Journey Through the Museum: A History of RPA

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”
So goes L.P. Hartley’s famous opening line from his novel, The Go-Between, a line that wistfully reflects on those characteristics of history which often cause it to elude us. History is distant and intangible, governed by different moralities; sometimes, it is a land lost entirely to us. In attempting to write history, historians will inevitably find themselves occupying the shoes of someone long gone, walking their path and breathing in their air, asking aloud, “What would they have done?”, “What would they have wanted to do?”, and of course, that everlasting, eternal question: “What happened?” Hartley’s quip about history is one that I have loved for many years, and perhaps it is no surprise that the project I have completed over the course of this semester derives a great deal of inspiration from it. But, in a way that I never would have expected, my project handles his conception of the past, as a ‘foreign country’, in an incredibly literal way.
Over the last three months, I have been volunteering for the Heritage Centre, Museum and Archives at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. The project that I have created as a result of my volunteering is a children’s programme for the RPA Museum, consisting of both an activity booklet, and a guided tour. The activity booklet, complete with illustrations and questions that the children will have to answer, interacts with a series of ‘checkpoints’ throughout the museum, marking objects or information of significance. It is at these checkpoints where the children will be able to find answers to the questions in their booklet, or fill in any missing information that the booklet requires them to.
From the very beginning of my volunteering with the Heritage Centre, it was made clear to me that the hospital’s museum was struggling to attract visitors. Over the course of my stay, there could not have been more than about a dozen or so people who wandered in or asked about the items on display. The majority of my time at RPA was thus focused on archival research and organisation, writing and re-writing plaques for objects throughout the museum, and even designing a cabinet of my own. All the work I carried out, though incredibly varied, had a singular focus: to ensure that the rich, and interesting history of the hospital was actually being communicated to the public. My work was just one part of a significant shift taking place within the hospital walls, a move to celebrate the past in a visible, and most importantly accessible way.
Visibility and accessibility were, therefore, at the forefront of my mind when I was creating my project. RPA Museum had hosted children’s tours before, but the last time that they had conducted a guided tour for schoolkids was, as manager Scott informed me, three years ago. When I asked if I could have a look at the activity booklet they had provided, hoping I could have an example to look to, Scott handed me a stack of white A4 sheets stapled together at the corners, filled haphazardly with graphs and paragraphs of medical terminology in miniscule 11-point Calibri font. It was a little amusing to see a children’s history so opposite to the histories that I most commonly see scattered around museums and libraries. Often, I find that the children’s ‘versions’ of history are written somewhat condescendingly and in an overly simplistic way; but here, I was being faced with a written history that would make an academic weep.
What was obvious for me, from that point onwards, was that I had to maintain a crucial balance between making my history accessible, and ensuring that I didn’t speak down to my audience, who were most likely going to be upper-level primary school students. Using sources from the archives, such as the hospital’s annual reports and gazettes, I selected what I believed to be interesting or important, based on the selection of evidence in secondary novels written about the hospital’s history. I made sure that my histories were written in a congenial tone, and that the writing was not too verbose or complicated. Yet I also made an effort to allow room for the children themselves to learn or research the terms they didn’t understand, which resulted in the inclusion of an interactive glossary on the last page of the booklet.
I also tried to include as diverse a history as I could – not only of various buildings, and medical instruments, but focusing also on those histories which are often marginalised. In beginning the activity booklet with an Acknowledgement of Country, I drew on Nathan Sentance’s ideas on the importance of decolonising history. He posed us all a question that we should always consider when telling history: “What responsibility do we have, as non-indigenous historians, towards the communication of indigenous history?” In writing an explanation of the importance of an Acknowledgement of Country, as well as including a biography of Alison Bush, the first Indigenous midwife to be based at a major hospital in NSW, I hoped that I would be contributing to a socially inclusive history, and informing my young audience of the meaning of this reconciliation.
Of course, it is difficult to make history (and words in general) fun for children who detest nothing more than schoolwork. In searching for examples of children’s activity books and histories, I remembered all those that I myself had read as when I was younger. Terry Deary’s Horrible Histories, with all its fun facts and hilarious tidbits was my gateway into studying history all throughout my schooling years, and I wanted to emulate the light-hearted way in which he told stories about the past. I was also determined to include illustrations in my booklet, and there is no illustrator who defined my childhood as much as Quentin Blake. His messy, inky sketches, coloured free-hand with watercolour, decorated the pages of all my favourite Roald Dahl novels, and the illustrations that I have drawn in the activity booklet are very much influenced by Blake’s signature style.
And I also realised, in researching the presentation of my project that I could, very literally, as Hartley says, make the past a foreign country. Now, I’m not a mother, and I’ve never babysat in my entire life, but I am part of a huge family full of young children. If there is one thing I know, it is that children (of all ages, really) love to feel like they’re on a quest. My letter to the reader at the very beginning of the booklet structures the tour like a scavenger hunt, making what is in essence a history lesson, a dangerous exploration through a vast and unconquerable museum. Kathleen McLean’s Whose Questions, Whose Conversations? was a reading of ours that gave me much insight in this regard, and reminded me that in presenting merely cold, hard facts, I was going to exclude my audience from what was in actuality a collaborative learning experience.
My project had a singular objective: to convey the historical significance of Royal Prince Alfred hospital in an accessible, engaging and sustainable way. I hope that in the creation of this children’s programme, I have done my part in contributing to a history that is both charming and critical. In completing these booklets and taking them home, I hope that young visitors will find some joy in owning, and helping create, a small piece of the past.

