‘Going Platinum: Australian responses to the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, 1952-2022′

An international online conference via Zoom

Modern Monarchy in Global Perspective Network

University of Sydney, Australia, 20-22 June 2022

The year 2022 marks the 70th anniversary, or Platinum Jubilee, of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne. Since 1952 the Queen has reigned over Australia as well as several other realms beyond Britain, and to this day serves as Head of State. For many Australians, Elizabeth II is the only monarch they have ever known, with her profile, name or initials seen every day on coins, banknotes, stamps, postboxes, hospitals and government documents. Ever since her blockbuster first Australian tour in 1954, Australians have flocked to see the Queen and her family members on numerous royal visits, and many have eagerly followed her progress here and elsewhere in the press. But these visits have also drawn protest and debate over Australia’s constitutional position. Republicans have argued that the monarchy is outdated, irrelevant and unrepresentative of our modern, multicultural nation, while some Indigenous Australians have appealed to the Queen to redress their legal, constitutional and social disadvantage.

From 20-22 June 2022, the Modern Monarchy in Global Perspective network will host an international online conference examining Australian responses to the reign of Elizabeth II in the period 1952-2022. The conference seeks to recover antipodean perspectives on the British monarchy, including Indigenous perspectives. The conference will explore three streams:

1) Constitutional and political implications: What constitutional and political implications does the reign of Queen Elizabeth II have for Australia, both to date and in the future?

2) Material Culture: How do individual objects, the everyday as well as ceremonial, tell the story of Australian responses to the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, 1952-2022?

3) Media and Popular Memory: How have Australian individuals and communities ‘seen’ and responded to Queen Elizabeth II, 1952-2022?

Conference presentations will take the form of EITHER:

1) 20-minute conference papers presented live on ZOOM in panels of up to three papers per panel
2) Roundtable presentation of 3-6 presenters discussing ONE element of one of the above themes

Please send a 300-word abstract of individual paper proposals (500-word for panel or roundtable proposals) along with names, contact addresses and brief biographies of all presenters to Cindy McCreery at: cindy.mccreery@sydney.edu.au by 1 December 2021.

Image: National Museum of Australia https://collectionsearch.nma.gov.au/icons/piction/kaui2/index.html#/home?usr=CE&umo=23122963

Farewell to Dr. Thomas Adams

On Wednesday, September 7, 2021, Dr. Thomas Adams spoke about his role in the Street Re-Naming Commission in New Orleans in the Department of History’s “In Print and in Prospect” seminar series. The Department also bid farewell to Thomas as his resignation brought to an end six years of service at the University of Sydney.

Colleague and friend, Associate Professor Frances Clarke, took the opportunity to say a few words about Thomas’ tenure at Sydney, and his many contributions the Department.

Here is a transcript of Associate Professor Clarke’s speech:

It’s striking to think that Thomas only started work at the University of Sydney in 2014. That means that it has only been 6 years between his arrival here, and his return to the US, right before the pandemic hit. For those 6 years, he worked in both the History Department and the U.S. Studies Center. Given that Thomas worked across these two locations, you might not be aware of all he was during this short period. I’d like to spend a few moments acknowledging some of that work, because it’s a remarkable record. I’ll start with teaching.

From arrival to departure, Thomas taught 12 unique first- and second-year units:

At first year:

Lincoln to Obama

History Workshop: Chicago 1968

At second and third year:

American Social Movements

The History of Capitalism

History and Historians

African American History and life

Law and Order in American History

New Orleans: Disaster, Culture and Identity

The American Studies Capstone Seminar

Foreign Policy, Americanism and Anti-Americanism

Latin American Revolutions

Unnatural Disasters

Some of these were history courses, and others were taught through the U.S. Studies Center. They equate to 2 new units every single semester he was here—a record that is unmatched by any other academic I know. It speaks to Thomas’s breadth of interests and versatility, not to mention his willingness to step into whatever roles needed filling.

