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Conference 2013 Speakers

Keynote Speakers:

Associate Professor David Goodman

Goldfields Comparisons: Georgia (USA) 1820s, New Zealand, California and Victorian Goldrushes  

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Associate Professor David Goodman, University of Melbourne.

David teaches US history at the University of Melbourne. He is the author of the 1994 book Gold Seeking: Victoria and California in the 1850s (Allen and Unwin and Stanford University Press) and more recently of Radio’s Civic Ambition: American Broadcasting and Democracy in the 1930s (Oxford University Press).

There were really significant differences in the way fundamental questions about the ownership of land and gold, the rights of indigenous owners, and the market were understood and resolved in the different English-speaking 19th century gold-rush societies. This paper compares the gold rushes to Georgia (USA) in the 1820s with those to California, Australia and New Zealand in the 1850s and 60s. Placing the Victorian gold rushes in this longer cycle makes clearer some of their distinctive characteristics.

Even if our interest in gold-rush history is mainly local, it helps to have a much larger time and space frame in view, so that we do not confuse the beliefs of a particular time and place with human nature. In fact unless we situate gold rushes in the context of the ideas and understandings of their time and place, every rush looks the same – colourful characters, first discoveries, amusing incidents – and they remain events of local and antiquarian rather than historical interest.

Leigh Olver

“Blood and Bone”: Discovering Ned Kelly


  • Born and raised in the Victorian central goldfields town of Maryborough.
  • ‘Fine Arts Degree’ (Ballarat CAE) – now Ballarat Uni.
  • ‘Post Graduate Diploma Fine Art’ (RMIT).
  • ‘Diploma Education’ Bendigo CAE –  La Trobe  Uni
  • Awarded RMIT Painting Travel Scholarship and travelled extensively throughout Europe/USA.
  • Various exhibitions
  • Worked as a Secondary Art Teacher for over 22 years (various schools).
  • Avid interest in Ned Kelly Family History and a Ned Kelly descendant via the King branch.
  • Involved with various Ned Kelly events, including recently providing the DNA sample which assisted with the identification of Ned Kelly’s remains.


Blood and Bone”

The infamous Pentridge Prison of Melbourne was known to contain within the precinct, the remains of Ned Kelly and other prisoners who were reinterred there from the Old Melbourne Gaol in 1929. Upon locating these jumbled remains of prisoners, a nationwide call was made through media to find a suitable candidate/descendant who could provide a sample of DNA to help confirm the identity of Ned Kelly amongst the various remains.

I received a phone call one afternoon from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine which proved to be the beginning of a roller coaster journey into forensics, family politics, police backlash, intense media focus and the further search for missing descendants.

During my address I will attempt to reflect on some of my experiences with VIFM and what it has meant for myself and the extended family to suddenly be confronted with the duty to finally lay Ned Kelly’s remains to rest.

Pharos February 2013 FinalProfessor Robert Pascoe

The Footy Tribes of Ballarat

Robert Pascoe is a Professor of History and Dean Laureate at Victoria University in Melbourne and the author of the The Winter Game (1995). With Mark Pennings of QUT he is co-authoring a new multi-volume series on football in colonial Victoria, published in Ballan by Connor Court. Robert is a well known historian, author & experienced media commentator.


Aficiondos of Australian football can count Ballarat as one of its ancestral locations, with some evidence of games on the goldfields in the 1850s. The first senior club, Ballarat, was formed in 1862, and other senior clubs, Ballarat Imperial and South Ballarat, joined the senior ranks of the VFA in 1887. Who played for these clubs?  What was their supporter base? How does the history of football in colonial Ballarat contribute to our understanding of the city’s development in that period? And, most pertinently, why was Ballarat not included in the VFL when it took shape at the end of 1896?

Four Speakers & Convenor – Plenary Session

Private Lives: Public Images:

Is Family History JUST for the family or should it be for a broader audience?

Convenor: Helen Bath


Helen has been the Operations Manager [Voluntary] of Ballarat Community FM Radio Co-op Ltd Trading as: 99.9 Voice FM since 2008. She works with an amazing team of volunteers, partnerships with Community Groups and Organizations. Helen secures grants to enable equipment upgrade and replacement and manages the website content and music library. She is also responsible for the ongoing development of policy and procedures at Voice FM.

Dr Kate Prinsley

Executive Officer RHSV

Kate Prinsley has been the Executive Officer of the RHSV for the past six years. She was the first director of the Florence Nightingale Museum in London where she won the London Tourist Board’s top award for marketing; and an English Tourism Award. Kate enjoys working with historical societies and volunteers as we all share a passion for history, working with collections and working within our communities.

She was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to investigate the sustainability of local history within communities. The research was both inspiring and thought provoking with the greatest pleasure coming from the many museum professionals that she met who would begin their greeting with “we look to Australia – you do things well”.