Exploring Tamworth’s Past: A Guide to Researching Our Local History

This has been a challenging, yet also rewarding class experience. It was daunting at first to be thrown straight in with not many boundaries. It was something that I had not yet experienced in my degree. Yet, it was refreshing being able to choose my own project and the organisation that I volunteered with.
I hope the guide that I have created will be of benefit to people, whether they are in their twenties or their sixties who are in the early stages of their research into Tamworth’s history. Perhaps they have an idea, but do not know where to start searching for dates, sources, artefacts or contact details. My project can be used as a constant resource that they can come back to at anytime, and serve a number of different research avenues, whether it is Indigenous History, colonial history, family history or the history of local businesses. I have shaped the project to be appealing to people who do not have a historical background. In using a more informal and personal tone, the project is to be understandable to people from a variety of backgrounds and skill levels. I wanted to make it feel personal and that each of my audience to be engaging with both my and the organisations passion for Tamworth’s history. From conversations with friends and family, I understood that many of them engage with history when it is delivered in a personable and avant-garde way, whether that be through television, film, or a quirky article in the newspaper or on Facebook. This project is about local connections through a love of history and the Tamworth region. My tone and sometimes second person address is to make the audience feel welcome in their own research. I did not want it to sound like a dry history textbook, but something that plants a little seed of curiosity within the reader. Ultimately, my project was to inspire people into digging deeper into their local history. I wanted to craft a resource that would highlight some wonderful organisations around the Tamworth region who are dedicated to helping people investigate the city’s past and how they fit within it.
My final lines of my project read like this;
May this guide be the beginning of your research journey into Tamworth’s history. As it has been shown to you, there are a plethora of exciting historical moments that have happened in Tamworth’s past. History is thriving in this city, we just have to open our eyes and find it. Be inspired and affected by our city’s past and share your discoveries amongst the community.
Thank you again for a wonderful semester.