In addition to this teaching, he was helping to train our postgraduate students. In 2014, not long after his arrival, he and I ran an American Studies seminar for history graduate students. The following year, we ran a graduate seminar in Historiography and Historical Thought. Then, the next year and the one after, we taught the Finishing the Thesis seminar together. Occasionally, Thomas also ran ad hoc professionalisation seminars for our postgrad students. I watched him in these classes and got to know him well. He was ever whip-smart and inspiring. He enjoyed teaching students—and it showed.

Did Thomas ever seem a bit distracted or frazzled when you ran into him in the hallways? He had plenty on his mind. Let me note a few of the other activities that he was doing for us over those years.

For 2016 and 2017, he worked with me as the History postgraduate coordinator—back then, the largest service role in the department. But, at the same time, he held the position of the Academic Director of the USSC. This is a massive role, equivalent to being department chair, encompassing negotiating staffing contracts, helping set curriculum, and dealing with various issues related to the financing of the Center.

At the same time, he was supervisor or associate supervisor or 5 postgraduate students—most of whom have now finished or are about to do so.

Each year of his tenure here, he also gave a large public lecture. And practically every week he was on radio or TV, discussing American politics (he actually made more than 100 TV and radio appearances in the first 4 years of his work here). At the same time, he was writing for important online fora—including the New Matilda, Jacobin, ABC Online, the Huffington Post, the Australian, CommonDreams, and more.

He was, of course, engaged in academic writing as well—on a book, The Servicing of America: Work and Inequality in the Modern US; an edited collection, Remaking New Orleans: Beyond Exceptionalism and Authenticity, which came out with Duke in 2019, and a range of special issues, book chapters, and articles—15 of these published between 2014 and 2019 to be precise.

From a purely selfish perspective, one of my favourite things that Thomas did while he was here was to connect Americanists in the Southern hemisphere in a way we hadn’t been connected before. Along with Sarah Gleeson-White in the English Department, he applied for a major grant through the Faculty Collaborative Research Scheme, to create the American Cultures Workshop. They located everyone working on any aspect of America, set up a monthly seminar series, and paid to have speakers present work-in-progress. This ran (under new leadership) until the pandemic hit, and it was an unprecedented success. It was particularly helpful, I think, in providing opportunities for our postgraduate students—to give papers; to meet others in the field; to make new colleagues and friends.

Thomas is an enormous loss to the University of Sydney. I will miss Thomas because he was always interesting to talk to. He truly cared for our students. He’s a gadfly—willing to provoke the powers that be. Unsurprisingly, he inspired then. He’s an iconoclast—never just mouthing the latest theories (although he knows them all). He thinks for himself. He’s not just thoughtful, but also irreverent, funny, and warm. We swapped as many cat memes as we did teaching ideas or thoughts about history. He taught me a great deal while he was here, and although I know we’ll stay connected, it won’t be the same.

I’ll add that it is totally typical of Thomas to show up and give a brilliant paper in the immediate aftermath of a devastating hurricane, while looking like he’s doing nothing out of the ordinary. And it’s equally typical for this paper to be about the public and political function of history—on a project that drew in our students and helped them to see what difference history can make in the world beyond the University. This paper spoke more eloquently than anything else of exactly what we’re losing—a remarkable intellect, an engaged teacher, and a wonderful colleague.

The Department of History wishes Thomas all the best in his (many) future endeavours.

Second New Appointment in History

From Professor Kirsten McKenzie, Chair History Department

We are delighted to announce that Dr Roberto Chauca Tapia has accepted a continuing position in the Department of History. We hope he can take up his position in January 2022, although his exact arrival depends upon the schedule of Australia’s reopening of its international border to overseas entries.

