Numerous scholarly critiques of Gavin Menzies’ 1421: The Year China Discovered the World have revealed a plethora of factual errors and inconsistencies, but to little effect. Menzies has simply co-opted different artefacts to support his thesis, or has varied the thesis itself to dodge specific criticisms. Not until historians and intellectuals cease sparring with Menzies on his own terms, and instead criticise the flawed methodological basis of his enterprise–coupled with factual repudiations–can the 1421 thesis be discredited in a manner that affords no recourse. This article has been peer-reviewed.
Who does not think of masculinity and the Australian national character when they hear the word ‘mateship’? There are plenty of reasons for this, not least the efforts of labour leaders and blokish nationalists at the turn of the twentieth century. In this paper, however, I show that radicals in early 1890s Adelaide tried to give ‘mateship’ and the ‘brotherhood of man’ a feminist twist. This was especially the case among the men and women who took part in the Murtho experiment, a short-lived village settlement set up on ethical socialist principles in 1894. Their endeavours highlight the fact that notions of mateship, brotherhood and fraternity developed throughout Anglo culture in this period, not just in Australia. They also highlight the importance of ethical socialism to many of South Australia’s first-wave feminists, leading them to feel a sense of mutuality with labour and radical causes. This article has been peer-reviewed.
The presence in Australia of English and American magazines has not attracted significant critical attention in histories of magazines or writing. But the defence of imported magazines at a 1930 Tariff Board Inquiry stresses their importance to Australian magazine culture during the 1920s. This paper considers the evidence presented to the Inquiry in conjunction with the magazine holdings of several libraries and a small news- agency. In the commercial and cultural operations of retailers and lenders a new idea of Australian magazine culture emerges; one that does not reject imported culture, but embraces it as a significant element of its very existence. This article has been peer-reviewed.
Birth, death and marriage traditionally evoke our most powerful expressions of intimacy and sentiment. Yet for numerous Australian families up to the 1970s, those occasions triggered the opposite sentiments: estrangement, conflict and hostility, which sometimes endured beyond the grave. The cause: 'mixed marriage' between Catholics and Protestants in a pre-multicultural Australia, where religion was still code for a social and political identity that reflected English-Irish tensions derived from colonial days. This article is based on 48 oral histories recorded by Siobhan McHugh for a forthcoming doctoral thesis at the University of Wollongong. The marriages, which range from 1924 to 1983, are recalled by spouses, children and clergy.
The stereotyped transition of the Irish in Australia from rebellious dissenters to respectable citizens glosses an abiding sense of difference that was reproduced down the generations of Irish-Australians. Exploring these tensions in the personal biography of John Vincent Barry, a prominent judge, intellectual and civil libertarian of the mid-twentieth century, offers an unusual opportunity to assess what it meant to be of second or third generation Irish descent in a settler society. These tensions are examined through the rich archive of Barry's private papers as well as his public writing and action. Yes Yes
Curtin researcher Tom Fitzgerald amassed a wealth of evidence that John Curtin wrote under the pen name "Vigilant" in the early years of his editorship of the Westralian Worker. If true, the personal and literary columns penned by "Vigilant" provide new insights into the inner temperament of Australia's war time Prime Minister. Fitzgerald's evidence for Curtin as "Vigilant" is presented in this paper and the attribution is further explored by applying stylistic tests developed at the Centre for Literary and Linguistic Computing at the University of Newcastle (NSW).
The Brisbane Fascio, established in 1930 as part of the Italian Fascist Party’s attempt to disseminate its ideology amongst Italian emigrant communities, enjoyed only limited success. By examining the Brisbane Fascist organisation and the reasons for its failure, this article addresses the particular elements that affected the response of Italian emigrants to Fascism and further illuminates the political, class and economic factors which shaped Italian community life in Queensland before World War II. This article has been peer-reviewed.
The recognition and conservation of contemporary history is a growing interest of both professional and lay communities. In creating archives and cultural collections of local and wider interest, collaborative partnerships can produce rich and innovative constructions of history. This paper outlines the development of the Victorian Women on Farms Gathering Heritage Collection which involves a collaborative partnership committed to the appropriate preservation of cultural materials and stories associated with the Women on Farms Gatherings. The Gatherings are an annual event organised in various rural communities across Victoria since 1990, and this paper records the women’s own recognition of their heritage, and the partnership that was subsequently established between representatives from the Gatherings and Museum Victoria. This arrangement enabled pathways in history-making to be forged. The scope of the collection and decision making processes supporting its management are outlined, prior to an analysis of how this collection illustrates generic and theoretical issues surrounding the innovations that can be supported in creating living history.
Recent debate about the history of historiography and the nature of history has tended to polarise between the postmodernist view and various more ‘conservative’ positions. This article critically examines a recent contribution to the debate, Ann Curthoys’ and John Docker’s Is History Fiction?, and proposes an alternative way of understanding the history of historiography that reveals the nature of history in a very different light. This article has been peer-reviewed.
This article considers some of the potential possibilities and pitfalls in teaching History as a compulsory course for professional degrees in areas such as education and journalism. It considers two quite different models for curriculum design based on distinct student cohorts, and suggests some of the dangers that need to be avoided, and some of the arrangements that need to be considered for desirable outcomes, in such service teaching situations.
Popular understandings of the Great Barrier Reef’s early-settler history are anchored to the Endeavour’s crashing in 1770. Recently, however, James Bowen, Margarita Bowen, and Iain McCalman have illuminated the diversity of settler encounters with the Reef. This article builds upon their work. It discusses the first century of settler engagement, specifically the perceptions of explorers towards the Reef. It argues that while the Reef was the site of wrecks, those who threaded through its waters helped foster an appreciation of the Reef’s potential as a safe sea-lane, a site of profitable marine industries, and a source of scientific interest, beauty and cultural heritage.