Megan Gibson

Megan Gibson Family Tree Time fobwatch 1-20

“Before it’s too late” is the motto of Family Tree Time founder, freelance author and family tree researcher Megan Gibson, who had a wake-up call when a relative passed away, taking many family stories to the grave. As a teenager attending every family history course she could, later studying Australian history at university, through to working in organisational roles on national TV productions such as Playhouse Disney and Australian Idol, and later as Executive Assistant for the-then Deputy Director of the National Film & Sound Archive, Megan’s experience in media and history led to work as a freelance researcher on some episodes of the hit Australian TV series Who Do You Think You Are?.

Megan’s own list of timesaving research and organising tips grew into her book, How To Get More Family Tree Time – Tips for the Time Poor!, as well as many “tips & tales” seminars for audiences Australia-wide. Through her media and research work, Megan often faces the theoretical and practical issues of how to balance preserving family history truthfully, often for a wider audience, with the responsibilities of respecting family sensitivities and privacy.

A member of the Society of Australian Genealogists and the Oral History Association of Australia, and a former magazine editor, Megan writes for magazines (eg Inside History), takes on research for clients around Australia, has been a guest on radio (eg ABC Radio National) and speaks at family history events (eg “It’s All Relative”, National Library of Australia 2012). Her passion is to help people beat the “I’m too busy” blues to start or progress with their family tree research …before it’s too late.

Read more about Megan at

Michael Taffe

PENTAX ImageMichael’s career has been in education, welfare, history and archives.  He is the Catholic Diocesan archivist and school archivist at Loreto College. He holds related diplomas and also degrees in English and History with an MA in history. His major research explored Victoria’s Avenues of Honour and civic image through the landscape. Many journal articles and two histories, Exploring Ballarat’s Garden Heritage, and Love One Another, a centenary history of Ballarat’s Cathedral Conference of St Vincent de Paul, have been published. Michael is a people person, a horticulturalist, past Secretary of Eureka’s Children, and an avid bibliophile whose book collecting interests have been published here and in the UK. Michael is the president of Central Highlands Historical Association.

Val Noone

ValDoctor Val Noone is an Australian historian who has written extensively on social history and has a particular interest in the history of the Irish Language in Victoria, Australia, in its social, cultural and linguistic aspects. He is an Honorary Fellow of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne.

He completed a degree in Biblical studies, at Corpus Christi College, Melbourne and his doctoral thesis on religious attitudes to war. He spent a number of years as a priest and retains a strong interest in the social history of the Church.

He has published many books, articles and reviews, and has been a co-contributor to historical articles in Irish published by the Irish journal Feasta. He is a member of the Irish Language Society of Australia and was the editor of Táin, the magazine of the Irish Australian Network, which ceased publication in 2007. His most notable recent work is Hidden Ireland in Victoria, an overview of the history of the Irish language in south eastern Australia. He was awarded a medal of the Order of Australia in June 2009.

Speakers for Sessions

Noelene Allen

Noelene crop at CourthouseThe Trials, Tragedies & Triumphs: Kelly Women  

Noelene Allen was born in Sydney and moved to Tamworth in Northern NSW.  Following a successful career in retail management and teaching at TAFE, a move to Beechworth in 1999, when the Beechworth Historic & Cultural Precinct was in its infancy, saw Noelene join the band of Precinct Volunteer where her interest in Ellen Kelly and the women of the Kelly family began. She was the Coordinator of the Beechworth Historic & Cultural Precinct until her retirement in 2009.

Conducting tours focusing on Ellen Kelly and the women of the Kelly family in the Precinct and national TV travel shows saw her receive many invitations to speak to groups throughout Victoria.

“The Trials, Tragedies & Triumphs: Kelly Women” is her first book and the many people who have enjoyed her talks and tours will no doubt be eager to see in print her intimate knowledge of the previously untold extraordinary story of Ellen.

Nathaniel Buchanan

Insanity on the Goldfields: Victoria’s Lunatic Asylums

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Nathaniel Buchanan and Adam Wynne-Jenkins are the operators of the largest privately owned dark tourism business in Australia. Fascinated by total institutions, the duo delve into parts of our history that most others ignore – the incarcerated. Like Cold Case the duo uncover stories and facts that were hidden from the ‘normal’ community that bring evidence to light that are ‘gems’ for the family historian. Both Nathaniel and Adam have conducted historical tours throughout the world and currently lead well researched tours of Aradale (formerly Ararat Lunatic Asylum), Beechworth Asylum, Old Geelong Gaol, Lydiard St. Ballarat, and The Ballarat Old Cemetery.

Opened in 1867, Ararat and Beechworth became home to two of the largest lunatic asylums in Australia. Built to house the growing number of mentally ill in the colony, over the next 140 years these enormous facilities served as the home of tens of thousands of society’s outcasts.