Reconceptualising history

“Forget academic history. Go out there, get alongside an organisation, listen to them, and co-construct a public history with them.”
If I were to synthesise the mantra of this unit of study to a lay person, this is how I’d go about it. In fact, when I shared it with people in my life, I’d usually start with “Screw academic history”. Perhaps this is a crude articulation of a more complex and thoughtful unit of study on engaging with ‘History Beyond the Classroom’. However, I think it aptly depicts the jarring provocation and passion that drove a group of 30-odd history students to shift their frames of reference and stretch their conceptualisation of history.
Through working with Parliament on King this semester, I have learnt that public history is a dynamic process that fluctuates and evolves, as the historian and the organisation seek to authentically collaborate and co-construct a shared history for the public. Through engaging with oral history at Parliament on King, I have learnt that the historian needs to throw away the notion of agenda-driven productivity, and take time to build relationships, listen, ask questions and be present. This project is significant as it complicates a linear and static depiction of history or way of remembering, which can so often dominate historical accounts, as it provides an alternative emphasis on experience, stories and narrative. The hope is that this podcast will provide a small scale, experiential representation of Parliament’s public history, rather than merely a linear depiction of Parliament’s historical timeline.
Parliament on King, myself as the student researcher and oral historian, and the wider community are likely to benefit from this project. Lorina Barker acknowledges that in trying to learn about other people’s ‘connections and disconnections to place’, the historian begins ‘their own journey of rediscovery and reconnection’. This reveals the mutual benefit of oral history and equalises the power dynamics that exist in the collection of oral histories, as both parties are recognised as learning, sharing and discovering. This is my hope for this project.
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On the Edge of the Reef: Our Stories

My project involved working with Northern Beaches Council to assist in delivering a series of heritage and arts activation events across the Northern Beaches local area as part of a unique program entitled Our Stories: Yesterday | Today | Tomorrow. This program, the first of its kind for the Northern Beaches local area, was conceived and implemented primarily by Bethany Falzon, Arts & Cultural Development Officer at Northern Beaches Council, along with the rest of the Social Planning & Community Development team. Support and funding for Our Stories came through the NSW Government’s new Heritage Near Me program aimed at increasing community awareness of and engagement with the diverse heritage found across NSW.
Our Stories involved a series of events at three locations across the Northern Beaches local area. Specifically, I was working on the site at Fisherman’s Beach, Collaroy. Sheltered on the northern side of Long Reef headland, nestled on the foreshore behind the tidal rock platforms, sits a heritage-listed Fisherman’s Hut. The Hut is almost 150 years old and, together with a collection of now-rusted winches scattered over the grassy sand dune, the last physical reminder of a small (and illegal) fishing community that became synonymous with the area, hence the name Fisherman’s Beach. Our Stories sought to explore the unique cultural and natural history of this littorally prominent place, using art and community involvement as ways to engage with these special heritage stories. The underlying argument was one of creative heritage conservation. Whilst the Hut itself (along with the surrounding landscape and vegetation) is heritage-listed and as such afforded a certain amount of legislative protection in terms of physical alterations and/or additions to its construction, this does not necessarily entail a strictly preservationist view. Moreover, by creatively engaging with the history of the Hut, Fisherman’s Beach, and the Long Reef headland area more broadly through the medium of artistic interpretation, the story of Fisherman’s Hut becomes situated as one story of many in a rich tapestry of local history, including natural history and Aboriginal heritage stories.