Dr Chauca is currently a member of the Department of Anthropology, History, and Humanities at FLACSO (Faculdad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Sede Ecuador) in Quito, Ecuador. He received his PhD from the University of Florida in 2015, with a dissertation titled “Science in the Jungle: Missionary Cartographic and Geographic Production of Early Modern Western Amazonia.” Before arriving at FLACSO, he taught both in Florida and at the Universidade de Brasília, in Brazil. He teaches Indigenous, colonial, and contemporary Latin America, nationalisms, histories of knowledge, and histories of science. His research focuses on the history of early modern Amazonia, Indigenous knowledge-making, cartography, Jesuit and Franciscan science, and environmental histories of the Amazon river.

In a career that has spanned several continents and multiple languages, Dr Chauca brings a range of experiences to deploy in public engagement in Indigenous histories, environment, and science. His imaginative range of teaching and research will contribute new and valuable perspectives to the History Department, and we are excited about the role he will play in the future of both History and International and Global Studies.

We look forward to welcoming Roberto to Sydney.

Many thanks


Professor Kirsten McKenzie  FAHA FRHistS
Department of History| School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry    

History on Wednesday Seminar Series

School of Philosophical and Historial Inquiry
Department of History

The University of Sydney

HoW | History on Wednesday Seminar series
Semester 2, 2021

We hope you will join us for our lastest HoW seminar series.
All seminars will be held on Zoom, commencing at 12:10pm.

Please Note: Abstracts, Zoom details and calendar invites will be sent out prior to each seminar.

25 August | Hélène Sirantoine “Serendipitous findings: about the unexpected appearance of a daughter of King Arthur in a thirteenth-century piece of Spanish hagiography”

22 September | Deirdre O’Connell “Biography in a digital age: recovering the lives of a band of black traveling performing artists in interwar Europe” 

20 October | Pamela Maddock
“Corporal punishment and disease control in the antebellum US army: the case of Captain Sykes, 1853”

1604 treaty between Henri IV of France and Ottoman sultan Ahmed I
Wednesday 3 November | Darren Smith Le monde est un logement d’etrangers: a French diplomat in the seventeenth-century Mediterranean”

You can sign up to History on Wednesday at the SOPHI event registration page. Find out more at the SOPHI Events page.The seminar series convenor is Hélène Sirantoine | Click here to email

How was it really? | History podcasts

Why not subscribe to the Department of History’s podcast series
How was it really?‘ on Soundcloud.

    The University of Sydney

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Study History in Semester 2

The University of Sydney

Travel in time and space with the Department of History in 2021
We have a range of exciting options in second semester taught by world-class experts in their fields. Find out more about today’s world by studying and understanding its past. Below are just a few of our offerings.

Semester 2 2021
HSTY2606: China’s Last Dynasty: The Great Qing
Explore a broad sweep of China’s history, from the seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries in HSTY2606 China’s Last Dynasty: The Great Qing with Dr David Brophy. An influential historian, public intellectual and activist, David has just published China Panic: Australia’s Alternative to Paranoia and Pandering

HSTY2647: Renaissance Italy
Wishing you could be in Florence? Let Associate Professor Nick Eckstein, internationally recognized authority on all things Renaissance, from art to plague, be your guide. Sign up for HSTY2647: Renaissance Italy and witness the extraordinary cultural flowering that occurred in Italy between the 14th and the 16th centuries.  

HSTY2652: Genocide in Historical Perspective
Dr Marco Duranti
, leading historian of human rights, teaches HSTY2652: Genocide in Historical Perspective. Why do genocides occur? Was imperialism genocidal? Is there such a thing as ‘cultural genocide’? We tackle these controversies – and much more – through a survey of the global history of genocide from the nineteenth century to the present.

HSTY2677: Australia: Politics and Nation 
Are we an ‘independent’ nation? Staying closer to home, in HSTY2677 Australia: Politics and Nation, Professor James Curran (together with Dr Ryan Cropp) take us on a journey from the colonial period to the present, raising the questions of political culture and nationalism we still wrestle with today. A leading scholar of politics and foreign relations, James is a regular public commentator and a columnist in the Australian Financial ReviewRead Professor Curran’s latest article here.)