Using ghost stories as a vehicle for teaching history in an entertaining way, over the past few years, Nathaniel and Adam have told the story of these building to around 100,000 people. Their research has involved architecture, philosophies on madness and its treatments, and also personal stories of both patients and staff.

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Dr Fred Cahir

Black Gold: Aboriginals on the Gold Fields of Victoria

Senior Lecturer at University of Ballarat. His book:  “Black Gold: Aboriginals on the Gold Fields Victoria”  is a part of the first history that documents the role of Aboriginal people on the Gold Fields of Victoria during 1850 to 1870. It details their extensive involvement as miners, police, traders, entertainers and activists.

Fred Cahir:  author & winner of the 2008 Alan Martin Award – expert on Victoria’s Aboriginal history


Victorian Aboriginal families figured significantly in the gold epoch, their involvement ranging from passive presence, active discovery, to shunning the goldfields. A great degree of Aboriginal agency shall be highlighted. Striking and consistent evidence is presented which demonstrates that many Aboriginal families remained in the gold areas, participated in gold mining and interacted with non-Indigenous families in a whole range of hitherto neglected ways, whilst maintaining many of their traditional customs.

Di CampbellDianne Campbell MA

 Lawyers, Publicans & Women

Dianne is a legal historian, freelance writer/editor and author – her interests include the history of lawyers and legal practice on the goldfields of Australasia  & the Anglo-Irish in Australia. She has been involved in the management of NFP organisations since 1976 and in 1987 she was appointed Hon. Secretary at the Emerald Community House by the Shire of Sherbrook, Victoria.

In 1990, Di and her family moved to the provincial city of Ballarat. In 1994, she established the Award winning Central Highlands Waterwatch program whilst project managing creation of Central Highlands Water’s Award winning education materials. Other committee memberships have included: the Board of Life Education Ballarat (1991-1999), Ballarat Theatre Organ Society, and the Back to Invermay Committee.

In 2007, Di joined Marion Parsonage and together they oversaw the expansion of The Act of Kindness Inc. across Victoria, NSW and SA. In keeping with her commitment to the philosophy of life long education, Di is currently a member of the City of Ballarat’s Heritage Advisory Committee; Central Highlands Historical Assn committee; the committee of Victorian Interpretive Projects Inc., and Treasurer, Invermay Local History Association.


This presentation will reveal how goldfields lawyers and their wives found ways to successfully establish themselves in important businesses beyond the confines the Local Courts and legal practice on the goldfields of Central Victoria 1851-1886. It is not widely recognised that many Notarys, solicitors and barristers on colonial goldfields – along with the women in their lives – commonly took an active interest in the establishment of new schools, hospitals, women’s refuges and cultural organisations, along with other businesses associated with pastoral pursuits and mining (or other trades).For example, when two Irish born brothers decided to exit legal practice, few would have believed they would become the founders of an iconic Australian brewing dynasty. Ultimately, this presentation aims to demonstrate the ways in which local lawyers, and their wives and daughters influenced the daily lives of goldfields communities for the better, in Victoria and beyond.


Jan Croggon

Dr Jan Croggon

“So good, so gentle, trustful, fond and true”: Towards a broader understanding of the position of women on the goldfields

Jan Croggon is Senior Historian at The Sovereign Hill Museum Association Ballarat. She is a graduate of the University of Melbourne and Ballarat, a Senior Visiting Fellow of the University of Ballarat and is a member of the Ballarat Australian History Network. She has been closely associated with Museums Australia (Victoria), retiring as Vice president in May 2012.


In the 19th century, it was widely recognised that the family was a fundamental cornerstone of society.  It was seen as becoming even more important in the male-dominated goldfields societies of Australia, with women at the heart of the family unit.  They were seen as vital for achieving balance and civilisation in society.

This paper will briefly explore the paradox of the Victorian woman as she emerged on the goldfields: believed to be weak, yet in reality strong, ‘foolish’, yet amazingly capable and adaptable.  In the challenging world of the gold rush, the role of women was being reviewed and re-assessed: women were becoming aware that here was an environment in which they might exercise rights and privileges which normally belonged exclusively to men.

Dr Anne Doggett

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Music on the Victorian Goldfields

Anne researches and writes about the music of colonial Australia, and has published articles in national and international journals. She has an MA in Japaneseliterature, and a PhD in musicology. As a keen change ringer, she has rung several peals on tower bells and hand held bells, and has co-authored a book about the history of bells in Melbourne, as well as writing a history of the bells in the Ballarat Town Hall. After co-authoring See How They Ring!: Travelling Bellringers on the Australasian Popular Stage she is currently busy working on a history of town criers in Australia.


