What's on for history in Sydney

Join historians Tamson Pietsch and Anna Clark from the Centre for Public History at the University of Technology Sydney to find out what’s going on in Sydney’s cultural scene. Each week they speak to the people in the know from the 'GLAM' sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). To get in touch with the GLAMcity team - you can email us at Executive Producer Season Two: Jason L'Ecuyer Executive Producer Season One: Emma Lancaster

Steven Miller is the Head of the National Art Archive and Capon Research Library at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, so how did he come to be known as The Grim Reaper of art archives?

Part of Steve's role is to contact artists and request that they leave their archives- their sketchbooks, letters, journals and photos to the Art Gallery which he says has led to the moniker as, "if I have a visit, artists normally think oh my god, he must think I'm about to die."

Steve is passionate about his work for the Gallery, he fell into archiving after taking a summer job at the Gallery and is the longest serving employee. He's worked on digitising the Art Gallery's collections which has had a surprising outcome. He told GLAMcity hosts, Tamson Pietsch and Chelsea Barnett that a popular digital exhibition commemorating World War One became a physical exhibition after many viewers requested to see the objects offline.

Art Gallery of NSW Tamson Pietsch History Sydney history World War 1 archives Steven miller

Australia's role in post World War two Indonesia is well documented but not well known. In the aftermath of the Japanese surrender, the previous colonial authorities- the Dutch- attempted to take control of the Island nation once again rather than allow independence in the region. The British at the same time were intent on maintaining their hold on India.

Out of this post war turmoil comes a story of Union organisation and seafaring rebellion and author and historian, professor Heather Goodall is revealing all in a new book, Beyond Borders: Indians, Australians and the Indonesian Revolution, 1939 to 1950.

Heather visited the Indian archives in Delhi and Bombay searching for documents and discovered an Indian journalist, P.R.S. Mani who covered this time of turmoil.

Anna Clark was joined by new GLAMcity presenter Kiera Lindsey. They asked Heather about her long interest in activism and politics which has dominated her research. She's worked on two Royal Commissions and has investigated decolonisation in Australia and the broader Asia-Pacific region.

Anna Clark Heather Goodall India World War two history

It was only a matter of time before GLAMcity joined the ranks - temporarily- of true crime podcasts.

Hosts Anna and Tamson and historian Alana Piper investigate the past using official criminal records of Australian offenders from the end of the convict period through to the Second World War.

Alana’s project invites citizen historians to view and transcribe criminal records. Mostly handwritten, the records carry valuable information about the offences committed and the incarceration and institutionalisation of prisoners.

These handwritten documents are becoming digital records for future generations of historians to explore. They're also a reminder of the harsh penalties imposed on Australians, many of whom were arrested on petty charges- vagrancy and theft or as Alana points out, for being poor.

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Women are often missing from the history of the formation of Australia as a nation but historian and author Clare Wright tells GLAMcity hosts Anna and Tamson that women were present and traces of their inclusion remain- although you may have to seek it out as Clare did at Australia’s Parliament house. She found a banner with the words “Trust the women mother as I have done.”

However in this area of history, this inclusion of women came at a cost. While white Australian women succeeded in getting the vote, Australia’s Indigenous people were further disenfranchised. So how do we celebrate and understand this moment in Australia’s past?

On this episode of GLAMcity, we’re discussing Stella Prize award winner Clare Wright’s new book, “You daughters of freedom”

Clare Wright Stella Prize Tamson Peitsch Anna Clark GLAMcity Suffragette

' There is no history of Australia which in non-Indigenous'

On this episode of GLAMcity, Anna speaks to Billy Griffiths, Historian and author of Deep Time Dreaming about the history of archaeology and our understanding of the Australian continent.

Further Reading:

  1. Deep Time Dreaming is available through Black Inc. Books
  2. You can read Billy's article, Haunted Country, in Inside Story here

Music: Gunnar Johnsén and Alan Ellis

Anna Clark Billy Griffiths Archaeology