Wikipedia and history

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at 06:00 PM


Old Treasury Building
20 Spring St
East Melbourne, Victoria 3002
Google map and directions

Event contact

Margaret Birtley

0418 814 957

As one of the world's top ten websites, Wikipedia has overtaken traditional publications as the world's most accessed knowledge resource. What does this mean for the telling and discovery of Australia’s multi-layered histories? Is Wikipedia telling our history well, or not?

Built on a model of openly editable content, Wikipedia is created collaboratively. Almost anyone can contribute, providing they have Internet access, time to learn the skills, and willingness to write articles and make changes, voluntarily. Are our historians and history-focussed organisations using Wikipedia effectively to:

  • tell or edit the stories and the wider histories of our many communities?
  • disseminate knowledge in ways that enable discovery and encourage re-use and re-purposing?
  • reach new audiences?

If not, should they be?

This seminar will open up a new conversation between expert historians, contributors of historical information to Wikipedia, educators, and those who use Wikipedia as a secondary source for details about heritage places, historic events and significant people.

The seminar will be chaired by Pru Mitchell, President of Wikimedia Australia.

A panel of invited presenters will share their observations on Wikipedia’s role in representing aspects of Australian history through diverse themes, and in the context of regional, national and international relationships.

Dr Mary Tomsic of The University of Melbourne is co-author of Balancing the history books one Wikipedia entry at a time and will discuss the role for historians to work to improve social and cultural diversity on Wikipedia.

Justine Clark is co-founder of Parlour; women, equity, architecture. She will speak about how the Parlour team took on Wikipedia in their advocacy work on women, equity and architecture in Australia.

Associate Professor Murray Phillips from The University of Queensland will report on his team’s digital research project, Creating Histories of the Australian Paralympic Movement, which uses Wikipedia as a platform. Murray is co-author of the 2015 book: Sport History in the Digital Era.

The audience at this seminar will have the opportunity to present their own insights and to ask questions of the panellists.

Please book your seat at this free event by clicking the RSVP button at the foot of this page.

With thanks to our event sponsor, Wikimedia Australia, and the series sponsors, Monash University Publishing and the Monash University History Program:

Monash University Publishing   Monash University History Program 

and the organising partners:

Old Treasury Building     Monash University History Program      HCV

The seminar is part of an ongoing series, Making Public Histories, that is offered jointly by the Monash University History Program, the History Council of Victoria and the Old Treasury Building. Each seminar aims to explore issues and approaches in making public histories. The seminars are open, free of charge, to anyone interested in the creation and impact of history in contemporary society. Click HERE to learn about other events in the series.

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The History Council of Victoria Incorporated (HCV) is the peak body for history in the Australian state of Victoria. Its vision is to connect Victorians with history and to inspire engagement with the past, their identity and the world today. The HCV champions the work of historians and the value of history. It recognises that history can be written about any place, any person, any period. The HCV advocates why history matters.

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Our calendar lists all upcoming public events arranged by the History Council of Victoria (HCV), plus events in Victoria, Australia, that are added by our Friends and Members.

If you are organising an event that relates to History, we encourage you to publicise it on our website.

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As the peak body for history in Victoria, the History Council makes submissions on current issues. In doing this, the HCV Board is guided by its Advocacy Policy and by the Value of History, a statement developed co-operatively by the HCV and the History Councils of New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.

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Since 2015, the HCV has been pleased to sponsor the Years 9 and 10 category of the Historical Fiction Competition organised by the History Teachers' Association of Victoria.

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The HCV was formed as an advisory body in 2001 and incorporated in 2003. It comprises representatives from cultural and educational institutions and heritage bodies; history teachers and curriculum advisors; academic and professional historians; and local, Indigenous, community and specialist history organisations.

As the peak body for history, the HCV has both ‘outward-looking’ roles (including advocacy and representation to government and the wider community, consultation, community education, and networking with allied interest groups) and ‘inward-looking’ roles (including member support, information dissemination, and networking between members).



The History Council of Victoria acknowledges the State Library of Victoria and the Public Record Office Victoria for supply of the archival images that appear on this website.

We acknowledge the National Film and Sound Archive for the right to use of the video footage on the home page, titled "Melbourne: Life in Australia (1966)".

Image credits

  • Italian sailors on ship at Port Melbourne 1938, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
  • Chinese procession in Collins near Elizabeth Street 1901, Harvie & Sutcliffe, photographers, State Library of Victoria
  • People’s homes, Aboriginal station Coranderrk 1878, Fred Kruger Photographer, State Library of Victoria
  • Chinese nurses at Children’s Hospital under scholarship 1947, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
  • Ladies physical culture class VRI Melbourne c1931, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12903/P0001, 011/02
  • Melbourne Cup, Derby and Oaks Day, Flemington Racecourse 1936, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12903/P0001/4802, 372/30
  • Flinders Street viaduct at foot of Market Street with advertisement for McRobertson’s Chocolate on bridge, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12800/P0003, ADV 1342