It is not surprising that different music practices throughout history reflect the spirit of the age and help us to understand it better. The enormous amount of music performed in Ballarat during the goldrush period is a rich source through which to explore many diverse aspects of this colonial society. Music was a way of engaging with people and ideas; it helped people identify with cultural norms, and offered a pathway to the spiritual and transcendent. It was a shaping influence on people and communities. In this talk we will listen to some of the music performed on the goldfields and consider its role in the way our forebears observed and negotiated their place in the world.

Marc Eiden

ABC Open producer Marc Eiden psDigital Storytelling with ABC Open

Marc Eiden is a regional producer for ABC Open based in Ballarat.

ABC Open aims to give people in regional communities the skills to tell the stories that matter to them in their own words and using the photos and videos they’ve produced.

Marc has worked in multimedia and online video at The Age/Fairfax Digital, has illustrated a children’s book, and created filmclips for bands, animations, and various short films. You can follow Marc’s ABC Open blog here:


ABC Open producer Marc Eiden will take you behind-the-scenes on how ABC Open stories are being made and shared by people in regional communities.

With a focus on Ballarat contributors, Marc will show examples and share insights into how people are using inexpensive digital tools to make videos, take photos, record audio, and connect with an online audience.

Find out how you can get involved in ABC Open and share your story too.

What is ABC Open

ABC Open invites regional communities to produce and publish photos, stories, videos, and sound through the ABC.

We all know the media is changing, with more and more people making their own videos, writing stories and sharing photos and ideas through social media. ABC Open is an exciting initiative which provides a focal point for Australian regional communities who want to get involved in sharing their experiences through the ABC via websites, radio and TV.

Belinda Ensor

imageVictorian Collections

Belinda is an historian who makes films. With a background working for museums, universities and as a commercial consultant, Belinda holds the unwavering conviction that story telling can make the world a better place.

She has completed an MA (Public History) at Monash University and a Postgraduate Diploma in Film and Television (Producing) at VCA. Belinda’s role with MA(Vic) on Victorian Collections began in October 2012 and she is simultaneously undertaking a VCA & MCM Professional Pathways Scholarship developing a documentary and festival programming for the Emerging Writers’ Festival.

Dr Charles Fahey

jcfaheyThe Cornish on the Victorian Goldfields

Charles Fahey teaches history at La Trobe University. He is the co-ordinator of a first year subject – Global Migration Stories – which is taught at Melbourne, Bendigo, Shepparton and Mildura. Students in this course have to write their own global migration story and the course introduces many of them to archives, and family history sources. He has written extensively on the Victorian goldfields and with Alan Mayne published, Gold Tailings: Forgotten Histories of Family and Community on the Central Victorian Goldfields (2010). With Lionel Frost and Keir Reeves he was a guest editor of the Australian Economic History Review – A World in Search of Gold (2010). Charles Fahey’s other publications have been in the history of agriculture and the history of labour markets in Australia. He is currently part of a team researching and writing a history of Australia’s southern mallee landscapes, financed by the Australian Research Council.


This paper will look at Cornish migrants on the Victorian goldfields. The Cornish worked as alluvial miners in the first phase of mining but they played a critical part in the opening up quartz reefs. As migrants the Cornish more often came to Victoria in family groups than other migrants. Many families fled the declining opportunities in first copper and the tin mining. In Victoria they built close knit communities around the mines, and imported their traditions of house building and their adherence to non-conformist chapels. They played an important part in the formation of miners’ unions. The Cornish continued in mining when many other groups – the Irish for example – moved out and many found themselves trapped in a declining industry and one that was injurious to their health. Although the paper is based on extensive analysis of birth, death and marriage records, a number of literate Cornishmen have left us with detailed journals.

Katie Flack

Katie Flack Genealogy Librarian  at the State LIBRARY OF VICTORIDigitisation at the State Library of Victoria: An Overview

Katie Flack is Collections Coordinator at the State Library of Victoria, where she advises on the digitisation and marketing of Library collections. She is also a team leader and reference librarian in the Library’s Australian History & Literature Team, where she gets to indulge her lifelong passion for Victorian history. In 2011, Katie was awarded the Library’s Jane Nicholas Staff Fellowship to research Melbourne’s Pansy ‘La Milo’ Montague, an actress who found fame in the early 1900s posing on stage as classical statues.


At this session Katie Flack and Monika McIntyre will give a short history of digitising at the State Library of Victoria, covering early digitising projects and describing how digitising practices have changed over the years. They will also describe current standards and practices, how various materials are digitised and presented through the State Library’s catalogue, and give an update on current and recent digitising projects.

Charlie Farrugia

Victoria’s Inquest Records

Charlie Farrugia is the Senior Collections Advisor at Public Record Office Victoria.  He is the longest serving member of the current staff having commenced his career there during 1985.  In that time he has worked extensively with the PROV Collection in many contexts in most areas of theOffice.  During 2003 he assisted Professor E.W Russell by undertaking research for A Matter of Record. A History Of Public Record Office Victoria.