Early British imperial voyages to Australia did not occur entirely at sea or solely within the sphere of British influence. In the late eighteenth century Britain controlled few ports. Imperial expansion under sail therefore required supplies, rest and repair at the ports of other empires. Indeed, in 1787 the First Fleet laid over in the Atlantic harbours of Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands, Rio de Janeiro in Portuguese Brazil and the Dutch East India Company’s Cape colony in southern Africa. These layovers varied in length from a week to a month. During this time British officials went ashore on imperial business. What is less understood is that other voyagers also visited port townships and hinterlands to explore, socialise and make personal purchases, presenting opportunities to view settler colonialism under other empires. In her study of European travel writing, Mary Louise Pratt termed ‘imperial eyes’ the ways of seeing that produced othering discourses of non-Europeans. Through a new reading of 1787 travel accounts, and others from 1789 and 1791, this article argues that British imperial voyaging to Australia entailed seeing with trans-‘imperial eyes’ in the colonies of other empires. These encounters led to the formation of impressions about indigenous peoples under other colonial rule.
Sydney clay formed one of the earliest points of scientific interest in colonial New South Wales. Thanks to Josiah Wedgwood and Erasmus Darwin, it became associated with elite ideas surrounding the development of a European ‘civilisation’ in the new colony through skilled arts and manufacturing. By following the utilisation of this clay until 1823, this article traces how non-elites adopted these ideas. It uses a methodology focused on material culture that combines the practices and sources of history and historical archaeology. It contends that even non-elite colonists behaved as if ‘civilisation’ was created and maintained by the skilled manufacture and use of certain items such as pottery. This outlook and practice excluded Aboriginal people and culture from the colony from the outset.
Alcohol was a persistent problem for the early governors of New South Wales. Despite repeated orders to limit the volume of spirits allowed into the colony, Phillip, Hunter, King and Bligh all failed to control the trade that helped establish a rival commercial elite and was seen as a leading cause of crime. This regulatory struggle is the basis for an exaggerated view of the distinctive significance of rum in the colony; despite recent revisionism our understanding of the trade still requires a broader context. In fact, the official failure to restrain the trade was unsurprising, given the ubiquity of alcohol in eighteenth century Britain and the peculiar importance of spirits to the colonial economy. But the status of drunkenness as a symbol of disorder meant that the unregulated trade undermined the colony’s status as a convict reformatory and challenged the authority of the early governors.
This article has been peer-reviewed.
The practise of eating kangaroo meat lay at the heart of a complex set of relationships amongst humans and other animals in the early colonial period in Australia. An exploration of this eco-cultural network demonstrates the often overlooked role of Australian native animals in the colonial project. The affordances offered by the members of this network to one another established relationships marked by differing degrees of dependence. It is argued that the meat of kangaroos played an important role in the establishment and expansion of the Australian colonies up to 1850, by which time colonial authorities had begun self-consciously to distance themselves from living kangaroos, maintaining a role only for captive and symbolic animals.
This article has been peer reviewed.
In 1793, Lieutenant-Governor Philip King produced a vocabulary of words in the Māori language. It contained 199 entries, and was based on information he obtained from two Māori chiefs who had been kidnapped and taken to King at Norfolk Island, where work on the Vocabulary took place. This list of translated words inadvertently exposed aspects of the balance of cultural power in the region in this period, and the challenges of developing an orthography for a language that was still predominately oral. It also revealed small insights into the nature of Māori society on the cusp of British colonisation.
This article provides a brief history of the important contribution made by Aboriginal men in the Hunter region of central eastern New South Wales to colonial development from 1800 to 1850. In the Hunter, as in many parts of Australia, Aboriginal men gave critical aid to colonists exploring the vast, difficult terrains and waterways of the country. Aboriginal guides helped colonists in a number of ways, ranging from locating essential human needs such as water and food to discovering rich natural resources like coal and grasslands suitable for pastoral and agricultural industry. In particular instances, for example when individuals joined in major exploring expeditions, their assistance extended far beyond the boundaries of the Hunter region. Their invaluable contributions deserve a meritorious place in Australian exploration history.
This article has been peer-reviewed.
The penal colony of New South Wales occupied an uncertain place within the highly mobile and volatile world of maritime trade. The incidence of maritime madness brought its peculiarities and vulnerabilities into view. This article examines three instances of madness between 1805 and 1812 to which the colony’s governors were forced to respond. Together they show the liabilities madness presented in such a place: the commercial liability faced by investors and merchants and sometimes shared by colonial governments; the liability to fragile colonial hierarchies presented by imposture; and the liability produced by imperfect legal procedure, which opened governments to charges of despotism in the context of personal liberty and private property, key elements of protective lunacy proceedings. The introduction of the commission of lunacy in 1812 was a response to heightened concerns over liberty and property following the 1808–09 rebellion in Sydney, and also demonstrated broader concerns about marginality, mobility and despotism.
In a previous article, ‘Who Wrote “A Visit to the Western Goldfields”?’, our question was left unanswered. Further stylistic analysis has confirmed that this series and two subsequent ones published in the Sydney Morning Herald in the early 1860s were by the same author. Following a strong suggestion that this mystery author may have been Frederick Dalton, writings known to be by him were incorporated into the analysis. Since the only known writings of Dalton (until now) were mining reports, the stylistic analysis tests involved the comparison of writings in different genres. As well as a reporter, Dalton was a miner and geologist, in California as well as Australia, and subsequently a gold commissioner and mining warden in New South Wales. The identification of Dalton’s considerable goldfields writings has enabled us to learn more of one of the pioneers of gold mining in New South Wales.
This article has been peer reviewed.