful to the people of the Society for their time, and to Mike for the opportunity.

Self-Guided Street Library Walking Tour

My project was made with the Street Library Australia organisation, based in Sydney’s Inner West with their presence spreading across the nation as the number of these yard-based homes for books continue to grow. Whilst it is still in its infancy, the Street Library Australia organisation continues to grow and looking back at the scheme’s beginning shows where this success stems from. Thus, when meeting with the founder and general manager of the organisation we decided that it would be most beneficial to focus on the ‘birthplace’ of the organisation, Sydney’s Inner West. As we began to formulate different ideas for the project, we came to the conclusion that a walking tour of the Newtown and Erskineville area would be most achievable and advantageous in showing the successes of this scheme. The creation of a walking tour had the ability to highlight and further the organisation’s goals of literacy encouragement, community enhancement and the increase in Street Libraries.
A central part of the research which I undertook in order to create the walking tour were interviews held with Street Librarians. It was through this strategy that I realised how important the community aspect is to the organisation as many Street Librarians were most impressed with the way in which the Street Libraries had helped them to get to know neighbours better, meet people whom they otherwise would not have crossed paths with and create a meeting point. Thus, the questions I asked the Street Librarians focused on their personal history with the scheme and the community advantages which they had noticed in relation to it. By keeping the questions general, it allowed me to learn through personal anecdotes and as each person’s experience was different, they could share their own story.
I originally planned to create a walking tour to show the abundance of Street Libraries in the Newtown and Erskineville areas and the way in which this organisation promotes literacy. However, these interviews allowed me to realise the importance of the sense of community which they promote. Through this walking tour, I was able to highlight the way in which a community of Street Libraries has the ability to bring people together and strengthen ties in the local area. By creating a walking tour, I demonstrated that this is a beneficial social and community strategy which can be mimicked in other areas. This advantageous quality is becoming clearer as councils have begun to notice these benefits and subsequently work with and promote the Street Library organisation.
I deliberated for a long time over what would be the best way to format my walking tour. I brought together all of my data first, in order to assess what was the best way to make a walking tour which was both accessible and easy to follow. After considering a walking tour app or a physical pamphlet, I decided that the best strategy was to create a blog-style website. This way, I was not limited by size restrictions, proximity or pre-made templates, but could instead build a format which suited my project. When building this website, a vital aspect which I focused on was the ability for this to be accessed by both laptop and mobile devices. This was integral, as I wanted people to be able to complete the tour whilst following the directions on the website, thus requiring portability. In addition, the blog-style that I built allowed for all information to be presented on one page, making it easy to follow without needing to click onto other pages, especially while walking.
While I was researching pre-existing walking tours, I came across a postcard style printable walking tour. I thought that this would work well to go alongside my website as this version is a physical copy. This summarised form can be distributed as an advertisement for the organisation, with links to the walking tour for more information and is reachable for people that do not have easy access to technology.
Overall, the walking tour which I created evolved significantly since the project was decided on. While I originally focused on the literary benefits of the scheme, it shifted into highlighting the community aspect. My aim is that the walking tour which I have created will highlight the community benefits of the Street Library organisation, and thus prompt the creation of more Street Library communities, contributing to the organisation’s goal to have 5000 by December 2021.
Street Library Walking Tour – https://streetlibrary.wixsite.com/walkingtour
Street Library Australia Organisation – https://streetlibrary.org.au