When researching for the project, evidence was scant. As this fishing community was technically an illegal setup there was little in the way of formal, official documentation to consider, save for a few notes in older Warringah Council documents referring to the ‘squatters’ at Fisherman’s Beach. I spent many days trawling online databases and even a visit to the State Library of NSW. The little evidence I did find mostly consisted of photographs of Fisherman’s Beach featuring the huts and boats. A substantial body of evidence came from Tony Davis, current President of the Long Reef Fishermen’s Club, the current owner/occupiers of the Hut, in the form of a loose-leaf folder containing assorted historical items relating to the Hut, including un-archived photographs, newspaper clippings, original heritage data forms and correspondence with Club members. These items were digitally scanned and used in the historical and artistic interpretation of the site. Additional evidence came when local artists Susan Milne and Greg Stonehouse conducted informal oral interviews and story-telling sessions with current members of the Fishermen’s Club. Aboriginal perspectives and stories were sourced from written and oral sources, including informal discussions with Karen Smith, Education Officer for the Northern Beaches branch of the Office of Aboriginal Heritage. Karen is from the Buruberongal clan of the Hawkesbury area and shared many stories about Aboriginal culture and heritage in the Long Reef area that helped to formulate the idea of a guided walking tour. Utilising these various sources, the project explored some complex themes including the overlap of art, history and community engagement in public forms of history and the idea of multiple historical stories existing within a single space.
The primary presentation of this public history project took the form of a community event held on 24th November 2018 at Fisherman’s Beach. This event featured a series of interpretive art installations by local artists Susan Milne and Greg Stonehouse exploring the history and heritage of the Fisherman’s Beach area and the fishing community in particular. This involved several days work prior cleaning out the hut and installing the artworks. I authored a short piece on the history and heritage of the Hut which was used as a temporary plaque mounted on the side of the Hut on the day of the event. The event also included two guided walking tours, one focusing on Aboriginal heritage stories and the other on the unique ecosystem of Long Reef headland and the tidal rock platform. Both were pre-registered tours, with 30-35 people partaking in each. In all, close to 100 people attended the event on the day either as registered participants or as ‘walk-ins’. Cursory feedback on the day was overwhelmingly positive, with many people confessing they had little knowledge of the unique cultural and natural history of this iconic Northern Beaches location – and many just admitting ‘I’ve always wondered what’s inside there’ when exploring the Hut itself. This community event helped to open up and shed light on the unique stories of Fisherman’s Beach and Long Reef.
The event having taken place, the Hut has since been returned to its former state. I spent a day finalising de-installation, moving items and general ‘stuff’ of the Fishermen’s Club back into the Hut. The ephemeral artworks are gone. The historical plaques have been removed. Now it is as if nothing ever happened at the Hut on Fisherman’s Beach. But of course that is just not true. Our Stories will linger.
History can be a lot like fishing. I know that now. You can spend an age doing nothing but looking, searching, trawling to find what you need, or what you think you need. It can be exhausting work, all the while asking those questions tinged with self-doubt and uncertainty: ‘what if I don’t catch anything? Should I just call it a day?’
In the end, it’s not really about whether or not you catch anything. As a historian working on this project, my job was never to write the definitive history of Fisherman’s Beach. No, my job as a historian wasn’t to catch a fish necessarily, but instead to ‘go fishing’, to see what I could find.
What I found on Fisherman’s Beach wasn’t at all what I expected. But I’m so glad I went fishing there.
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ATOUR*- A Story About a Forgotten Empire