In this presentation, Charlie Farrugia will describe Public Record Office Victoria’s (PROV) holdings of inquest/coronial records which extend back to the 1840’s. He will describe the function, content and show how these records can be located and ordered within the PROV’s on line catalogue.  He will also provide an update on the progress of their digitisation and show how digital representations of these records can be eventually accessed.

Susan Fayad

Heritage at Your Fingertips  BIO_Susan Fayad_Edit 3

Susan Fayad is the Coordinator Heritage, City of Ballarat. Susan brings a multidisciplinary skill-set to her position as Coordinator Heritage at the City of Ballarat and has been instrumental in developing the Preserving Ballarat’s Heritage Strategy which has received awards from the Heritage Council of Victoria and Planning Institute of Australia (Victoria).


Heritage places and objects can help tell us a lot about how past generations lived, worked and played. They can provide a world of information that helps build a holistic picture of our past. They are the tangible evidence of generations gone by and generations present.

Sustainable conservation of our tangible heritage can only occur if we first understand and appreciate this significant asset. Key to this understanding is being able to access our heritage and history.

The Victorian State Government, through Heritage Victoria, has been working with Councils across the state to make the wealth of information in extensive Council heritage studies easily accessible to the public. The Ballarat Heritage Database is the latest example of this work and is one easy and exciting way of finding out information about tangible heritage. This session will explain some of the information available and take a tour around these exciting heritage databases.

Clare Gervasoni

Clare Gerva cropA Confusion of Tongues: The Multicultural Goldfields

Clare is the curator of the Art & Historical Collections at University of Ballarat, director Ballarat Heritage Services,genealogist & consulting historian with an interest in pre-1900 non-English speakers in Australia. She started delving into family history as a teenager and hasn’t stopped since. Connections to items made and used by her goldfields Italian family fostered an interest into non-English speakers in Australia and New Zealand before 1900. She is also interested in the impact of being part of a minority group in early Australian Communities. Clare is interested in storytelling through artefacts, and uncovering information ‘lost’ in records. She curated the permanent Camp to City exhibition at the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum, and was involved with the Wine, Water and Stone exhibition at Melbourne’s Immigration Museum.  Clare has authored a number of well received books including Bullboar, Macaroni and Mineral Water: Spa Countries Swiss & Italian Story, Directory and Bibliography of Swiss and Italian Settlers in Australasia, and co-authored the award winning Eureka Encyclopaedia.


Since the early 1970s Australia has been described as a multicultural society with many believing this to be a post war phenomenon. When delving into goldfields ancestry it quickly becomes obvious that goldseekers arrived from all corners of the globe, and spoke many differing languages. This talk will delve into some experiences of non-English speakers on the Victorian goldfields and will describe how they overcame a ‘confusion of tongues’ during their first years in Australia. Using examples of difficulties add successes experienced by Italian speakers on the Jim Crow (Daylesford), it can easily be assumed that other non-English speaking minority groups would have undergone similar encounters.

Lisa Gervasoni

Lisa G cropHidden Perspectives through Maps: New and Traditional Sources to Locate your Ancestors & their Homes

Lisa Gervasoni is the Coordinator of Strategic Planning at Moorabool Shire Council, an Executive Committee Member of Australia ICOMOS and is member of the Committee of the Daylesford and District Historical Society, the Hepburn Shire Heritage Advisory Committee and the Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens Advisory Committee.  Lisa has been inducted into the Hepburn Women’s Honour Roll, received State and National Planning Awards and has been involved in many heritage studies and processes to provide statutory protection of places.  She has curated two history exhibitions in the Warrnambool Art Gallery and her photographs have been displayed in the Warrnambool Art Gallery, the Newcastle Art Gallery and the Museum of Sydney.


In 1999 the process of undertaking a comparative analysis of pre Olympic swimming pools  in Victoria was undertaken by making phonecalls and visiting libraries prior to site inspections.  Revisiting this process for a paper to the 2011 ICOMOS Conference : Watermarks  many new tools were available to not only increase the range of places to ground truth, but allowed the identification of potential locations before travelling to site inspections.

This paper shows how newspaper articles and images from online sources and primary data/family records can provide information that allow online mapping to identify likely locations for ground truthing, which often leads to a more fruitful research trip.

The process has been used in numerous research scenarios including successfully uncovering ancestral connections to sites such as the Rutledge Survey at Killarney (Vic).

Jenny Higgins

More than Gold: Treasure from TROVE  Jenny Higgins

Jenny Higgins is the Family History Reference Librarian at the National Library of Australia.

For over a decade she has assisted family historians researching their origins at the Library and regularly conducts Learning Program sessions on Family History subjects and about uses of TROVE for family history research. She recently developed and delivered a 10 session course of family history reference training for staff in the Library.