Balmain: Out of the Books

For my major project this semester I have been working with the Balmain Institute. The Balmain Institute is a not for profit organisation which hosts public talks and discussions on topics such as the arts, science, economics, health, education, governance, the environment and current affairs. Established in 2010, the Balmain Institute has links to the former Balmain Workingmen’s Institute, which from 1863 provided the residents of Balmain with intellectual stimulation, opportunities for self-education, recreation and companionship. Furthermore, the original Balmain Workingmen’s Institute saw the suburb of Balmain transform from a blue-collar area to a gentrified, predominately middle-class suburb.
I chose to work with the Balmain Institute because of its relationship with the local community. The majority of the members of the Balmain Institute are long-term residents of Balmain and its surrounding suburbs, who are passionate about its history and its strong links to the early history of Sydney. When I think about what I love about history, it is the stories that have been hidden in plain view around us. Working with the Balmain Institute this semester has been an opportunity to shine a light on these stories, bring Balmain’s history out of the books and help the Balmain Institute to introduce a new, younger audience to their organisation and work and hopefully continue it into the future.
When I first made contact with the Balmain Institute, the organisation was very interested in me working with them. Initially suggesting I undertake a project looking at how the suburb had physically transformed over time, the project has expanded as I have done my research. Whilst there are numerous secondary sources about Balmain written by local historians, few of these can be found online. Additionally, Balmain’s oral histories are becoming less accessible as long-term residents age and the demographic of Balmain changes as a result of gentrification. Due to membership of the Balmain Institute primarily being people from the older generations who use print resources and a lack of dedicated funds, the organisation’s local historical sources online are lagging behind other organisations and institutions such as local history resources accessible through the State Library of New South Wales and municipal libraries. Therefore, it is the younger ‘online’ generation that is missing out on the stories which surround us.
The aim of this project is to compare how Balmain has physically transformed over time through maps from different time periods and link them to the memories and stories held by residents of the suburb, thus revealing what living in Balmain means to the local community. The project also examines how history can be preserved and communicated in ways other than traditional, printed history. Drawing on local history books, the Leichhardt Historical Journal, and the personal stories of some of Balmain’s residents, the aim is to reveal to others, particularly the younger generations, the depth of history they are surrounded by. The project also serves as a marketing campaign for the Balmain Institute by attracting new members of the organisation. The long-term goal is for younger residents and new residents of Balmain to learn about our local history, share their own stories and encourage them to engage with their local community through organisations such as the Balmain Institute.
I chose to present my research through the website ‘Balmain: Out of the Books’. A website is an easy and accessible way for people to access information and learn about the stories that have shaped a community. Inspired by other community history websites such as ‘Talk About Place’ (http://talkaboutplace.com/) and ‘Philaplace’ (http://www.philaplace.org/) which look at how a community is shaped by its residents and their history whether it be small actions or big historical moments; the aim was to create an ‘unending dialogue between the past and present’. The first page of the website or ‘Mapping Balmain’ looks at how Balmain has physically transformed over time. Using maps drawn by local historians and drawing inspiration from the book ‘Murs et Mémoire: la construction de Paris’ I drew my own maps to reveal changes to the suburb over the last 150 years. I also provided some information about these land settlements, particularly in the nineteenth century. On the page ‘Memories’ I used mapping software to pinpoint stories, memories and interesting facts about the history of Balmain. The next page, ‘Then and Now’ compares historic photographs of Balmain with modern photographs that I took. I have grown up being fascinated by these photographs and this project was an amazing opportunity to be able to show this rich resource off. Finally, I also included a contact form in which other residents can submit their own memories to the website. I plan to upload these stories as I receive more and more. I have also been using social media to create an online following of the website. I have set up both a Facebook page for ‘Balmain: Out of the Books’ as well as an Instagram page, which Inner West Council has started following.
I recently had a meeting with Dr Margaret Vickers, my original contact from the Balmain Institute, where we discussed the sustainability of the website ‘Balmain: Out of the Books’. Now the website is live, the Balmain Institute will notify its members about it in its monthly newsletter. The Institute will also post about the page on its various social media pages. Next year, the Institute is planning for me to give a talk at one of their monthly seminars about the project. I am also planning to put some flyers on the community noticeboard and possibly talk to local schools about the project, thus expanding the project even more.
Working with the Balmain Institute and creating this website over the past four months has been such a pleasure. I hope that ‘Balmain: Out of the Books’ will be a useful resource for not only the Balmain Institute in years to come, but also a source of intellectual stimulation and something that evokes a sense of belonging amongst Balmain’s resident’s past, present and future, just as the Institute has done since 1863.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Balmain-Out-of-the-Books-776048262787598/
snails bay1.jpg

Foodie Friends of Blue Haven

Link to Project:

For the past few months I have worked with a social community group my grandmother is an active participant of at Blue Haven Retirement Village in Kiama on the south coast of New South Wales. The Foodie Friends of Blue Haven meet every Thursday night for dinner and participate in regular social activities in and around the village. Some of these men and women have been friends for decades, with most growing up in and around the Kiama area. This group provides participants with conversation and friendship but also with a constant support network through which they are able to navigate the trials and tribulations of the later stages of life with. I wanted to provide this incredible group with a memento which acts simultaneously to thank them for my grandmother’s care over the years, but also as a celebration of their amazing bonds friendship and community spirit.
For this reason, the group thought it would be best to create a cook book of sorts- something that not only celebrates their friendship as a group, but also highlights their personal histories and backgrounds. The final product has culminated in a series of recipes categorised into three sections- snacks, mains, and desserts, and includes an anecdote related to a group member’s memories of either cooking or eating the recipe, followed by an ingredients list and method with how they have made it. As I began to collate the recipes of the individuals who chose to participate (through emails and interviews), a prominent question emerged that worked to guide my design, appropriation of my data, and final product:
“ What is the importance and role of food as a vehicle for remembering family, personal and community histories?”
Through various interviews with group members, it became extremely clear that food is an extremely important element in facilitating memory and senses of nostalgia, particularly with older group members. Incredibly, most members were able to recall very specific details about their childhood, parents, siblings, the neighbourhoods they grew up in, and even the physical surrounds, despite having mental disabilities such as Alzheimer’s and dementia that come with old age. Through eating certain foods, individuals were able to retain their memories of the past, despite the mental challenges that faced them in retaining short term memory in the present. For example, my grandmother June Lyons, was able to recall incredible minute details about her childhood as she told me her recipe for lamb shanks. She was able to recall the feelings of nausea and sadness of eating lamb as a child due to ‘seeing’ the lambs in the fields around her town as she ate it over 75 years ago, despite the onset of dementia as well as living with Parkinson’s disease for the last 30 years. This example alone is a clear testament towards the power of food as a vehicle for memory.
In approaching this project, I believed it was especially important to apply an anthropological (as well as historical) perspective in order to facilitate an investigation of the encultured nature of food and memory so that it could be more wholly understood. I found Holtzman’s Food and Memory to be of particular use in investigating my question. Ultimately, he investigates food as a multifaceted object, that is, in terms of both fuel and sustenance as well as a symbol, “medium of exchange”, and as a “sensuous object experienced by an embodied self” (pg 372). Food provides individuals with ways of “private remembrance, public displays of historically validated identity, an intense experience of an epochal historical shift, or reading the present through the imagining” of the past (ibid). Ultimately, food is able to have a powerful influence over memory due to the physical act of eating allowing transmissions of “powerful mnemonic cues, principally through smells and tastes” to reach both the conscious and subconscious (pg 373). The power of mnemonic cues in facilitating memory was evident through each of my interviews and correspondence with the members of the Foodie Friends.
Furthermore, Holtzman denotes food as being able to maintain and constitute historical identities (ibid). This was particularly evident through my interviews with Patrick O’Connor. Through his cabbage and bacon recipe, he was able to maintain both his sense of cultural identity and belonging as an Irish man, but was also able to elucidate specific and detailed memories of his childhood. In line with Brewer’s reasoning in Microhistory and the Histories of Everyday Life, the data gathered through my interviews with group members supports the argument for the importance of history at a grass roots level. According to Brewer, the historian has a duty to give significance and agency toward the happenings of everyday life, now and in the past (pg 87-88). Whilst the everyday happenings of life such as eating, may not seem to hold significance from afar, by examining food and its relation to memory as I have done in my project, ultimately shows how these minute occurrences play an instrumental role in our constructions of identity and the facilitation of our personal histories. The Foodie Friends are a prominent example of the power of how something as simple as food and eating, have significant influence upon the maintenance of memory and personal history.
In the production of my major project, I incorporated various medias that culminated in the final product. I employed the use of voice memos in recording oral histories, as well as email and phone to keep in contact with participating group members. After collating the recipes and anecdotes into a single word document, I worked at integrating the file into the website Canva, from which I was able to create a beautifully polished digital cookbook. Utilising Canva’s helpful tools, I was able to create a beautiful memento for the Foodie Friends of Blue Haven which I am sure they will cherish as a symbol of their friendship for years to come. I have sent a link to each member which directs them toward my Canva profile from which they can view the book. Before Christmas (my financial situation does not permit at the moment), I am planning to get a paperback copy of the cookbook printed for each member of the group as a thank you for helping me with this project.
As a final note, I would like to express my gratitude towards not only the group, but Mike as well for making this project possible. I have thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of work, design, research and reading I have put in to this project and I am proud of the result.