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Enter the Assyrian Universal Alliance’s office and the first thing you will notice is a proud gallery of achievements, trophies, Parliamentary awards, cultural art, sculptures and a heritage flag that was only officially recognised one year ago. Once you’ve managed to stop your eyes from wandering around the room and remind yourself that you’re being rude since you haven’t even been welcomed in yet, you won’t help but notice that sitting behind a desk with towers of paperwork and a laptop screen covering their faces are the leaders of probably the most humbling NGO you could ever come across. Probably a subjective opinion, I know, since I’m an Assyrian myself, but hey, at least they didn’t think I was rude for barging in without an invitation to enter! Instead, I was greeted with a loud, “Shlamalakh” (meaning “peace upon you” in Assyrian) and 2 welcoming smiles. I knew, then, that I hadn’t broken any silent rule and wasn’t going to be left feeling ashamed. No. I was just being an Assyrian– curious and nosy. And, I suppose it took this project for me to actually appreciate and value my ethnicity as one without a country but definitely one with a rich history and a LONG list of achievements.
And that’s exactly what I put together for the AUA- Australian Chapter. The AUA was established exactly 50 years ago with the intent to represent the Assyrian diaspora which had fled their homeland of Iraq following countless persecutions, unrecognised genocides and discriminatory treatment from tyrannical regimes and oppressive forces. But I knew this already. I didn’t think there was anything special to it since I had grown up listening to the same old, sad, depressing stories of genocide from my parents and other older relatives. However, what I had failed to realise from all of this was just how controversial my mere existence as an Assyrian is. And I have the AUA to thank, for opening my ignorant eyes to this realm of endless impossibilities and exciting chaos. Happy to help and always beaming, they extended their resources, including newspaper clippings, photos from the 60s to the present and even private minutes from Congress meetings. It was hard work collating all these sources, sorting them out into a logical timeline that would provide thorough yet succinct detail about the AUA’s achievements. There were days where the “information overload” of it all would get too much but I had to remind myself of why I chose to assist this organisation in the first place. And, no, it had nothing to do with them being Assyrian. Well, kind of.
In a FaceBook post published by the AUA, a “troll” had commented, attempting to squash the AUA organisation into a pulp for being “useless” and ineffective. I responded. And it wasn’t pretty. But I did want to make the point clear that the AUA was working and working very hard, indeed, to voice the concerns of the Assyrian community and urge the Australian government to take action. But I didn’t really have the facts. I only wrote down what I had heard from my family. And it was this specific event which had made me immediately think of the AUA when Professor McDonnell informed us that we would need to choose one NGO and help them out. So, I suppose in helping the AUA out I was actually helping myself out in the process.
Well, after many late, tiresome nights in my room, laying on the floor with my notes and sources (and not to mention that cold cup of tea that lays there sadly forgotten), I was able to produce a not-so-very-humble, 15-paged document of the lists of the AUA’s achievements and history. With this, I hope to show whoever stumbles upon my project that the AUA is useful, is effective and is constantly seeking for new ways that could benefit their community while also facing denigration from all sorts of platforms imaginable.
It has been an absolute honour working with the AUA team and I daresay that I will be continuing my work with them as we aim to upload my work onto their website before the end of this year. With this information on their site, we hope to publicise and, perhaps, memorialise a history of a forgotten empire that continues to take out breaths and breathe in new ones to this day.
*ATOUR is Assyrian for Assyria