She has be researching her own family intermittently for over 30 years and assisted at local society and LDS libraries in Canberra for over 10 years. Originally a computer programmer, she undertook contract family history research, prior to joining the Library. In 2011, she was awarded a National Library Australia Day award for her contribution to the family history work in the Library.


The National Library of Australia’s TROVE service is a fabulous adjunct to resources available for family history research. TROVE’s digitised newspapers can not only provide records of individual and family events, but gives researchers a valuable insight into the events of the times. This talk will cover the broad functionality of TROVE as a whole and then focus on techniques for finding real gems for family history research in TROVE’s digitised newspapers.

Monika McIntyre

monikaDigitisation at the State Library of Victoria: An Overview

Monika McIntyre is Image Access Supervisor at the State Library of Victoria.


At this session Katie Flack and Monika McIntyre will give a short history of digitising at the State Library of Victoria, covering early digitising projects and describing how digitising practices have changed over the years. They will also describe current standards and practices, how various materials are digitised and presented through the State Library’s catalogue, and give an update on current and recent digitising projects.

Photo of Michele with her PhD 2007 ps

Dr Michele Matthews

Bendigo’s “Petitions of the People”: a unique primary source for Family Historians

Michele has been a Local Historian for three decades. Her first work contract for the former City of Bendigo was to create a Catalogue to the Council’s inwards correspondence 1856-1899. (The petitions are now housed within this collection.) She undertook research for her Honours (1983), Masters and PhD using the records housed at BRAC, which she now spends her working life caring for and learning about. She has worked as the former City of Bendigo’s consultant Historian on the “Making a Nation” exhibition, the Historian for Bendigo Bank and is currently working on an Oral History project to mark the 125th anniversary of Sandhurst Trustees’ establishment. Michele is the author of numerous journal articles, teachers’ notes for historic documentaries, and newspaper articles.  Her latest article, “‘New History from below’ captured within the records of the Bendigo Regional Archives Centre”, appears in issue 11, 2012 of the online journal Provenance. Michele  has undertaken much public speaking for various local organizations, and has presented papers at AHA and OHAA (Vic) conferences and is an ardent advocate for the use of local History records to provide the grassroots perspective needed in both Victorian and Australian History.


This paper will explore the history behind the “Petitions of the People” project.  What were the burning issues that made residents, male and female, educated and illiterate, put pen to paper?  Case studies from the 250 petitions completed so far will be used to highlight the wonderful social history captured within the petitions’ prayers- and the humour.  (Can you guess which issue dominates the incoming petitions?)

The particular historic value of these documents to family historians is invaluable because an ancestor’s signature and address (and sometimes occupation) can be the only surviving proof that they lived in Bendigo and district, however briefly, at a specific time.

Veronica Moriarty

veronicaA Look at Five Women’s Lives through their Needlework Samplers

Veronica Moriarty is a librarian, researcher, collector and writer and has been widely published in antiques magazines and research journals in Australia and the United States. She has co-authored Staffordshire figures: History in earthenware 1740-1900 which has earned praise internationally from Staffordshire collectors. She has spoken throughout Australia and in the United States on her research into Staffordshire figures and her book. Veronica is currently employed in the Australiana Research Room of the Ballarat Library.


Veronica has championed Staffordshire figures as folkart and as a legitimate means by which to come to understand the lives of the people who made and bought them. She has extended this humanistic approach to the research of needleworks. She believes women’s and girls’ domestic art provide insights both into the lives of individuals ignore by mainstream historical research. Her specific focus is on Australian needleworks which are incredibly rare and provide a unique into the lives of everyday girls and women.

Bill Moy

IMG_5224The Hidden Chinese

Bill Moy is 4th generation Chinese and 80 years old. All his life he has in some way always been connected to the Chinese community in Ballarat. Bill was a foundation member of the Ballarat Chinese Association Community Association and has held various positions on the committee for 25 years. He is also a foundation member and life member of the Chinese Australian Cultural Society Ballarat Inc. and was their President for their first 3 years. He is currently serving as their Vice President.

My address will be mainly on the Chinese that I have known or been in contact with over the years or relatives of their families and not taken from books. There are a lot of Chinese people that have made their name in Ballarat, both in business and in the sporting field and in my opinion they have not been recognised. In recent addresses to three Probus clubs in Ballarat they were astounded at some of the people mentioned and their connection to the Chinese community and Ballarat .

Claire Muir

muir‘Those Whom God Hath Joined Together, Let No Man Put Asunder’: Women and the Quest for Divorce in the Nineteenth Century

Claire Muir is the Assistant Curator at the Gold Museum (Sovereign Hill Museums Association), Ballarat, where she has worked for almost seven years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Melbourne and a Graduate Diploma of Museum Studies from Deakin University. In 2006, she published a book on The Medical History Society of Victoria. Claire is currently a member of the Museum Victoria INSITE Magazine Committee, the Professional Historians Association (Victorian Branch) and the Oral History Association (Victorian Branch).