Mapping the Monday Morning Cooking Club

My project is the result of my combined passion for history and food. When considering what organisations I would like to work with, The Monday Morning Cooking Club (MMCC) made its way to my list – an outlier amongst the more conventional, historically-orientated museums and libraries. Currently, MMCC is a group of four women who, working as a non-for-profit, preserve, test, curate and share heirloom recipes from the Jewish community. Based in Sydney but focussed globally, these recipes are shared through their cookbooks. As a fan of MMCC’s books, though not sure what form my project would take, I knew that their mission resonated with what I love about history. My project is multi-layered and the result of conversations mainly with Lisa Goldberg, a founding member of MMCC. From these discussions, a focus on both the future and the past of MMCC emerged. 
Looking toward the future, part of my project has been focused on the preparation of several biographical vignettes about the recipe contributors who shall appear in MMCC’s next book, due for publication in 2020. This part of the project is informed by historian Carol Harris-Shapiro, who argues that the way people engage with food, particularly in Jewish culture, communicates identity of individuals and groups. Working on this, I came to realise that I was collecting valuable historical sources, in particular about Jewish heritage, culture and lives. I have thus compiled the information into an accessible archive in the form of a Google Doc to be shared with MMCC in case future historians want to continue work with this information.
A secondary aim for my project is stimulating ‘historical consciousness’ about how these personal stories fit within the broader history of the global Jewish diaspora. Inspired by SBS’s Cronulla Riots website, this has been achieved through the creation of an online, interactive StoryMap through which the stories can be considered simultaneously as part of this historical phenomena. See https://uploads.knightlab.com/storymapjs/0a3c0812ade313d5efd123bf633c7f89/mmcc/index.html
Another element of my project has been looking back at the past three MMCC cookbooks, in order to map the heritage of the MMCC community. Whilst MMCC has been aware that the cooks who had contributed to their last three books hailed from diverse places and backgrounds, they had not kept comprehensive records about these details. Using the bios from the previous books, I created a spreadsheet documenting where the cooks of each book were born and grew up, where they had now moved to, and where their forebears had originated from. I then compiled this into a summary per book as well as an overall summary, drawing the data together to create a clearer picture of the heritage of the MMCC community. From this data, I calculated statistics and used data-visualisation to create an infographic report to communicate my findings to the MMCC team. This part of my project is layered in presentation and audience, with my findings about the diversity of the contributors being communicated to MMCC’s audience through a guest blog post that I was invited to write. This has been published to the MMCC blog and is available at https://mondaymorningcookingclub.com.au/2018/11/26/the-monday-morning-cooking-club-melting-pot/.
It seemed wrong to do a project focused on food without any cooking or eating and so, toward the end of semester I baked one of MMCC’s recipes. As I formed the sweet, date-filled pastries called Menanas, shaping each one by hand I felt a connection to the cook who had contributed the recipe. It was from this that I came to appreciate the way in which cooking is a tangible form of history, with it, in a way, constituting a form of historical reenactment. In this way my project is also inextricably informed by my personal experience of cooking MMCC’s recipes. Over the years, by cooking from the MMCC books, I have gained valuable insights into Jewish culture and history. This idea is informed by the arguments of several historians, including Michelle Moon, Cathy Stanton and Monica Janowski, who all concur that the sharing of food can forge connections between the past and the present. My project constitutes a creative and original contribution to this scholarship, as well as a significant contribution to the mission of The Monday Morning Cooking Club. 
Finally, it has been such a privilege to work with the wonderful ladies of The Monday Morning Cooking Club as well as their contributors in producing this project.