Journey’s End

I first thought of writing this project like a story when I saw how many news articles were attached to BMYS. It was clear that people liked reading and hearing stories about the organisation.
It has been a great semester and, admittedly, I have probably spent more time working and helping the organisation itself than thinking about my project. But this time hasn’t been for naught. It’s been valuable and has contributed to how I’ve thought about my project as a whole. For example, even though the interviewees are all adult subjects, I have tried my best to keep the project as youth-centric as possible. This is evident through the many stories about the youth.
The main challenge was getting numerous interviews to be consistent since there were always multiple perspectives on one event. But the main joy of this was to see that everyone had their own individual experience even though events were shared. This also forms the backbone of my project which recollects dialogue and memories. What went really well was also the main challenge, which was the interviews. I think that these were difficult logistically as well—it was difficult to track down people who were involved with the organisation from decades earlier.
Overall, I feel that it has achieved its main outcome with reaching a wide audience in the local area. It has been such a long journey and I appreciate all the support which I’ve been given through the community organisation and through class. I will remain connected with this organisation in the years to come.

Queer Screen Film Festival Archive

I am very relieved to have come to the end of this project. This project, which was the archiving of Queer Screen’s past film festivals between 1995 and 2010 was far more difficult and time consuming than I had initially thought. There were many issues along the way: some catalogues would not fit in the printer in the correct manner, my computer struggled to cope with the size of the different files and someone about half of my scans less than a week before the project due date. Despite these challenges, however, the project is finally completed.
When I commenced this project, I could not help but feel slightly concerned that it was not sophisticated enough. Unlike writing an essay, scanning documents does not involve much critical thinking. However, after I submitted the project proposal, I realised that the sophistication in this project does not lie in the process of creation, much like an essay, but rather in the manner in which it will be consumed by a public audience. This notion is expressed in Private Lives, Public History by Anna Clark. The German theorist, Jörn Rüsen coined the term ‘historical consciousness’ which Clark describes as being the manner in which people ‘engage with, and make, history’. An archive does not serve the same purpose as an essay, which is the product of someone’s historical consciousness. Rather, an archive is there to provide the backdrop for historical consciousness to occur: archives allow people to find historical information, see it in its originality and inspire some form of historical consciousness in those who view it.
With this in mind, there was some room for creativity and originality. I was required to write a brief description to accompany each year’s festival. These descriptions each were required to contain at least one to two descriptions of significant films from that year and, when available, information on the venues, growth of the festival compared to other years and popularity of certain films and programs. These descriptions hopefully have contextualised the festivals and highlighted some significant moments from each year thus providing more historical meaning to the archive.
The archive itself is presented on Queer Screen’s website and is placed along side their already existing archive of 2011 film festivals to the 2018 film festivals (see However, unlike the recent catalogues in the archive, the sixteen years which I have added to the archive are all scans of original documents, meaning that the presentation of the catalogues are noticeably different from some of the more recent ones. Despite this, however, the archive is still accessible to the public and easy to locate on their website. It is also easily sustainable; in future years, new catalogues can be added without jeopardising the presentation of the archive and the accessibility of it too.
I hope ultimately that it will be a significant piece of public history. Queer Screen is becoming a popular organisation in the queer community and their Mardi Gras Film Festival has become one of the highlights of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras each year. As the festivals become more popular and attract larger audiences each year the need to have an archive that documents the growth and changing nature of the festival becomes more important.

From one generation to another

The Austolian Youth Association (AYA) was a wonderful organisation to collaborate with to complete my final project. As I delved into the project itself, I found that my original plans for my final product had changed. The initial online, qualitative questionnaire I created, which did not end up in the final project, still guided me in the creation of the open-ended interviews I conducted. The results from the questionnaire, coupled with the videos I gathered over the course of my interactions with the organisation, contributed to the promotional video I created for AYA’s website.
Through analysing the responses of the qualitative questionnaires that I had conducted, the cultural, social, and historical value of this organisation to the Turkish community was hugely evident. Most members described their early introduction and interactions with Turkish cultural history, and they noted going to Turkish school on Saturday mornings. However, they stated that they valued the nature of AYA, due to its social fluidity. They suggested that they didn’t feel like the cultural or historical aspects were forced upon them, rather, they were integrated within the dance lessons themselves, making it less rigid, and more fun. Members of the group also described how the AYA allowed them to strengthen their sense of self and identity, as they were not only able to learn about their culture, they were spending more time interacting with people of the same background, and strengthening their language skills. One member noted that in the geographical area that they live in, there is hardly a Turkish population, therefore they enjoyed coming to class to listen to Turkish music, learn about the historical and cultural significance of the dances, and talk in Turkish with their peers. Additionally, the AYA’s participation in not only Turkish festivals, but also international festivals, provides members opportunities to share their culture whilst interacting with others.
This project reaffirmed my understandings of local history, and the agency (and sometimes lack of agency) the community has in the manner of the way their history is viewed and distributed. The AYA begun when the director noticed a disconnect between Turkish-Australian youth and the older generations of their family. Therefore, in the creation and maintenance of this organisation, in addition to their historical contribution to festivals, they are shaping the way in which Turkish historical culture is understood and consumed within the community. Especially through the act of combining art, dance, music, food and historical knowledge in festivals such as the “Taste of Turkey” festival in October this year.
The short video was intended to act as an addition to the “About us” section of the AYA website, as an informational video for future potential members and sponsors. The video follows AYA at two of their major cultural events, and incorporates the integral interviews that highlight the historical significance of the organisation for its members, directors, sponsors, and the Turkish community. Initially, I had decided on creating a physical brochure in conjunction with the video, however, AYA does not hold frequent information evenings, therefore, I thought it would be more beneficial to compose a short, informational video for the official website. It is direct in exploring the work the organisation does, and how the members feel their identities fit within that creative space.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience reconnecting with AYA again, especially as the little bits and pieces unravelled towards the larger project. This project reaffirmed my understanding of the significance of creating and maintaining a collective historical and cultural narrative for developing both a personal identity, and a group one.