For as long as the concept of marriage has existed, there have been people who have yearned to break free from this life-long commitment. While a divorce has become relatively easy to obtain in our contemporary society, for centuries it was next to impossible for the majority of the population of the Western world. Under British law, women were considered to be the property of their husbands until late in the nineteenth century, and the opportunity for them to instigate divorce proceedings on their own was practically non-existent. Using examples from the Gold Museum’s collection, this paper will explore divorce cases from the nineteenth century, within the broader historical context of both English and Australian law and society.

Dr Val Noone

The Irish on the Victorian Goldfields  Val

Doctor Val Noone is an Australian historian who has written extensively on social history and has a particular interest in the history of the Irish Language in Victoria, Australia, in its social, cultural and linguistic aspects. He is an Honorary Fellow of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne.

He completed a degree in Biblical studies, at Corpus Christi College, Melbourne and his doctoral thesis on religious attitudes to war. He spent a number of years as a priest and retains a strong interest in the social history of the Church.

He has published many books, articles and reviews, and has been a co-contributor to historical articles in Irish published by the Irish journal Feasta. He is a member of the Irish Language Society of Australia and was the editor of Táin, the magazine of the Irish Australian Network, which ceased publication in 2007. His most notable recent work is Hidden Ireland in Victoria, an overview of the history of the Irish language in south eastern Australia. He was awarded a medal of the Order of Australia in June 2009


The Irish on the Victorian Goldfields

To the Victorian goldfields, some Irish came as officials, soldiers, lawyers, teachers, engineers, clergy and politicians, others as diggers, labourers, carters, wives, mothers, domestic servants, storekeepers and so on. Some like Peter Lalor and Lola Montez (Eliza Gilbert) were famous, most were not but they nonetheless contributed much to building the region and indeed to developing the rest of Victoria and beyond. At least half of them spoke Irish but much of their story remains hidden. This session will give an overview of the Irish of the goldfields and will then focus on fragments of Gaelic culture, both Christian and Celtic, which came as mental cargo in the songs, stories, poems, prayers, accents, events and monuments of those Australians whose original language was Irish.

Sarah Rood photoSarah Rood

Tips on Recording an Oral History

Consulting historian “Way Back When”

Katherine Sheedy photoKatherine Sheedy

Tips on Recording an Oral History

Consulting historian “Way Back When”

Sarah Rood and Katherine Sheedy are professional historians and experienced oral history practitioners who, together, make up Way Back When Consulting Historians. Oral history is a common theme through their work, which includes commissioned histories, exhibitions, digital stories and radio work. Way Back When specialises in producing engaging histories that help communities reconnect with their past. Their work includes histories of professional bodies, educational institutions, community and migrant groups, companies and non profit organisations.


The value of oral history is in its ability to reveal what has not been formally recorded and to bring to life information found in paper records by providing humour, emotion and personal experience. This session will explore the fundamentals of oral history recording. Using examples we will discuss simple ways to maximise the quality of oral history recordings, including the best ways to structure interview questions, creating the right recording environment and the benefits of different equipment.

Anne and flag 2004Dr Anne Beggs Sunter

Ballarat School of Mines & The Industrial Heritage Wiki

Anne lectures in Australian History and Heritage in the School of Education and the Arts at the University of Ballarat.  Her academic interests are in Australian social, cultural and political history, with a special interest in Ballarat, and the significance of the Eureka Stockade in Australian history.


The School of Mines Ballarat is a remarkable institution, founded in 1870 as Australia’s first technical institution. At its foundation it was focussed on training men in geology, metallurgy and mine management, but the range of courses and students rapidly diversified. Surprisingly, some of the first to receive certificates were females.  This presentation will address the role of the SBM, and describe the current project of the University of Ballarat and Sovereign Hill to create an Industrial Heritage Wiki which will bring the stories of many graduates of the School to public notice.

PENTAX ImageMichael Taffe

Citizens and Civic Image:

Horticultural Developments on the Goldfields through the lens of the Ballarat Horticultural Society

Michael’s career has been in education, welfare, history and archives.  He holds related diplomas and also degrees in English and History with an MA in history. His major research has explored Victoria’s Avenues of Honour and civic image through the landscape. Many journal articles and two histories, Exploring Ballarat’s Garden Heritage, and Love One Another, a centenary history of Ballarat’s Cathedral Conference of St Vincent de Paul, have been published. Michael is a people person, a horticulturalist, past Secretary of Eureka’s Children, and an avid bibliophile whose book collecting interests have been published here and in the UK.


‘Citizens and Civic Image – Horticultural developments on the goldfields through the lens of the Ballarat Horticultural Society.’

