The FAHS biannual Newsletter is full of stories from FAHS member societies around Australia that show how diverse and active is our history community.
The loss of the Genoa School museum in Victoria in the New Year fires (photo at L) was a blow to the district and to all who had a connection to the site both as a school and as a museum.
2020 has presented disruption and challenges across the country with COVID-19 and various restrictions impacting on most Historical Societies. This issue of the FAHS Newsletter explores these challenges and restrictions and how they have been dealt with across the country.
Disaster preparedness and recovery
This issue of the FAHS Newsletter is released on May Day, which is Blue Shield Australia’s most important day of the year. It highlights the need for
disaster management and recovery of culturally significant collections. This year for May Day, we are launching the Local History Backup project. We want Australian historical societies to choose five to ten objects and digitise them, then store printed copies in a time capsule, or join the digital one we’ve created on eHive.
This summer has barely begun and already we’re in the midst of a terrible bushfire season. This awful reminder of our changing climate urges me to emphasise how important it is to assess risks to collections, particularly in rural areas, and to digitise collection objects to safeguard the future of historical societies. In this time of change we thought it apt to devote a whole issue of our newsletter to the theme.
This issue explores the theme Connections in every sense of the word. Connections between historical societies and between a historical society and another organisation almost always lead to success. We learn how meaningful connections can be made between collections and the community. Finally, we consider the complex connections between one’s identity and the GLAM workplace.
Historical societies stand to make a meaningful contribution to Australia’s heritage, through knowledge, skills, and advocacy. The RHSV is saving Queen Victoria Market. The National Trust share their extreme measures to restore a heritage site in New South Wales, and breathe life into a heritage building in SA. In Katanning, WA, heritage is repurposed for the 21st Century. RHSQ look after the Dig Tree, whilst Canberra & District Historical Society explore the wide-reaching consequences of another kind of significant tree.
Historical societies are well situated to make a unique contribution to the recognition and celebration of diversity – by working with – and being part of their communities. The writers in this issue express a commitment to inclusion – from documenting histories – to exhibiting the historical evidence and reinterpretation of collections. Stories of the long forgotten are reinvigorated from varied perspectives, whether these are feminist, multicultural, queer or indigenous.
Collaboration and Participation
In this issue we highlight collaboration and community participation as important factors in running an historical society or community heritage group. Collaboration (with artists, universities, GLAM organisations, etc) helps to develop new networks and activate local interest in history. Such collaborations are also critical in obtaining support and ensuring that your work is recognised and rewarded.
In this collection of articles, historical societies across Australia reflect on the myriad ways that we do history from developing curriculum resources to re-enactment and immersive learning. Research and interpretation of local knowledge sources once confined to the most earnest of researchers now has extended reach through a diversity of publication formats, events, blogs and social media.
Historical Societies across Australia hold important parts of our history, whether this is in local memorabilia, items of national significance or through the intangible heritage of local customs and stories. This newsletter focuses on the collections of historical societies from around Australia. As Don Garden, President of the FAHS points out these collections are important because they represent our local, grassroots and family history. They identify and recall the people who lived and worked in our villages, towns and suburbs and they describe the evolution of our communities.
For issue 41, a new format has been introduced reflecting the diversity of approaches to historical and heritage matters and the importance of the work of regional societies and community museums. FAHS is also proud to expand its digital presence https://www.facebook.com/FederationAHS/ and provide a forum for emerging national news and events.