Having a Yarn With Uncle Greg

Nicole and Uncle Greg 5.jpg
The process for my ‘History Beyond the Classroom’ assignment began with contacting various organisations. With some luck and persistence, I spoke with a man named Miguel from the Blacktown Arts Centre, who directed me to a lovely lady named Debbie Higgison (Solid Ground Education Project Officer). Debbie had been helping an Aboriginal Elder named Uncle Greg sort, catalogue and archive his personal collection of historical ephemera.
Debbie and I agreed to meet every Thursday from 3pm to 5pm at Uncle Greg’s house. The first day I turned up at Uncle Greg’s house I was amazed by the artwork and tools sitting on the front porch. I was welcomed inside by Debbie and we had a chat about what the project involved, my role and how I could help her in relation to Uncle Greg’s historical records. Throughout the project I made sure to take direct cues from my supervisor, based on what they needed me to do. When I first met Uncle Greg we began talking. During the first half an hour our conversations were short and slow. It was not long before Uncle Greg had me entranced with stories about his family and Indigenous culture. He often talked about how the past always related to ‘good old values’. This was a clear indication of the importance of values, knowledge and lore passed down by the Elders before him. Everything had purpose. Learning was often done outside of the classroom. The photographs I began to explore documented a timeline of Uncle Greg’s involvement in the community and his participation in important historical Indigenous events since the 1960’s. Examples of this include Uncle Greg’s involvement in a Land Rights Protest, and his visit to Uluru when it was being handed back to the traditional owners of the land.
The project is made up of several parts. The project was created mainly through Uncle Greg’s need to clean up and sort the physical ‘stuff’ in his house that had gotten in the way of his ability to get around. The ‘stuff’ was made up (partly) of amazing photographs that dated from the 60’s to the present day and featured key events in Indigenous history that corresponded with Uncle Greg’s life. I loved the idea of working with photos, especially ones taken by a 35mm camera. Photographs allows us to visit the past, but also understand the values placed on ideas in the present. Photography acts as a primary source, but can be interpreted in many different ways. Archiving is crucial for those that come after us, stepping into the historical landscape. The photographs are physical links to Indigenous history which uses storytelling to teach about lore and connection to the community.
I was asked by my supervisor to categorise the photographs in a way that could be used to contribute to a potential Indigenous museum and with Uncle Greg’s future autobiography in mind. My supervisor reminded me of the importance of storytelling and it’s inextricable link to Indigenous history. She stated that often the physical items like photographs can sometimes be forgotten. The project consists of an online photographic archive, with a corresponding excel sheet that are both easily accessible. It is also made up of a presentation and interview, merging the public history process and Uncle Greg’s story telling.
This project is highly unique. Stepping into the household of another person and going through photographs that include intimate details about one’s life create a sense of trust between the two parties involved. It is unique in the sense that documenting this community history is not just about the physical objects, but rather about the connection between historian and history maker.
This assignment had me asking lots of questions like:
What is my responsibility for this kind of public history making sure its told how it should be? Does archiving photos with the creator and featured person create more meaning? How does one create a comfortable space for oral testimony?
Creating the online archive and the excel sheet was extensive and hard work. I chose to create an online archive because of the easy accessibility for Uncle Greg, those working on his book, and (if he decides to donate his collection) future museums. Google Drive seemed like the easiest platform for sustainability as it can be contributed to at any time and can change with changes in the historical landscape. Using the Google Drive means that museum’s will already have online records on the photographs. I began first with sorting through several boxes that had been used to store photographs, after Uncle Greg’s house had being cleaned.
There was what felt like thousands of photographs. Previously the photographs had not been stored correctly and many of them had been partially damaged. I began picking up bunches of photographs and sorting them thematically into different boxes (artworks, family, important people, significant events and Uncle Greg). After I had sorted through majority of the photographs, I began scanning and uploading images onto a USB and then copying them to the Google Drive archive into different folders using a numbering system. For example, all photos of Uncle Greg have a sticker on the back with a number from 1001 to 1999. I began to inquire about different photos with Uncle Greg and record details about them on the back. After scanning the photos I placed them into a plastic box to keep the photos dry and to prevent the possibility of them getting further damaged.
I then went through all the photos and created a record of each one on the excel sheet. Each photo was given a number on the back and then corresponding details like the date, event, and a description were added to the excel sheet.
The presentation was created to support Uncle Greg during his Welcome to Country ceremonies. Together Uncle Greg and I began adding the photographs we both thought would be appropriate and relevant to his work in the community and that reflected his life. The presentation would be used to play behind Uncle Greg and to act as a visual aid for when he is sharing his stories.
At the beginning of my visits Uncle Greg would tell me the most amazing stories about his family and what it was like growing up in La Perouse. I was unsure how to interrupt him and how to record his stories. I also began to question my ethical position. Was it ethical to record his story telling, because storytelling is such an important part of Indigenous belief and culture. In fact – I struggled to interrupt him when he was talking because I was too engrossed in his stories and with his storytelling ability. When creating the interview, I would have to ask Uncle Greg in advance. I would prepare and provide explicit questions that evoked stories I had heard before and thought reflected the archive. I had a conversation with Uncle Greg about whether he would mind doing an interview with me for my assignment and provided him with potential questions. He agreed straight away. Prompting Uncle Greg and creating what is more like a conversation, with follow up questions ensured the interview flowed.
Historical interviews should be conducted as a dynamic and fluid conversation, moulding and shaping as the interview expands. During my interview with Uncle Greg I was aware that he was shaping the story with my own nationality as an important part. He specifically talks about Maltese people to relate the story back to me. I think this is an example of an important part of storytelling in general. The idea that stories are used to engage people and teach them a moral lesson.
Throughout the project, I considered my own role in telling history and my responsibility to uplift Indigenous histories, not just tell them myself. A central part of the project was being conscious of what Uncle Greg wanted, and considering whether what I was doing was a true representation of how Uncle Greg wanted his history told. My goal was to contribute to the historical work Uncle Greg needed, instead of dominating the space with my own ideas.

