Records of women's history are often missing or obscured in archives such as these, but with creativity and persistence historians can do a lot to recognise the enormous contribution of women to our society in the past.
Archives are not neutral. We can’t keep everything so choices have to be made and those choices reflect the values of the people making the decisions about what to keep and what to discard. In the past people such as women, non-Europeans, Aborigines, the poor etc were not considered important contributors to our history so their stories are often not portrayed in archival records, or they were obscured in the archives by the social conventions of the time. If the archival records were taken at face value they would reveal a distorted view of the past. It is the job of historians to be alert to this distortion, to question the records and to look for the fleeting clues that indicate that there is something missing.
Women are often the subject of archival silences and diminution. I confronted this when researching for my honours thesis about the Queensland ‘Bible in State Schools’ referendum of 1910. In this article one of Brisbane’s major newspapers attributed the passing of the referendum to the role of women. Just five years previously most women in Queensland had been granted the right to vote at state polls. A statement in the Anglican Church’s newsletter, The Church Chronicle, indicated that women didn’t just vote, they immersed themselves in the campaigning work. This was an era when women were not considered important contributors to politics, yet they were being publicly acknowledged for their significant contribution by major media outlets. I wanted to know more. Continue reading →
We have had lots of fun playing family cricket on the nearby oval these holidays. Here I am wicket keeping while my sister-in-law is batting. Photo by Ian Woolward
Blogs and cricket have something important in common – statistics! This week I’ve enjoyed spending lots of time with my family visiting from interstate and watching the exciting Boxing Day test match between India and Australia. It was a great example of test cricket – four days of see-sawing between the teams until Australia finally won. I tried to write a blog post while watching the cricket but the cricket was way too interesting for me to write anything worth posting. Instead, I thought I would join the other bloggers out there and create a list of the posts on this blog that generated the most hits in 2011. Continue reading →
‘Secularism or Democracy? Associational Governance of Religious Diversity by Veit Bader, (Amsterdam University Press, 2007).
This is a comprehensive book that explores issues of religion and state such as what role should religions have vis-a-vis the state, the role of secularism in government and society and how the state can deal fairly with the various religions. The author, Veit Bader, is an emeritus professor of sociology and philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. This is an academically rigorous book. It is most definitely not bedtime reading. However, if you want a deeply thought and carefully argued book that does not shirk difficult questions or pose glib solutions this book is for you.
“The regime of the coin tea has come”, declared ‘Sympathiser‘ in the Brisbane Courier in 1909. This announcement was apt. If you do a search for ‘coin tea’ on the National Library of Australia’s online newspaper database (Trove) you will be struck by how popular this form of fundraising appears to have been in Queensland during the early twentieth century until the outbreak of World War II. 94% of articles and advertisements containing the phrase ‘coin tea’ in the Trove database (as at 28/7/2011) were published in Queensland. Continue reading →
Over the last week I finally got a chance to try out the tools that Wragge (aka Tim Sherratt) has devised to mine digitised historic Australian newspapers accessed through Trove. This post is about the results of applying his tools. If you want to do this yourself check out Wragge’s posts, Mining the Treasures of Trove (Part 1) and (Part 2). Firstly let’s look at Wragge’s graph of a topic that I have been writing about this year – floods.
Wragge's graph of the occurrence of the word "flood" in Australian newspapers since the early 19th century.
Wragge has produced the graph above showing the occurrence of the word “floods” in Australian newspapers digitised and accessible on the Trove website. As we would expect the word is mentioned more in years when there was severe flooding such as 1893.