The History Council of Victoria Incorporated (HCV) is the peak body for history in the Australian state of Victoria. Our vision is to connect Victorians with history and to inspire engagement with the past, their identity and the world today. Read more about our work...
In March 2020, the Board appointed Professor Peter McPhee as its new Chair. Read more...
Due to the international Coronavirus pandemic, the HCV has cancelled or postponed its program of face-to-face activities, at least for the duration of the (southern hemisphere) autumn in 2020. Meanwhile, we are active virtually, making use of the online environment and emails until further notice.
Are you looking for historically-focussed things to do while distancing yourself from social gatherings, or in quarantine? Here some suggestions!
Contribute to public archives that aim to leave a legacy for future historians
A Journal of the Plague Year: An archive of COVID19 - The Melbourne History Workshop invites you to document how COVID-19 has affected your life. Share your story in text, images, video, tweets, texts, Facebook posts, Instagram or Snapchat memes. Include screenshots of the news and emails—anything that speaks to paradoxes of the moment.
Go to: https://covid19.omeka.net/mhw
This global project was initiated by Arizona State University on 13 March 2020. Endorsed by the HCV, the Journal is a way of helping communities understand the extraordinary as well as the ordinary aspects of this pandemic. In the future, historians will be also able to use this record of daily life to understand better the changing nature of our lives.
Bridging the Distance - A Facebook project launched by the National Museum of Australia on 6 April 2020. The NMA is collecting stories, objects, images and video to explore and mark this time in a joint effort with the community, 'to help make sense of what is happening around us and to connect us all socially and emotionally, while we are physically distant'.
Join a community that's organising and improving online historical resources
Help correct the scanned text of historic newspapers and create lists etc. on Trove, the National Library of Australia's repository of full-text digital resources and platform for aggregated information and metadata.
If you manage a collection of heritage items in Victoria, add information about them to the Victorian Collections database.
If you manage the collection of an Australian historical society, back up your collection by creating a physical or digital time capsule. Follow the Local History Backup instructions at: https://www.history.org.au/local-history-backup/
Listen to podcasts about history
There are now many history-focussed audio programs that you can hear via the internet (using a computer or other device), or via a smart phone.
There's a great list of podcasts at: https://player.fm/podcasts/australian-history. Their programs cover many the history of parts of the world, not only the history of Australia.
Visit an online exhibition
Many of the world’s cultural institutions have closed to the public as a preventative measure, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading among visitors, staff and volunteers. Their staff are, however, still at work! Many are actively putting more of their information and resources online. Visit the websites of your favourite institutions (worldwide) and see what they are offering. Search for ‘online exhibitions’ or ‘virtual exhibitions’. Many organisations are also uploading new activities designed for children and students.
Here are links to a number of online Learning Resources, provided by major Australian cultural organisations.
Internationally, don’t miss: https://artsandculture.google.com/explore
Explore the resources of the Federation of Australian Historical Societies
Start at: https://www.history.org.au/enews/
There you can access past eBulletins and Newsletters, packed with updates from historical societies across the country. The FAHS website also holds other resources of relevance to historians and people interested in history.
Catch up on your reading of books by historians
Although most public lending libraries are currently closed, many bookshops (including second-hand booksellers) will take orders online or by telephone, and will deliver by post.
Which history texts have you enjoyed lately? Visit our Facebook page to share your recommendations for the benefit of all.
Host or join an online activity that brings history-focussed people together
Many book groups and reading circles have shifted their face-to-face meetings to a teleconference format.
Some historians have launched online projects using social networking services such as Facebook or other online tools - for discussion, learning and new research.
Here are some examples:
Shut Up and Write/Create - online WebEx sessions for individuals writing history or creating history (be it artwork, a musical score, choreography planning, and so forth).
Reflect - are we learning from the history of pandemics?
In 2019, one of the Making Public Histories seminars focussed on 'Death, disease and pandemics'. Those who attended emerged much better informed about Australia's past responses: to the Spanish Flu of 1919, the terror of polio, and the AIDS crisis.
Australian historians are now sharing more widely their perspectives on historical pandemics. Here are some recent articles that should encourage readers to reflect on the lessons of history:
Geoffrey Blainey, 'Complacency lulled us into delusion', The Weekend Australian, 21-22 March 2020.
Frank Bongiorno, 'How Australia’s response to the Spanish flu of 1919 sounds warnings on dealing with coronavirus', The Conversation, 22 March 2020.
Debbie Cuthbertson, 'What we can learn from Victoria's Spanish flu outbreak of 1919', The Age, 22 March 2020.
This article includes an interview with Mary Sheehan, professional historian and one of the speakers at our 2019 seminar.
For a light-hearted take on the historical relationship between disease, social distancing and fashion, we recommend this short video from the USA version of The Conversation.
Take a moment to endorse the importance of history!
Read and endorse the Value of History statement that was published last year by the four History Councils in Australia.
Can you recommend other activities that we could add to the above list? Please get in touch!
If you have suggestions that would assist the HCV in its work during these extremely challenging times, please contact us.