Historical Re-enactment – Project Proposal

Project Rationale
Patrick Sunderland
SID: 450239519
My project is a feature article about the world of historical re-enactment in Sydney, based on my experiences with the Australasian Living History Federation and my meetings with their various member groups. Throughout the article I have attempted to meld my own observations as an outsider to historical re-enactment, and the opinions and views of members of the ALHF groups. I have also included descriptions of the public events and pictures alongside to create a more cohesive image of what historical re-enactment is like.
My interest in this project was on the idea of alternate ways in which we might gain an understanding of history. Rather than, as some other students did, focus on history that has not been widely documented (e.g. local/indigenous history), I focused on history that IS well-documented in academia (i.e. European/British history) but that is being explored in a different way. I believe that there are many who are passionate or interested in history but do not pursue it because they aren’t interested in academia and find reading and writing essays tedious. For these people, historical re-enactment seems like a fantastic alternative – a way to understand history in practical terms, using a totally different skill-set and with much more personal freedom. However, historical re-enactment is quite a niche, unpopular hobby due to people feeling embarrassed to try it, or unable to afford it, or simply not aware of how to begin doing it. Furthermore, when I was talking to these groups I asked them about anything I could help with, but the only thing they seemed to be interested in was public exposure for their group so as to bring in new members. With all this in mind, I decided to aim my article at people who do not much, if anything, about historical re-enactment. In more specific terms, my aim is to educate people about medieval re-enactment, show them how entertaining it can be, and introduce some of the more charismatic and helpful members of the groups. This is why a large part of the article is focused on my experience participating in the St Ives Medieval Faire – as an outsider trying re-enactment for the first time, I act as an audience surrogate and encourage people to try it as I have. In other words, my positive experience becomes their potential positive experience.
In terms of evidence, I have no real secondary sources. This is a sort of ‘Gonzo’ journalistic piece, based entirely on subjective experience instead of objective or empirical evidence – the entire content of the article is my experience and the interviews that I personally conducted. The reason for this, again, was to make the piece as accessible as possible. Earlier in the semester I had planned to make my article more about the veracity of re-enactment, and the process by which historical accuracy is assured among the groups, but I came to realise that it wouldn’t be particularly effective as a project. I was interested in the historiography personally, but I decided that if I really believed that re-enactment provides an avenue to understand history for people less academically-minded, then it would be counterproductive to write a piece that concerned itself with the minutia of peer review.
There is also the question of how best to gain exposure for my project so that the people I am trying to reach can actually read it. The first avenue I aim to try is submission to various local newspapers. Once this project has received feedback, I will incorporate that feedback and then send it in to my local newspapers, the Village Observer and the North Shore Times. The North Shore Times would be particularly good as it also has newspapers in St Ives, where the largest Medieval Faire in Sydney is held, thus hopefully appealing to those who have heard of the Faire and wish to participate. I may also send it to Southern Highland News, a newspaper in Berrima which is not only a historical town itself but is also where I attended the Inter-Group Training Session. I feel like newspapers are a good approach because if the article is put online I share links to it, and if it is only printed then it will be a good way to have my article reach older generations, which anecdotally seem to make up a great deal of re-enacting group membership. I will also send the article to the member groups that I interacted with as well as the ALHF leadership themselves, in case any of them wish to post it or excerpts from it on their websites/facebook groups. Since the article is rather long (~3,000 words), I can imagine it would need to be condensed for a local newspaper article, but that can be easily done if I simply limit the scope to one of the events I attended, instead of three. If no newspaper is interested, then I can always post it on our ‘historymatters’ blog to keep an online electronic copy of it.
Finally, I’m quite happy with the originality of this piece. While investigating different groups to interview, a few groups sent me news articles that had already been written about them or similar re-enactment groups, but these articles were often quite critical of the hobby or treated it as a bizarre oddity. On the other hand, some of the re-enactors worked in academia and had published their own defences of re-enactment and living history, but this was an academic defence, using quite technical historiographical arguments that, as after mentioned, I did not want to immerse myself in. Ultimately this article provides a layman’s introduction to historical re-enactment that, ideally, will encourage people to give it a try. In doing so, I aim to demonstrate re-enactment’s value – to convey that one can find both entertaining and informative ways to pursue history outside the classroom.