If you are interested in these units and don’t meet the pre-requisites, you can submit an “enrolment exception request” via Sydney Student

What about a first year July Intensive to fast-track your degree?

HSTY1089: Introduction to Australian History

Australia has been called the ‘quiet continent’, but conflict has been part of its history since 1788. This unit examines the violence of convict society, frontier conflict and early battles for self-government. It maps the political struggles, contested stories and shifts in Indigenous-settler relations that accompanied the creation of a nation state after 1880, and explores the effects of war on different social groups. Finally, it charts Australia’s cultural and political transformation after 1945 into the postindustrial postcolonial society of today.

Watch this video to find out more about HSTY1089!

Find out more about the Department of History’s offerings, a major in History, degree progresssion, Honours, and much more!  Our Department guide has the most up-to-date information on units of study on offer. If you have any queries about units of study, please contact the unit coordinator or the SOPHI Office. E | sophi.enquiries@sydey.edu.au

Interested in where a Major in History can take you? Each year we run a session where students can hear from graduates from the Department to learn about making the transition from university to the job market. Check out our information session from 2020.

    The University of Sydney Keep in touch Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn YouTube Copyright © 2021

Semester Two 2020

Archaeology usyd

A message from 
The Department of History The University of Sydney

Professor Mark McKenna From the Chair of Department

Dear Students, 

As we ready ourselves for the second semester of 2020, we are reminded how vital the study of history is to so many events that dominate our lives today. Whether it is the global pandemic, the Black Lives Matter marches, or the heightening of tensions between and within nations in a time of crisis, the History Department is deeply committed to providing context for these events, and helping us to think critically about the past, and present.

Come join us in our classes in second semester. Work closely in small groups with academics across the Department in our History Workshop, or sample one of our survey units covering wide-ranging topics like Modern American History, Brexit in Historical Perspective, China and its Frontiers, Fascism and Antifascism, and even the History of Sydney’s dark side.

For advanced students, you can delve more deeply into the History of the High Renaissance, Modern China, or take one of our capstone units on History and Historians, which looks at major historiographical problems, or History Beyond the Classroom – in which you get to work with a local or community organisation to create a public history project together.

We have something for everyone, and we are looking forward to having you back in our classes. 

Department of History

Undergraduate guide Semester 2 2020

We are delighted to confirm our offerings for Semester 2. The full details can be found in the Department’s Undergraduate Student Guide, and here are links below to each of the units. 

HSTY1001 History Workshop
HSTY1003 Birth of the Present:The World since 1750
HSTY2626 Fascism and Antifascism
HSTY2631 Sin City? A History of Sydney
HSTY2642 Beyond the Great Wall: China’s Frontiers
HSTY2712 American History from Lincoln to Trump
HSTY2717 Brexit in Historical Perspective 
HSTY3700 The East is Red: China 1949-1997
HSTY3714 High Renaissance
HSTY3902 History Beyond the Classroom
HSTY3903 History and Historians 
History Honours

More information

For enquiries about changing your enrolment please contact sophi.enquiries@sydney.edu.au

For all enquiries concerning the contents of units, please get in touch with the lecturers themselves, whose contact details are on the Department of History websiteYou can enrol through Sydney Student

The public website listing which units are available can be found here FASS Semester 2 webpage. We’re looking forward to seeing you in Semester 2!

Best wishes,

Professor Mark McKenna
Chair of the Department of History

Curious about FASS students’ Semester 1 experience?

Click here to read Scepticism to surprise: Teaching excellence continues during COVID-19

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Communities of Support: Leadership Fellows Scheme 2020

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sydney

Since 2012, the Departments of English, History, and Classics and Ancient History have worked with low-socioeconomic high schools across NSW to engage with a wider cohort of students, make us better, more inclusive teachers, foster aspiration, and encourage students of diverse backgrounds to participate in higher education. Further information about these programs can be found here: http://sydney.edu.au/arts/widening_participation/ and https://historymatters.sydney.edu.au/category/history-and-social-inclusion/  

This year, as part of a successful Strategic Education Grant (Widening Participation), we will recruit Leadership Fellows from across the Faculty (two per School), for HDR students to play a critical role in our new project entitled “Communities of Support: First Generation Students and the Transition to University.”

