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Making Public Histories Seminar Series

The Making Public Histories Seminar Series is offered jointly by the Monash University Institute for Public History, History Council of Victoria and the State Library of Victoria.

The series is presented in the Village Roadshow Theatrette at the State Library of Victoria, Melbourme, between March and November each year.

The aim of this series is to present topical seminars on a range of themes relating to public history. Timely connections are made wherever possible to other events in the cultural calendar.  

Over time, the series has explored a range of issues and approaches in the making of public histories.

Each seminar is open to anyone interested in historical representation in contemporary society.

Coming soon: 2014 program


Past program (2013): 

Time: 5.30-7.00 pm

Location: State Library of Victoria
Enquiries/ Bookings:
03 8664 7099
Event email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Cost: Free

Thursday April 18th

Anzac Memories Revisited: family history and Australian war remembrance

  In a forthcoming edition of his 1994 study of Anzac memory and mythology, Alistair Thomson returns to a family war history that he could not write about twenty years ago because of the stigma of war and mental illness, and uses newly-released Repatriation files to question his earlier account of WW1 veterans’ post-war lives and memories and to think afresh about war and memory. Carolyn Holbrook takes up the remembering of these private war histories beyond the lives of veterans themselves.  She examines family practices of collecting, preserving and re-presenting the experiences of soldier-ancestors, to suggest that a century from the war itself, Anzac memories are in a constant state of reinterpretation. Speakers: Al Thomson (Monash) and Carolyn Holbrook (Melbourne University)   

Thursday May 9th  

Apologising for the Past

 Five years after Prime Minister Rudd apologised to Australia’s Indigenous peoples, what is the role of apologies in the way nations deal with their pasts? Speakers: Marian Quartly (Monash), Robert Manne (La Trobe) and Miranda Johnson (University of Sydney)   

Thursday July 18th

First Peoples Exhibition at Bunjilaka, Melbourne Museum

Bunjilaka at the Melbourne Museum is a living Aboriginal cultural centre that celebrates the strength and vitality of Koorie people in Victoria. A major exhibition redevelopment will strengthen and revitalise Bunjilaka as a place to celebrate and engage with the cultures and histories of Victoria’s first people.  Members of the exhibition team discuss their experiences of creating First Peoples, the new major exhibition at Bunjilaka, opening in mid-July.  The exhibition has been created with extensive community consultation and co-curation by members of Victoria’s Aboriginal community. The First Peoples Yulendj Group has brought stories, culture and knowledge to every aspect of the exhibition development. Speakers will include:
·         Genevieve Grieves, lead curator
·         Caroline Martin, manager, Bunjilaka
·         Amanda Reynolds, senior curator
·         Members of the First Peoples Yulendj Group       

Thursday July 25th  

HCV Annual Lecture - Professor Harriet Edquist (RMIT), "From architecture to ornament: the Melbourne Public Library in the nineteenth century"

In celebration of the centenary of the domed La Trobe Reading Room, Professor Harriet Edquist will reflect on the intersections of design and architectural history with the history of Melbourne and its public library, now the State Library of Victoria. Professor Edquist will also look at one of the featured items in the 'Enchanted Dome' exhibition, Owen Jones's book, The Grammar of Ornament, its influence on colonial liberals such as judge Sir Redmond Barry and architect Joseph Reed, and the design of Melbourne's historic public buildings. Harriet Edquist is Professor of Architectural History at RMIT, Director of the RMIT Design Archives, and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects. She has published extensively on Australian architecture and she has contributed significantly to the Library's Dome Centenary Celebrations, including curating the exhibition 'Free, Secular and Democratic'  

Monday Aug 5th

Aftermath: Sites and Sources of History and Memory

This seminar will explore the themes of Holocaust and Genocide Studies and consider how scholars and archivists incorporate sources encompassing memoirs, architectures, testimonies, photographs and moving image footage into the writing of the Holocaust in particular, and genocides more broadly. This seminar forms part of the public program of the 3rd Dr Jan Randa Conference in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, hosted by the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation in partnership with the History Program at Monash University and the University of Warwick.


Thursday 19th September

Drought Stories, past and present

Dr Deb Anderson, National Centre for Australian Studies, Monash University

Prof. Katie Holmes, History, La Trobe University

Dr Ruth Morgan, History, Monash University

Chair: Prof. Al Thomson, History, Monash University

Droughts have long punctuated Australia’s rural, regional and national histories. In this seminar, Deb Anderson, Katie Holmes and Ruth Morgan consider how Victorians and Western Australians in the Mallee and the Wheatbelt have experienced drought and climate change over the past century.

Drawing on the oral history collections of Museum Victoria, the State Library of Western Australia and the National Library of Australia, this seminar will explore how rural Australians have imagined their landscape, and developed their own narratives of hope and endurance in a changing world.

Thursday 10th October

'Beers and bombs: tourism to Bali as international history'

Dr Agnieszka Sobocinska

Deputy Director, National Centre for Australian Studies

Over a decade after the bombings of October 2002, Agnieszka Sobocinska examines the changing place of Bali in the hearts and minds of Australian tourists in the wider context of Australia’s historic engagement with Asia.

Thursday 28th November

Stuff that Matters to Kids: The Heritage of Children and Childhood

 Dr June Factor  - Honorary Senior Research Fellow, University of Melbourne.

Dr Carla Pascoe - Research Fellow, University of Melbourne; Honorary Associate of Museum Victoria; and professional historian.

Sarah Rood – Professional historian

Join June Factor, Carla Pascoe and Sarah Rood for a lively discussion of what kinds of things have been important to children and how we might preserve and protect them. In this special themed panel, we will take a close look at the emerging field of children’s cultural heritage. Our presenters will talk about their experiences researching and collecting examples of children’s folklore, childhood memories and the special places of childhood, as well as exploring how children relate to the concept of the past, before opening up general discussion on this fascinating topic.

June Factor is internationally-recognised for her publications on children’s lore and language. She is an editor of the International Journal of Play and an Honorary Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Her extensive field notes from Australian playgrounds are preserved in the Australian Children’s Folklore Collection at Museum Victoria. Carla Pascoe is a professional historian and a Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne. In addition to recently co-editing the volume Children, Childhood and Cultural Heritage, her doctoral research explored the buildings and landscapes that were significant to children of the 1950s. Sarah Rood is a principal historian with Way Back When Consulting Historians.  Her considerable oral history experience includes conducting sometimes difficult interviews for the Forgotten Australian and Former Child Migrants Oral History Project.