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FEDERATION OF AUSTRALIAN HISTORICAL SOCIETIES INC
e-BULLETIN No. 108 – 12 February 2013
Hon Editor, Dr Ruth S. Kerr
The Hon Tony Burke MP, the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population, and Communities, invites people to nominate places for inclusion in the National Heritage List or in the Commonwealth Heritage List for the assessment period 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014.
Nominations must be received by the Department by 8 March 2013. The following link is to the Minister’s Press Release:
Details of how to prepare a nomination are on the Department’s website: www.environment.gov.au/heritage/nominating/index.html
(Source: www.environment.gov.au/heritage/nominating/index.html - 6 February 2013)
The Federation has a continuing interest in the Australian Prospectors and Miners’ Hall of Fame (APMHF) on behalf of historians and tourists. In 2012 it became apparent that the facility was unsustainable. Government and industry have invested millions of dollars since it opened just over a decade ago.
It was decided that as the state government would inherit the building if it closed, it would use it for an expansion of the local TAFE known as the Goldfields Institute of Technology.
The actual Hall of Fame remains there and the remaining facilities are to reopen as a tourist mine, which is what it was before the Hall of Fame building was built on the site in 2001.
The new Chairman of the APMHF is the State Member for Kalgoorlie, John Bowler MLA. His main task in 2013 is to organise and manage the annual induction of members of the Hall of Fame. The median term purpose is to educate the community on the importance and flow-on effects of mining.
The APMHF website is: www.mininghall.com and the contact details are: Goldfields Highway, Kalgoorlie WA 6430, Australia; Phone: Ph. +61 08 90262700; Postal Address: PBKB 2001, Kalgoorlie WA 6433.
(Source: Chairman of the Australian Prospectors & Miners’ Hall of Fame, Mr John Bowler MLA – 4 February 2013)
The program using optical character recognition is for digitization of National Archives of Australia (NAA) records and makes them accessible electronically.
The project commenced on 1 November 2012 and has no budget.
The program also provides an opportunity for the general public to correct digital records loaded on the NAA database. The system allows the public to register for an account, choose from hundreds of digitally scanned public records and correct any errors in the automatic text recognition. It is similar to the approach used by National Library of Australia in its TROVE project. (http://egovau.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/transcribe-australias-archival-records.html)
1600 pages have been transcribed so far.
3500 pages are ready to load on the system.
Consignment lists are to be uploaded in this project.
The text will be extracted for NAA’s Record Search.
65,000 national servicemen’s names are to be uploaded electronically in records.
A demonstration was done in Adelaide in December. The project is of special relevance to South Australia as 20 kms of South Australian records were relocated to Sydney several years ago.
A staff member of NAA is doing ‘crowd sourcing’ with transcribers on the Hive project.
(Source: National Archives of Australia Consultative Forum, Brisbane Meeting – 23 January 2013)
Hon Colin Barnett MP, the Premier of Western Australia, announced the recipients of round six of the Western Australian State Government's Social Innovation Grants (SIG) program on 25 January. Among the six successful organisations was the Carnamah Historical Society, who received $100,000 to further develop its virtual volunteering program. The grant round was open to all organisations within the community sector.
The funding, over a two-year period, will cover research, development, trials, refinement, and also the promotion and sharing of structure and outcomes. The aims of the program are to increase the output of the society, improve social inclusion and provide additional volunteering opportunities.
The good news doesn't end there though! The success is a solid win for historical societies in Western Australia. It affirms that we are deemed to be part of the community sector and that we provide valuable services to communities.
(Source: Andrew Bowman, Carnamah Historical Society – 30 January 2013)
In the wake of recent fires and floods, the following links on the National Library of Australia's website are relevant:
(Source: www.nla.gov.au/search?search_api_views – 5 February 2013)
On 4 February 2013 the Infrastructure Minister, Hon David O'Byrne MP, issued a press release expressing disappointment at the imminent closure of the West Coast Wilderness Railway from April 30th.
The Federal Group has announced it will stop operating the service because of rising maintenance costs, the financial costs of operating in rugged isolated terrain, and the tourism downturn affecting most of regional Australia.
The Minister said, "This is a disappointing outcome which is largely beyond ours or the Federal Group's control."