Finding Elizabeth Pope

Elizabeth Pope worked at the Australian Museum for over 33 years from 1939 to 1972.  Pope spent her life investigating the seashore in coastal towns all over Australia. As a public figure and head of the department of Worms and Echinoderms at the AM, Pope enthused and connected with intellectuals and interested amateurs over the minutia of seashore life. Her success as an educated female scientist stands out as unique. Rumored to have been of formidable character and forthright disposition, Pope worked hard to match her male colleagues, eventually becoming Deputy Director of the Australian Museum in 1971. The Australian Museum’s archive provides some semblance of her life and career. Of particular interest is the two road trips she took with  scientists William J. Dakin and Isabel Bennett  along the East coast of Australia, in 1946. These collecting trips surveyed a range of sea animals and their distribution on the rocky shore, and many of the findings were eventually published in the popular seashore guide ‘Australian Seashores’ (1952). The unpublished data from this trip is a scientific, literary and visual record that neatly demonstrates why her work should be considered of enduring significance to scientific, historical and heritage contexts.
It has been a pleasure working with the Australian Museum archives department to flesh out Pope’s story and make her materials more available to future researchers.

Australian Himalayan Foundation: Creating History

‘Getting what is needed most, to those most in need’.
This is the mission that has been motivating the Australian Himalayan Foundation (AHF) to continue the great work they have been doing in the remote regions if the Himalayas for the past 17 years (established in 2001). They achieve this through working in partnership with the people of the remote Himalaya to improve living standards through better education and training, improved health services and environmental sustainability.
I first became interested in working with the organisation when I heard about their flagship program; The Teacher Training and Quality Education Program. This program focuses on teaching teachers how to provide quality education to students. As an aspiring teacher myself, this is something I have very passionate about.
During my initial meeting with the organisations CEO Carolyn Hamer-Smith; Carolyn explained that one of AHF’s goals for this year was to create corporate history and major achievements timeline. A task, I must admit, was considerably more challenging than I first anticipated. This was useful to the organisation because due to lack of resources they had never made any sort of formal history or archives of the work of the charity. It will also give them a list of the major achievements/goals the organisation have accomplished over the years. This is something they can use on their website as a promotional strategy to show current sponsors the great work they are doing as well as encourage new sponsors.
Following the initial meeting, I was emailed a list outlining what exactly the organisation wanted to be included in this list and got to work researching and constructing. I quickly realised that this would not be an easy task. Due to the lack of online data on the organisation and the fact, there have been so many people coming and going through the company; both volunteered and paid, it has been very hard to access the needed information to create this list. I began by going through the annual reports and other online forums to gather all the needed information I could. This was useful for recent years but given the charity only began producing annual reports in 2009 there was a great deal of information missing. I, therefore, organised to meet the CEO and the former secretary at the AHF office to go through the achieves and find the missing information. This is incredibly useful and also very interesting to see how the charity operates. I managed to gather the majority of missing information about the recent years of the charity but still struggled to gather the necessary information about the early years. We decided the best way to gather this information was to meet with the founding chairman Simon Balderstone. I sent Simon the information I was still missing and he gathered what he could from his archives and the rest (particularly the information about the forming of the charity) I got from his oral history. This was the first time I had collected information through the form of oral history and I must say the reading by Lorina Barker, the websites in the unit outline and the lecture we had on oral histories were very helpful in planning the best way to approach this. Once I gathered the information needed and wrote it up in a formally I sent it back to Simon to ensure he approved and it was all correct. I have now sent the copy of the corporate history and major achievement list off to the CEO for approval. Once that has happened the charity will have a scaffolded copy of the organisations history that they can keep adding to, to ensure the charity continues to record the history of their great work in the future.
Australian Himalayan Foundation URL: http://www.australianhimalayanfoundation.org.au/