Michael Taffe has researched the development of Ballarat and its image as a Garden City comparing it with other Victorian urban developments both here and overseas in the 19th century. Drawing on his resultant MA thesis Michael looks at the key players in this process interpreting their actions and the events that brought about Ballarat the Garden City.

Dr Joseph Toscano

Eureka Rebellion  279

Dr. Joe Toscano was educated in Brisbane where he completed his Bachelor of Medicine/Surgery.  Joe has been a medical practitioner for 37 years with a special interest in spinal cord paralysis.  He completed his doctorate of medicine at the University of Melbourne in 1987. He has become widely known as an anarchist spokesperson for the Anarchist Media Institute through his broadcasting on community radio, his frequent letters to newspapers such as The Age and the Herald Sun and his initiation of community campaigns. Dr Toscano has presented the long running Anarchist World this week program on 3CR since 1977. A talk back show with Joe Toscano is also a popular 3CR program. A weekly newsletter, the Anarchist Age Weekly Review has been compiled by Joe Toscano since 1991 and distributed around the world. Joe is the Convenor of the “Reclaim the Radical Spirit of Eureka Rebellion Celebrations”. He is also on the Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner Commemoration Committee, the Direct Democracy Not Parliamentary Rule and the Wednesday Action Group.


Eureka Rebellion

Opinions about what occurred at Ballarat on the 3rd December 1854 are as diverse and wide ranging in 2012/2013 as they were in 1854. Some people claim the Eureka Rebellion was little more than a riot carried out by small business people who did not want to pay taxes while others claim it was a full blown rebellion that continues to have major reverberations today. The Eureka story has survived the attempts of many elements in Australian society to claim the events that occurred on the 3rd December as their own.

How we view the Eureka Rebellion is not value free, it reflects different sometimes competing viewpoints among Australians. The key to understanding the nature of the Eureka Rebellion is contained in the Eureka Oath sworn by armed miners at Bakery Hill on the 29th November 1854, “We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties”

Dr Dorothy Wickham

An Ocean of Tears: Immigration to Australia


Dorothy Wickham is a director of Ballarat Heritage Services, consulting historian and archivist. She co-authored The Eureka Encyclopaedia, the overall winner of the Victorian Community History Awards in 2005 and received a Commendation for Best Print/Publication in 2010 for Women of the Diggings. She has a regular heritage spot on ABC Regional radio and enjoys a variety of speaking engagements.

She completed her Master of Philosophy degree at Australian Catholic University in 2003. After being awarded a scholarship from University of Ballarat in 2004, she completed her doctoral studies researching women on the early goldfields in 2008. She has been awarded an Honorary Research Associate of the University of Ballarat.

She continues to sit on many committees in an voluntary capacity. These include the Ballaarat Cemetery  Advisory Committee, Professional Historians’ Association Editorial Committee, Victorian Association of Family History Organisations (VAFHO) committee, Victorian Interpretive Projects Inc. (President), and a member of the Australian Women’s Archive Project Committee.


So you guess what sort of water we had to drink on board and it in Barrels 4 months. I have often seen maggots in it and what harm if we get enough of it!” 

The new colony did nothing at first to encourage the immigration of free settlers. Between 1788 and 1830 there were 77,000 arrivals of which only 18% were free settlers. With the arrival of the squatters and the beginnings of the sheep industry, came the need for cheap labour. Many schemes were devised to lure healthy young men and women to Australia. The gold rushes of eastern Australia brought a large influx of migrants including Americans, Scandinavians, Europeans, and Chinese. The population rose from 405,000 to 1,145,000 between 1850 and 1860.

This presentation tells the story of immigration. One female immigrant wrote: “So you guess what sort of water we had to drink on board and it in Barrels 4 months. I have often seen maggots in it and what harm if we get enough of it!” This presentation describes the immigration schemes and conditions under which men and women left their native lands and travelled to Australia.

Susie Zada

Regional Victoria: A Goldfields Experience

Susie is a well known professional genealogist, historian & author who completed an Associate Diploma in Local and Applied History at University of New England (Armidale) in 1996. She is currently the Project Manager at the Genealogical Society of Victoria. She has worked on Heritage Studies in various municipalities in Victoria including:  Shire of Mitchell; Shire of Moira; Golden Plains Shire; City of Greater Geelong; and Moorabool Shire, as well as Conservation Management Plans for sites in Melbourne and across country Victoria.

Susie has researched and published several books, CD-Roms, indexes and extensive web sites on local history.  She is a former President of the City of Richmond & Burnley Historical Society and the Bellarine Historical Society.  She has been editor of the Geelong Historical Society journal, and was on the committee of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria History Support Group.



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NOTE:  Whilst every care is taken with the compilation of the conference program and the session & speakers lists, VAFHO and VIPs reserve the right to alter topics and/or change speakers in the event they are no longer available.


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