This Faculty-wide two-tier project will address student transition and retention issues among some of our most at-risk students, and contribute to student well-being and satisfaction. The project aims to create a pool of trained student volunteers and Leadership Fellows from each School who will work closely with current low-ses and First in Family students to co-create an intensive mentoring experience for incoming students in 2020. We hope to build a community of engaged, informed, and trained students and enrich the student experience for all, as well as hep inform a more formal Faculty-wide transition program in the future.

Our Leadership Fellows will be given the opportunity to advance key academic skills, including inclusive teaching and mentoring in higher education; providing mentorship to undergraduate volunteers, design support activities for volunteers to support their mentees, lead cohorts of volunteers in the delivery of grant projects, and provide general event coordination and publicity support.

The Leadership Fellow program runs from February to December 2020. The specific responsibilities, dates of commitment, and key programs of involvement for Fellows are outlined below. All duties will be conducted under the supervision and guidance of Project Manager, Dr Kieryn McKay, with the support of Project Assistant, Simon Wyatt-Spratt, and under the general direction of Associate Professor Melissa Hardie and Professor Michael A. McDonnell.

All Fellows will receive training in Inclusive Teaching and Low-SES Volunteering to qualify for their position. Fellows will receive a $500 honorarium and a certificate of achievement for their contributions to the program, both of which will be presented to Fellows at the end of their Fellowship term. 


To apply to become a Leadership Fellow, you must be currently enrolled in a Higher Degree Research program in FASS.


Application forms are available via this Qualtrics link: https://sydney.au1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9BNpSzZWRTvBcDr

Applications require candidates to provide a brief outline of relevant experience and the details of two referees.

All applications for the 2020 Leadership Fellow scheme are due by noon (12:00 pm) on Friday, January 31st.  

Leadership Fellows 2020 – Responsibilities 

The specific duties, dates of commitment, and key involvement for Fellows are outlined below. All responsibilities will be conducted under the supervision and guidance of the Project Manager, Dr Kieryn McKay, and with the support of Project Assistant, Simon Wyatt-Spratt, and under the general direction of Associate Professor Melissa Hardie and Professor Michael A. McDonnell.


Responsibilities and time commitments for Fellows are outlined below. Please note that some activities require advanced preparation, and you will be required to communicate with a small pool of volunteers (4-6 maximum) throughout the year.

Time commitment:  welcome and training session, 10 am-4 pm on Friday, February 7th; Mentor/Fellows Partnerships Lunch, 12-1 pm Friday, Feb. 28; a once-monthly lunch with Project officers and involved academics; end-of-semester and year Social event and evaluations.   

Outline: Leadership Fellows will be trained by program leaders in inclusive teaching and support, and will then in turn be responsible for coordinating and supporting small groups of undergraduate students as they mentor new first year students through the year. Leadership Fellows will also provide valuable input into the mentoring program and meet with undergraduate volunteers at least once a month, as well as meeting Project officers and academics every month. As a Leadership Fellow you will help to coordinate the program and will play a key leadership role for our group of volunteer mentors.

Miller Technology High Social Inclusion Program – Essay Writing Celebration

On the 29th of November Mike McDonnell and Clair Sole visited Miller Technology High School to celebrate the work the Year 11s did in their did in their Historical Investigation Projects. Miller Technology High students worked alongside Sydney University student volunteers over five meetings from April-August to complete a written essay. The students also had to prepare a speech and give a presentation in front of their friends, students from Granville Boys High School, and staff and students at the University. The topics ranged from the impact of William Wallace on ideas of Scottish independence to the experiences of Iranian women in the twentieth century.