"The West Coast Wilderness Railway has been a valuable tourism asset for the past decade.
"Unfortunately, the operation isn't viable for the foreseeable future, and the Federal Group has decided to withdraw," he said.
The Minister’s Press Release outlined that the track has been damaged by severe weather in recent years, contributing significantly to escalating costs in maintenance. The Federal Group has advised the state government that these and other ongoing maintenance and upgrade costs are too high for the operation to remain viable. It was stated that additional investment of between $15-20 million would be required in the next five years.
The Minister indicated that it would be appropriate for the railway to be sold and a new owner to operate it, but that the state government cannot manage that level of investment on its own. He further stated that passenger numbers had dropped from 45,000 to 30,000 in 2012. Forty-eight staff will be affected. Some may be deployed to other Federal Group operations.
(Source: firstname.lastname@example.org – 4 February 2013; ABC News -www.abc.net.au/news/2013-02-04/jobs-in-balance-as-tourist-railway-closes/4499832?section=tas - 5 February 2013)
The grave and identification of the last English king killed in battle, Richard III, has been confirmed at Leicester on 4 February 2013. He had been crowned king at age 30 on 6 July 1483. It is more than 500 years since he died on 22 August 1485 in the Battle of Bosworth fighting the Tudors led by Henry, who became King Henry VII.
A team of archaeologists and historians from the University of Leicester have announced that a skeleton discovered in 2012 during the excavation of a medieval friary under a Leicester car park is that of Richard III. DNA from the bones matched that of descendants of the king's sister, while the skeleton had the twisted spine and battle injuries consistent with contemporary accounts, lead researcher Richard Buckley said.
"Beyond reasonable doubt, the individual exhumed at Greyfriars in September 2012 is indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England," he confirmed.
"There are various traumas to the skull and elsewhere on the body, which have been looked at by the specialists who can then estimate which weapons might have been used."
DNA taken from the body matched that of Michael Ibsen, a Canadian-born furniture maker in London who genealogists said was the direct descendant of Richard's sister, Anne of York.
The ABC News report states: ‘Researchers who examined the skeleton said Richard was probably killed by one of two fatal injuries to his skull - one caused by a sword and one by a halberd, a heavy medieval axe mounted on a long, spear-like pole.
The blows were so heavy that part of the back of the skull was sliced off. Altogether there were 10 wounds on the skeleton - including what the researchers call "humiliation injuries", such as a sword wound to the right buttock. After the king was killed he was probably stripped naked and slung over the back of a horse to be taken to Leicester, where his body was exhibited in a church. ... He was finally interred in an unmarked grave, naked, without a shroud or coffin. In a final humiliation, the grave was too small to properly fit his body. ... Richard is thought to have been buried at the Franciscan friary of Grey Friars in Leicester, but the church was demolished in the 1530s and its location had been lost until now. The skeleton was unearthed in what is thought to have been the choir of the church, which was also uncovered during a three-week archaeological dig at the car park.’
(Source: ABC News - www.abc.net.au/news/2013-02-04/researchers-confirm-skeleton-is-that-of-richard-iii/4500598; www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4500950.html - accessed 5 February 2013; Australian Financial Review 9-10 February 2013 p.14 including photographs)
BAMAKO, Mali —
‘The saving of Timbuktu’s priceless manuscripts owes everything to the bravery of an unlikely group — librarians.
The coalition of Tuareg separatists and Islamic militants who overran the city last April were just the latest in a series of foreign invaders to sweep into the fabled desert city, so the owners of Timbuktu’s manuscripts did what they have always done — they hid them.
An ancient city squeezed between the Niger River and the Sahara Desert, Timbuktu was a center of Islamic scholarship and trans-African trade in its medieval heyday but has gradually declined in the centuries that followed. The city's manuscripts are a unique treasure trove of scholarly information. Handwritten and many hundreds of years old, they are irreplaceable.
Each time foreign invaders threaten Timbuktu — whether a Moroccan army in the 16th century, European explorers in the 18th, French colonialists in the 19th or Al Qaeda militants in the 21st — the manuscripts disappear beneath mud floors, into cupboards, boxes, sacks and secret rooms, into caves in the desert or upriver to the safety of Mopti or Bamako, Mali’s capital.