Brick by Brick: Constructing a Digital Archive about Heritage Housing for Waverley Library

As I was cataloguing a particularly dusty set of Photographic Archival Recordings, I came across a report completed for my old high-school. Naturally curious, I spent a little extra time reading the history of the buildings I once knew to be the Visual art and Design and Technology rooms, a place I had spent countless hours over my seven years of education there. In reading this report, I came to discover that this building was purchased by the school in the 1980s but until that point, had housed what had been known as the ‘Oddfellows Society’, a group of workers and merchants and their families who compiled money and resources together as a contingency should any hardship arise. I was particularly affected by this report, namely by the manner in which myself and my own community was connected to the distant yet ever present remnants of another. This served as a turning point for me, for I began to see an intricate tapestry of interwoven stories and lived experiences that connected my life, my reality and my story to those of bygone eras. Surprisingly, the thread of this tapestry was the buildings history had left behind and the reports that wrote about them.
My initial perception of this project with both Waverley Library’s Local Studies Centre and Waverley Council Chambers was centred on the idea that I would be handling largely objective and entirely factual assessments about old buildings. This has not only proven fantastically false, but has rather enlightened me to the rich, varied and expansive historical narrative that exists in my local area. This imbued my task of archiving the expression of such narratives- the reports and assessments of these buildings- with a sense of gravitas, for my work and my influence was to play a significant role in the writing and preserving of the Waverley Council District’s history.
These ponderings solidified my understanding of the significance that libraries play in local historiography, for I came to realise that archiving became a key means through which historical preservation occurred. As a convenient, multifaceted and educational tool that allows the Waverley Library historical collection to be easily conveyed to the public, the archive provided the autonomy necessary for me to shape the historical narrative conveyed to the Waverley community. This meant that consideration for the user served as the centre of all decisions regarding the design of my archive.
Thus, the focus of my project has not so much been the reports themselves, but the buildings that these reports discuss, for the intended audience of this archive shall be Waverley residents, whether that be amateur historians or home-owners who require knowledge about the history of their homes (to satisfy curiosity or to fulfill council requirements for intended modifications or demolitions of heritage housing). As this audience may be unfamiliar with heritage housing policy or using archives, categorisation has directly correlated each house with its heritage classification, so as to expedite the ascertaining of the information required by the user. In regards to the organisation of the physical reports, I have filed them according to suburb so as to match the archive created, making reports easier to find whilst also revealing to audiences the general trends of development that had occurred in the area (for example, one wishing to learn about 69 Ruthven Street could compare this site with other buildings on the street and thus discover that many houses here were built in the Late Victorian style. From there, one may extrapolate ideas about the development of housing on that street). I have also made note of the existence of digital copies of the reports catalogued, something which assists Waverley Library in their ongoing endeavour to digitise their collection, but will also allow consumers of the archive the ability to access such files when the archive is eventually made digitally available.
Unavoidably however, arose questions and limitations regarding technology, for many of these reports did not include a corresponding digital file. Thus, digitisation became another concern for this project, more centrally, the need for Waverley Library to preserve its collection through its digitisation, playing technological “catch-up” as it battles to keep up-to-date in a world where technological advancements quickly makes past technological modes of storage redundant. Through my digitisation of these reports, I also discovered that archiving provides an invaluable yet systematic (and therefore highly useful) opportunity for digitisation to occur, becoming a crucial and effective technique for preservation that combats the redundancy of outdated technology.
On a note of personal reflection, this project has also greatly enlightened me to the significance libraries play in broader local historiography. When reading reports such as that about my old high- school, the pub that my friend currently works at, even something as mundane as the tunnels at Bondi Beach, I have come to learn about how my personal narrative has been built upon a grander and long-running story. Waverley Library’s role in cataloguing these reports thus takes on an almost sacred quality, for they are the gate-keepers to local knowledge about the past, and actively work to continually build a repository that preserves such stories for the unwitting patrons that they serve. For other locals within the Waverley council area, I hope this archive shall serve as the contents page in the book about their own stories and communities, or mayhaps even (if one may indulge me this metaphorical pun), the door that serves as the entrance to the house of this community’s history.