The Presentation Day involved awarding students for their hard work, and special prizes were given for the best Ancient and Modern essays and presentations. Mike was invited to talk to the students about the benefits of tertiary education and awarded the best essays and presentations for Ancient and Modern History. Rachael-Anne Benson was awarded the best essay and presentation for Ancient History and gave her presentation on the impact of William Wallace on Scottish independence whilst Shaedaa Hadi was awarded the best essay and presentation for Modern History and gave a speech about her experience in the social inclusion program.

The day concluded with a brief speech by principle, Dr Ken Edge, congratulating the students, and a Thai lunch with the students. The Social Inclusion Program looks forward to working with Miller Technology High again in the coming year!

The Theatre for Children Website Archive and Resources

The Jester: Logo for the Theatre for Children.

For my History Beyond the Classroom project, I collaborated with the Sydney Jewish Museum (SJM) to create a website that serves as a digital archive and education resources collection. In September 2019, a collection of photographs, plays, letters, newspaper clippings and logbooks were donated to SJM in a cabin sized suitcase which was filled to the brim. This collection, donated by Dr John McIntyre, centres around the Theatre for Children, which was run by a Jewish woman in Sydney from 1937-1957. The director of the Theatre, Rosemarie Benjamin, was extremely passionate about children’s theatre, education and psychology.

Eating, Working, and Learning

What I will remember most from my time spent at SJM is the warm, inviting atmosphere of the museum. Every Friday morning, I was invited to eat traditional Challah bread with the staff and other volunteers. We also went to lunchtime lectures together which helped me to learn more about the Holocaust and Jewish history from the museum’s resident historian and education team.

Two Teams: One Website

My project is particularly innovative as it will be one of the first online resources created for Stage 3 students by the Sydney Jewish Museum. The Education team at SJM were keen for me to make activities and resources for English for Stage 3 students, as this was an area in which they were lacking. This included writing comprehension questions, writing tasks and a questionnaire about the six plays uploaded to the website. These resources were also designed directly from the English Stage 3 Syllabus, to make the activities accessible and simple for teachers.

I was also part of the Curation team, which was why I conducted a lot of research into the collection, Trove and academic articles written by John McIntyre. The collection that was donated easily has three hundred documents in it, and gives a unique picture of Benjamin as an entrepreneur and advocate for children’s theatre.

The main audience for this website is Stage 3 students, in regional and suburban New South Wales. Having this collection of artefacts from the museum published online makes SJM more accessible for teachers and the general public, especially for those who aren’t able to physically visit the museum.

I think the most significant impact I’ve felt with this project is the preservation and dissemination of this otherwise unknown story about children’s theatre in Sydney. The successes and failures of this theatre highlight the economic difficulties experienced by those during the inter-war period, World War II, and the 1950’s. I have become very passionate about retelling the story of this theatre, and in particular, emphasising Rosemarie Benjamin’s passion and advocacy. Her determination to provide entertaining and educational plays for young children is evident in the fact that the theatre was self-funded.. As SJM is yet to upload their database online, the digitisation of this small part of their collection is also an important step in making the museum more accessible. I have also included both PDF and Word Doc versions of the plays, a full character and props list, and the length of the plays. This is to make reading and selecting the plays as smooth and informative for the teachers as possible.

Designed by the Professionals:

I will be passing on my website to SJM’s marketing team, so that they can convert my website onto their own website generating platform. With this in mind, I have tried to mimic SJM’s colour scheme from their website and education booklets, to make the design process more seamless. Once it has been edited by the marketing team, my website will be launched on the new Teacher’s Membership Platform. which will allow students in more rural and regional schools, who can’t visit the museum, to access the collection digitally.