It is a tried and tested form of conservation in extremes and last year was no different.
“The manuscripts are safe,” said Abdel Kader Haidara, the owner of the city’s largest private collection and head of a local association of owners tasked with the protection of the manuscripts.
During an interview in Bamako, where he fled for safety, Haidara told GlobalPost that his Mamma Haidara Manuscripts Library — which houses 45,000 documents — now stands empty, as do two-dozen other private libraries in the city.
The testimony of manuscript owners has convinced many that the vast majority, if not all, of Timbuktu’s manuscripts have in fact been saved from the depredations of vandals who attacked and destroyed Timbuktu’s UNESCO-designated graveyards, mausoleums and tombs.
“The private library owners are convinced their materials are safe. Some hid their manuscripts in Timbuktu, others took them with them to Bamako,” Professor Shamil Jeppie, an expert on the manuscripts and director of the Cape Town-based Tombouctou Manuscripts Project, told GlobalPost.
At first there was less certainty about the fate of documents stored at the state-owned Ahmed Baba Institute, established in 1973. It was considered more of a target because of its government links, (administrative buildings, along with churches, were usually the first to be attacked) and as they quit Timbuktu the Islamists attempted to set it on fire.
The first visitors to the Institute found empty shelves, boxes and smoldering papers, but the vast cache of manuscripts was missing. Some assumed they had been looted, but Haidara and others with close links to the Institute insist the manuscripts are safe.
Haidara described how, soon after the rebels reached Timbuktu, he and 15 others worked for a month at night packing manuscripts into metal trunks, cataloguing them, locking the boxes with two keys and then hiding them. He would not say exactly where, only that the manuscripts had been “dispersed” in more than 1,000 boxes.
“The manuscripts are hidden in different places where nothing can happen to them,” he said.
Timbuktu’s manuscripts are incredibly varied, in both length and subject. Some are fragments, single pages or a couple of leafs, while others are entire bound volumes hundreds of pages long.
They cover topics as diverse as science, medicine, history, human rights, law, poetry and literature, but the vast majority are of a religious nature: handwritten Korans, accounts of the life of the Prophet, prayers and expositions of Islamic philosophy.
The value of the manuscripts is in their documentation of Timbuktu’s lost heyday as a center of Islamic scholarship and the trans-Saharan trade routes of the 15th and 16th centuries, proving the lie — in carefully rendered calligraphy — that Africa was a place of exclusively oral history until the colonialists came.
“For many, African history begins with European explorers,” Haidara said. “People don’t know the manuscripts [that predated them].”
“The manuscripts are a reflection of a rich written culture from the 14th century onwards, which is not often recognized,” Jeppie said.
The saving of the manuscripts is a remarkable example of resistance. And a testimony to the value.
“If the manuscripts are destroyed, we lose our history,” Haidara said.’
(Source: Global Post (American News Site) 3 February 2013 www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/war/conflict-zones/130201/timbuktu-manuscripts-saved-mali-al-qaeda; The Times 3 February 2013; www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/how-the-librarians-thwarted-al-qaida/story-fnb64oi6-1226567638593)
Commemorations of Tunnelling Companies from Britain and the Dominions
In April 2012 a group of descendants and supporters went overseas on a NZETC pilgrimage.
A slideshow of the trip can be viewed at the following URL:
and the NZETC website Updates page provides other content relating to the trip :
In the lead-up to the WW1 centennial commemorations there will be an increased focus on the activities and men of the Tunnelling Companies from Britain and the Dominions.
On the ANZETC homepage there is an appeal by the Arras Tourist Office (ATO) for photos of tunnellers. ATO is working towards an 2017 exhibition of individual NZ Tunnellers photos.
There is now a NZETC Facebook page, thought to be the first NZ WW1 unit specific Facebook page. It provides a place for NZETC descendants and supporters to share, touch base with each other and to build on plans to support WW1 commemorations:
(Source: Sue Baker Wilson, Waihi Heritage Vision researcher, NZ Engineers Tunnelling Company researcher
P O Box 333 Katikati 3166, New Zealand P +64 7 549 0496;www.nzetc.co.nz/index.html; www.facebook.com/NZTunnellingCompany - 8 February 2013)