Sutherland District Cricket Club: Documenting the oral history of sport

Several years ago I stepped into the Sutherland District Cricket Club as one of many young players striving to work their way through the grades, eyes set on reaching the furthest heights of the sport. At that point Sutherland was just like any other club, we had our up and coming stars breaking onto the representative scene through state cricket and the Big Bash League, we had the more experienced players, captains in particular, that were passing down their experience, sharing their stories of that time they hit a ton or took a five wicket haul, and the young players, including myself, that were taking everything in. And all of that was normal. Today the situation at the club has drastically changed as we have been thrust into the media spotlight. This attention has come from the return of the ex-Australian cricket team captain Steve Smith, a Sutherland junior, to our club.
As a result of this the SDCC has stepped up its presence on social media, aligning with this explosion of media attention and interest following Smith’s return to the club and grade cricket in general. Having such a high profile player come to the club, alongside rising stars on the domestic cricket scene, and joining another former Australian team member in Shane Watson, has placed a massive amount of focus on the club at present, but not necessarily upon its past. With the club having a broader reach and impact on the public, particularly in the local community, there presented an opportunity to inject some history into the discussion and discourse surrounding the club, not to deduct attention from the present, but to give people an understanding of how we got to where we are today, an insight into the path the club has taken to this point. Enter HSTY3902 and the major project. The timing was impeccable. My project was that opportunity to spark conversation over the history of the club, to tell the stories, the wild tales, the memories of great victories, or even memorable losses, that shaped the past of the SDCC and that are often contained only within an oral tradition between players, in team talks in the sheds after a match, or over a beer at the clubhouse, none of which was ever documented to share within our community. What history was being lost? This was the main question that my project was striving to answer.
Anna Clark (2016) identified the unfortunate paradox of public history in Australia, that we all share an enthusiasm to look back at our past, but that we do not truly engage with or connect to any historical narrative; she questions whether the idea of the past within the discipline of history matters to the general public. This was a concern that arose quite early in the project; what is ‘history’ within this community, and what ‘history’ matters to the club? I could not take a solely academic approach to my work with the organisation, but aspects to the discipline would still be essential. In a sense I needed to change the way I thought about history to a perception more alike to Martha Sears’ (2013) notion of history as a dynamic, holistic ecosystem that breaks down the barriers of popular/public and academic histories, and instead looks at the discipline as interconnected ideas. What mattered to the club were the stories of hardship, teamwork, victory and loss that drives the deep club culture, thus my task is to bring together some of those stories and document them so that they are not lost.
The path of my project was clear. I wanted to document some of the oral history of the club, to take the oral tradition of telling our past, but adapt it to continue passing on the stories of the past to the new players of the club in the form of video interviews, considering how our current world relies so heavily upon social media platforms to communicate information. This process however was not simple or short in any aspect. Planning when to conduct the interviews proved a difficult task initially, schedules not aligning until only a few weeks before the project was due. However this did provide an opportunity for me to develop a better understanding of how to shape my interviews and what history to consider in them.
The lightbulb moment during this development phase came late in the semester when we had a guest speaker, Tamsin Pietch, come to the class and share her thoughts and processes regarding podcasts. Tamsin spoke of the concept of the “‘e’ loop” in how we develop a narrative within our interviews that acts to better our chance of engaging our audience in the history we are presenting. This concept follows that we begin our story somewhere in the middle before building some context back to this middle point, then travel onwards closer to the present. This made sense to me, and at a time where I was stuck on what questions I would ask my interviewees it was exactly what I needed to solidify my approach going into the final stages of the project. As a result the questions in my interview with Steve Rixon, one of the club’s former head coaches, followed the path below:
1. A memory that stands out to you on your time at the club, a match, or a season, or even a smaller moment in time.
2. How we get there, go back further, tracing how we got to that point, when your involvement with the club first started and your journey (and the club’s journey) to this memory.
3. Anything notable that happened after at the club while you were still coaching, and what you see for the future of the club with the current players and up and coming.
A late addition to the interview saw the club treasurer Tom Iceton come in to answer some questions more specifically regarding the beginnings of the club, its main oval and clubhouse, history that not many of the current player group had been told before. What I learnt from these interviews was more than I had predicted, the past of our club held its surprises as I hope it will for other young players at the club and members within our community when they get to watch and listen to some of the history of the SDCC contained in these short interviews which are to be shared on our various social media accounts over the coming weeks. There is much more left to explore, however I hope my project will spark some interest into the club’s past and its journey to where it is today.