Ku-Ring-Gai Historical Society

I decided to complete my historical work with the Ku-Ring-Gai Historical Society; the local history hobby group of the area I have lived in my entire life. My Initial work started as the group teaching me their own methods of research; combining personal accounts mostly and existing history with things such as land history and ownership records, images, online map databases (predominantly SixMaps), census details via the Ryerson Index, and existing online databases such as Trove to slowly piece together information to understand and produce history. A wealth of resources- the Society was very keen that I pursue personal interest in my research-that being WWI and WWII. A testament to their dedication and knowledge, the group had just produced a multi-volume publication about WWI soldiers from Ku-Ring-Gai, so I decided to focus my attention on WWII. After a brief search on the council website showed a simple one line mention to community groups during the war; I was prompted to question- given the sheer significance of the War and the rightful honoring of those Australians who fought overseas, shouldn’t those whom contributed in other ways back on the Home Front be recognized too? Thus I set out to produce a piece discovering how the people of Ku-Ring-Gai during World War Two contributed to the War Effort.
I did encounter the challenge of a lack of information; the initial goal of interviewing those whom experienced it proved impossible due to no records of the individuals of each community group, which is why I relied a lot on the Historical Society’s property records that mentioned various War-groups in descriptions of past residents. Many past society articles and documents also mentioned groups and people briefly- which is why I was able to focus on combining many of these existing resources to produce an article that was more coherent and in depth of all the groups; which then enabled me to make sense of all the online and independent sources.
Rather than a solid essay; I decided to produce my piece as an article- making it shorter and more interesting, I was challenged to write it in a more relaxed and passionate way, definitely a change from my standard history essays where I jam as much information in as possible! I followed the standard format of the Historical Society’s Articles which go into their monthly newsletter and annual publication- The Historian- allowing them to take maximum benefit if they would like to use my work in that way or add it to their online database. Presenting a shorter work, combined with images; makes the article easier and more enjoyable to read for the general public; whom it is designed for; as I aim to make the hard work and spirit of those who worked tirelessly in the War known not just to a select few but to everyone as their honor deserves.
In this work- I was drawn to something that wasn’t initially in my plans for this course. I spoke to A lovely woman who was also doing her research at the same times I was, who was there sacrificing her own time and effort in order to save a house next door which has been sold and is being planned for demolition by overseas developers. Knowing the beauty and uniqueness of this area, it would be devastating to lost some of the historic houses after so many have already been lost to concrete monstrosities. This is where I developed the side idea of writing a small piece about the work of the society- as a way to highlight from my end the resources of it, get a perspective from people within the society, and also record Edwinas work as a way to preserve it; as I feel that history in Ku-Ring- Gai is under threat and this must be better acknowledged and known about. This article will be written so that it can be used by the society in terms of advertising and sharing their work; and I am hoping it could potentially be used by the Library and shared among their resources.
Thus, I have created 2 articles- one to be used by the society and the other for the society- and both to be used for the general public to gain awareness of two issues which I feel are of upmost importance, one being honoring those throughout recent history whom have given so much, and preserving this history for future generations so that it can be acknowledged how significant the past is to our current world and honor the past by keeping this alive. No matter the academic result of these articles, I can safely say I had an extremely enlightening experience, and this is definitely only the beginning of my time with the Ku-Ring-Gai Historic Society- and I cant wait to see what articles and histories I can research next, and hopefully get better each time!