Whole Histories – Keeping the Stories Alive

Papers presented at the conference held at St Clement’s Retreat and Conference Centre, Galong NSW Friday 7 to 9 April 2017.

I was fortunate to be able to attend this conference, and benefit from the experience of meeting with like minded history enthusiasts and volunteers in the region.  Yass and District Historical Society is to be commended for the organising, advertising and implementation of an excellent event.  The range of speakers was of great relevance to historical societies and to the study of history in general.  Subsequently, the publishing of these papers in a single volume has allowed for a handy reference for the local history museum, and is of great relevance to our work here in Queanbeyan. The volume opens with a quote from Thomas J Noel, author and historian:

History is not something that happened long ago and far away. History happens to all of us all the time.  Local history brings history home, it touches your life, the life of your family, your neighbourhood, your community”.

Dr Mathew Trinca from the National Museum opened proceedings, speaking of how local history casts light on and can even shape the national narrative. Many historians and professionals contributed articles, with the purpose to empower and enthuse local workers who are volunteers. I will focus this time on the article, Future Options in a Changing World, by Dr Carol Liston AO, History Professor, Western Sydney University. Local history and museum groups proliferated in the 1960s and 1970s, particularly in country areas, with many people involved as keepers of their local history and objects.  However, today there are more groups to compete for volunteer’s time, and few younger people have time for community groups outside of their children’s education and sporting activities.  Dr Liston presents sobering facts on a world where future generations could have difficulty in engaging in the study of Australian history.  She teaches university students, and cannot assume prior knowledge, for example in reading maps effectively or even handwritten documents and manuscripts.  Reading habits have changed because of technology, and vocabulary has been lost.  Multicultural groups have changed local demography.  So, many are not interested in the local history, and one instance is cited of a historical society in Sydney being wound down, its papers thrown in the rubbish!

Managing a Museum is not easy, and community perception is very important. Record keeping, meetings, elections, constitutions, finances and tenure of positions are all important.  Also of great importance is the rights of volunteers, covered by the Fair Work Act, anti-bullying legislation Jan 2014, gives volunteers rights to make complaints to the Fair Work commission, and societies are obligated to ensure a fair and safe working environment.

The objects of Societies include: to encourage the study of Australian and local history, and publish same, to acquire historical records for the purpose of research, acquire objects to form a museum, promote exchange of information with similar bodies, and preserve local buildings and places of historical interest.

Many societies have failed because of bullying or arrogant leaders, death of office bearers, burnout (our own experience in Queanbeyan! Although we are still pretty healthy), narrow membership, disrespect or destruction. The Society needs to be involved and reaching out to record and participate in the local community.  A constant revision of the objects of the society is needed, including visibility, education and advocacy.  Ways to reach out to non traditional members of societies are needed, including multicultural and millennials.  All members matter and should be made welcome.  A valid point may be to consider projects rather than committees. Volunteers quit because of not feeling valued, lack of leadership, lack of communication, and lack of flexibility in how things are done and by whom. Dr Liston has provided a useful checklist; it would benefit us in Queanbeyan to discuss it.

 Lee Davy

Whole Histories

QPRC Heritage Awards

Queanbeyan and Region Heritage Awards will take place at 12 noon at our Museum Open Day. These QPRC awards acknowledge the hard work and dedicated building, renovation and restoration efforts to maintain a link to the region’s rich history. They include residential, commercial or landscape work and individual achievement in heritage and history preservation and promotion.Heritage Awards 2016

Caring for Your Family Collections Workshop 22 April 2017

Caring for Your Family Collections
Lara Montebello has studied conservation at the University of Canberra and runs a local business Family Keepsakes dedicated to “keeping safe the things you love”. Lara can give you tips on how to best care for your precious family photographs, collections and Archives.

Time 2.30 – 3.30  Cost FREE



Scrapbooking Your Memories Workshops 22 April 2017

Introduction to Scrapbooking

Scrapbooking is a passion for many because it is a creative way to make beautiful pages with your photographs and memorabilia to commemorate important memories: special people, fabulous holidays, a beloved pet. Come and join us for an intro session with passionate scrapbooker Jenny Bolin who has been scrapbooking for 16 years. Once you’ve started it is a fun way to spend time immersed in a project on your own or get together with friends around a table for their inspiration, input and company.
Bring: photos and memorabilia or copies.

Time 10.00 – 12.00 AND 1.00 – 3.00  Cost $10.00

Gillian Kelly – Presenting Writing and Researching History Workshop

Gillian Kelly OAM has been researching and writing about and local and regional history for many years. Gillian is a retired teacher and has a degree in Local History Studies from the University of New England.

She currently edits Quinbean the Journal of the Queanbeyan and District Historical Museum Society and is a past editor of Tulle the Journal of the Australian Society of the Lacemakers of Calais. She edited and wrote two books exploring the fascinating history of the Lacemakers: The Lacemakers of Calais (1990), (editor) and Well Suited to the Colony (1998) (author). She is currently researching the history of 19th century Queanbeyan. She has an eye for the quirky, untold stories and unsung heroes and heroines of history. She was responsible for many of the high quality history displays at the Museum.

Gillian is interested in the social context of history and will be presenting with Brigid Whitbread the Writing and Researching History Workshop at our Open Day 1 -2 Sat 22 April 2017. Workshop is free.DSC_0136_2_2

Oral History at our Open Day

Dr Mary Hutchison has decades of experience in working with oral history as part of her research and heritage interpretation activities.  She is an interviewer for the National Library of Australia and also supports and runs community oral history projects.  She is currently facilitating an intergenerational oral history project with Ainslie School students as part of the School’s 90th birthday celebrations.

What the Workshop will cover

What is oral history?


Examples of oral history projects

Developing an oral history project – in response to participants’ ideas and interests

Please bring your ideas in doing oral history that we can discuss as a group

Time: 10.30 -111.30 Sat 22April 2017

Cost is $10.00

e-mail us to book: qbnmuseum@yahoo.com.au

Pic Dr Mary HutchisonIMG_4093_2

Q Writers at Heritage Festival Open Day

We are getting very excited about our workshops for our Open Day on the 22 April!

One of the wonderful local groups that are presenting a workshop at 2.30 -3.30 are The Q Writers.

Qwriters explore and practice ways to foster creative writing skills. They share ideas and their writing, they hold workshops and take part in community events.QWriters work in many forms: memoir, short and long fiction, poetry, screen/play writing and essays.At Qwriters anything written is respected and considered confidential.

QWriters gather at Letchworth Community Centre, Miller St, Queanbeyan, on the fourth Saturday of the month from 1.00pm to 4.00pm. New members welcome.

Qwriters is supported by QPRC



Workshop Program 22 April – Expressing and Preserving Your Story

Our exciting workshop program has been finalised for our Open Day – Expressing and Preserving Your Story on 22 April 10-4 as part of the regional Heritage Festival. Come along and spread the word!Flyer for Open Day 22 April 2017 copy