Pondering Public History

Before I started the HSTY3902 unit, when I thought about public history I often discounted its validity because I believed museums and other historical spaces only showed the public the stories/images of the past they desired to remember or commemorate. However, one particular reading from the unit has managed to change my perspective. Thomas Cauvin’s article ‘Shared Authority’ highlights that public history has the possibility to be more than just an arena to unquestionably celebrate/commemorate victories and tragedies. In Cauvin’s article I like the idea that “…historians should strive to understand [the past] as it really was, not as what people want it to be, and by doing so should endeavour to create a space for discussion about the past”.
As many are aware, there are multiple perspectives and interpretations of the past and each need to be heard, discussed and analysed in order to create a truer picture of history. Only by allowing public audiences to see and hear multiple voices, including those which juxtapose to their own experiences or views, can there ever be a ‘shared authority’ of the past between historians and different groups and individuals of the public. If only one story is ever told from a singular point of view, it can ever only feel owned from a small fragment of society.

Liverpool U3A – Combining Learning with Leisure

The community group I am working with is the University of the Third Age (U3A) in Liverpool NSW. U3A is a non-profit movement that operates nationally and internationally designed for people over the age of 50. Any senior can become a member, whether you live in the local area or not and you do not need to be a pensioner to join. Members of the organisation simply pay a small annual fee to gain access to a whole bunch of educational and leisure activities (most at no extra cost and no assignments or exams).
To provide insight into the extensive range of classes available, listed below is the program of the many classes members of Liverpool U3A had the opportunity to attend during Term 3 of 2016 (the U3A program is divided into 4 terms per year where adjustments may be made for different classes depending on various factors).
~ Art Appreciation ~ China/Porcelain Painting (Beginner/Advanced) ~ Computer (Beginner/Intermediate)
~ Computer: Q and A ~ Computer: Internet ~ Computer: Scanning ~ Creative Writing ~ Enjoy Reading
~ Euchre ~ French (Beginner/Intermediate) ~ Gadgets for Seniors ~ History ~ Meditation
~ Oil and Acrylic Painting ~ Patchwork ~ Walking Group ~ Water Colour: Painting/Drawing/Mixed Media
~ Yogalates
The motivation for choosing Liverpool U3A for my public history project was inspired by my Grandmother. She has been attending the organisation for nearly 15 years, after the loss of my Grandfather in 2001. Her neighbours who already attended encouraged her to go and try out some of the classes. Today she currently attends multiple classes, is the French tutor for the beginner and intermediate classes and is one of the committee members on the Board.
I feel so passionate about this organisation because I have personally seen how much interest and joy it has added to my grandmother’s life (she barely has time to ring her grandchildren!). I want to show others in the community what a fantastic job this organisation does at empowering seniors and providing them with a place to continue to live life to the fullest both educationally and socially.
For more information, you can visit their website: http://www.liverpoolu3a.com.au