Challenges vs Opportunities:

This project certainly had its challenges, including the complexity and brevity of the collection, my lack of website editing knowledge, and the fact that I am not training to be a teacher. I chose to see this project though as a chance to digitise part of the museum’s artefacts, and as an opportunity to gain some experience in web design and producing education activities. This allowed me to see history through a more modern, digital, and educational lens, and to expand my skill set and understanding of how history is portrayed in the public sphere. It was also quite difficult upon reading some of the plays and guides, as some of them included quite racist and sexist material, despite the young target audience. I have deliberately added a disclaimer to make my, and SJM’s position clear on these issues. Whilst I personally disagree with the racist and sexist remarks in some of the plays, and know that the Sydney Jewish Museum does not support this or any type of discrimination, I felt that it would be historically accurate to preserve the original version. I also believe that it is not right to change what’s written in any play, literature or historical source, despite my lens and perspective on these matters being vastly different to the opinions that Benjamin expresses. In particular, I, and the Sydney Jewish Museum do not condone, endorse or support any racist, sexist or culturally vilifying  behaviour, whether they be verbal or written, and will therefore be writing an ‘updated’ or modern version of the play which removes these words and lines, which will also be available on the website. The remarks made by characters, especially in Martha’s Toyshop and Katherine and Frederick, are a product of their time, and whilst this doesn’t excuse the opinions conveyed in these plays, I will later be amending them so that teachers can decide which versions to teach. I have also provided teachers with a possible activity idea around this topic, linked with Outcome HT3-3 of the History Stage 3 syllabus. This way, the teachers don’t have to perpetuate the vocabulary and opinions from these plays, thereby teaching students the importance of respect, understanding, communication and historical perspective.

The Future:

I’ve discussed staying on with SJM for another couple months to continue transcribing the other seven plays, and to accession the collection into their database called Adlib. I’m glad that this collection will survive in the museum’s database and through the website I’ve created. I’m also planning on providing a guide of how to use Wix and my thought process in designing the website, so that if the museum should want to add to it in the future, or complete a similar type of project, they can do so.

History Student (almost) Becomes Polar Bear

Website: Cronulla Polar Bears Major Project

My journey of learning the histories of a swim club and almost becoming an affiliate member nears it’s final chapters.

The Cronulla Polar Bears is a club rich with over 70 years of history. The stories and memories of the club are all shared and cherished between members both past and present. Oral histories have been a key component of the club’s incredible sense of camaraderie. With the honest and casual nature that oral histories provides, it’s dependence on memory proves as it’s greatest hindrance. Through my work with the club, I began to realize the beauty in talking to members about their experiences and then learning to respect and understand the culture of the club. The downside of course is investigating particular years proves challenging on some of the older members and reignites those memories. Nonetheless, the process of being welcomed into their homes and discussing some of their most cherished memories was incredibly heartwarming as merely a daughter of the cook. Through my work this them, I often caught myself claiming membership to the club by saying ‘our club’ or ‘our members’ which in itself is a testament to their hospitality. Te Bears were very keen to have their stories in the physical form, in addition to leaving the website in my hands and taking it in any direction I saw fit. More importantly, I understood and respected that some stories were better left to be appreciated between members not for publication purposes.

The website is focused on showcasing the camaraderie and rich history of the club for not only members and their family or friends, but also those looking to join the club. Ensuring there was a means of contact was important to me as I wanted people to finish navigating the website and want to become part of the family. That was my aim in relaying their history and stories, for people to see themselves joining the club and actively being able to.

Considering the countless successes of the club since foundation, there are still many men who describe their swimming as ‘floating like a brick’. Of course, in true character and humour of the club, these gentlemen still continue to swim every Sunday regardless of ability. By removing that sense of competition and introducing the handicap system, they put a greater onus on the mate-ship and character of the club, which proves the uniting force behind its success. Working with this group has been an honour, to not only learn their stories but also help them make their own history for years to come.

Through the website I created, I hope it will be a platform that is easily adaptable for any further work I will be doing with them. For example, in the next few months I’ll be writing summaries about life members and significant characters of the club. I can’t wait to continue my work with the club and help them create something they can be proud of; it’s been a pleasure helping them preserve their history.

Cronulla Polar Bears circa 1960, photo provided by the club.