Brainstorm History Month event ideas

The RHSV has a full program of webinars, online book events, on-line clinics and talks in October but we want to see every one rise to the challenge! We can help you with your event for History Month if you’d like to do something over Zoom. We also have a great many ideas for different kinds of events below, which we hope will inspire you. 

When you have an event upload it to . If you have any queries contact Susannah on


  • Need a guest speaker? We have some fabulous historians on our Council who are happy to do Zoom events wherever you are in Victoria. But get in fast.
  • If you don’t have a digital platform the RHSV can host your event on our Zoom subscription – we have a subscription just for other historical societies and history month participants to use. If you’d like training in how to run a Zoom event we can easily give you a short one-on-one session which will make you the Zoom expert. 
  • Never organised a digital event? We are here to help you. It is surprisingly easy. 
  • The RHSV has some video equipment which we can lend to other historical societies for recording events (camera / lights / tripod etc) (limited to Melbourne-based historical societies)
  • We will be promoting these events  so sign up early 
  • You can always speak to Susannah about how you go about an event if you are unsure.


Events don’t have to be ambitious or fancy – we just want history lovers to connect all over Victoria and share their enthusiasm. Some of these ideas are for a post-COVID world (will that ever happen?) but think of ways you can adapt them digitally. Once you have History Month nailed, then start planning your program of events to take you into 2023 and beyond.

This year we are wanting to get our interstate organisations involved, so if you’re not based in Victoria, we are still eager to have you included online!

Victorian organisations:

  • A history talk followed by Q&A (see ways in which RHSV can help)
  • I Was There When … (this idea & the next) from Port Melbourne Historical & Preservation Society). Three speakers presented their memories of the local area anchored around the statement ‘I was there when …’.
  • A show and tell where half a dozen people talk about an one object each from their historical collection
  • Galvanise your members to photograph the headstones in the local graveyards for their families and get them to upload to Facebook the photos and stories of those people – you can encourage this to go county-wide. 
  • Create a tour of your main street using QR codes which are linked to your website, so someone scanning a QR code in, say, the window of the local newsagent can read the history of that building and look at photos of what it used to look like. 
  • A talk by a local who grew up in your town – what are their stories, how do they remember their youth? These can be conversational events with someone to interview the person. They don’t have to be excessive- 45mins with Q+A. An hour is more than enough time for an event. Get a few people of similar vintage together to spark off each other. 
  • Do a joint event with the local genealogy society – how can you help each other’s members? How do you turn a series of dates into a cogent and engaging history? What drives the need for family history. What resources/strategies can people use to start/help break through roadblocks. Why family history needs ‘flesh to its bones’ and how to expand your family story
  • Oral history – what is oral history? Why is it important? Session on techniques and resources. Record oral histories and upload them to your website
  • Arrange a torchlight tour – of your local cemetery of historic house.
  • St Kilda Historical Society has organised a short story writing competition in previous years. Entries could have been on any theme, in any genre and in any time period, providing that the story was inspired by or set in St Kilda.  There were two categories – open and junior. 
  • Invite an Aboriginal Elder to share something about the cultural significance of your place.
  • Film night – invite people to share some of their home movies and relive the past.You can do this on Zoom with people each contributing a handful of slides. 
  • Out of the vaults – do you have collections in storage that are rarely seen, or kept in areas that are not on public display?
  • Favourite things – invite local identities to select their favourite objects from your collection and write their own labels for them.
  • Launch a history book, website or exhibition.
  • Investigate a local myth/legend/story from different perspectives and build a tour or event around it.
  • Take a historical boat trip with talks about how it works and how it was used.
  • Walking tour about what is going on under people’s feet (way to talk history of gas pipes and water supply, land reclamation, environmental issues with industrial land…).
  • Have a day/evening to collect some oral histories for your site/building/area.
  • Encourage people to bring in and display their ‘collections’ or have a swap meet.
  • Is there a famous/infamous animal in the history of your community? (think Bob the Railway Dog). Tell his/her story as an exhibition/presentation. Invite people to share other animal stories.
  • Bring various age groups together to share and swap skills of their era: eg traditional string games (cat’s cradle), French knitting, ball room dancing versus skateboarding, video games, Rubik’s cube etc.

Interstate organisations for online participation:

  • A digital afternoon tea where everyone shares a recipe from their grandparents and tells a one story about their grandparents. 
  • An online class – the Chinese Museum have some great interactive online sessions for schools where they have a class in making Chinese lanterns or a Kung Fu class. Maybe your historical society can have a session on how to make a rawhide whip, how to skin a rabbit, how to darn socks, make a rag rug etc
  • An online bookclub – choose your favourite history book (fiction is OK!) and gather everyone online to discuss it. Ask the author to Zoom in too. 
  • Maybe you want to organise your monthly meeting of members or your AGM by Zoom
  • Recordings of performers that can then be streamed from your website or YouTube
  • Videos of exhibitions, streamed from your website or YouTube
  • Webinar discussions with historians in a sister city anywhere else in the world


  • Create a DIY walking tour and upload it to your website.
  • Historical ‘Letters to the editor’ – find some interesting, poignant, funny, topical letters to the editor from the local paper and invite people to a Zoom reading.
  • Run a research poster competition.
  • Ask current and former students to run school history tours.
  • Invite teens to try their hand at curating a history exhibition.
  • Put on a scavenger hunt and invite people to become historians and analyse the evidence.
  • Have a hands-on workshop to learn a new skill from the past and talk about history as you go.
  • Hold a debate around a controversial issue in your area of history.
  • ‘Greetings from…’: take us on a tour of your place. What makes it like it is? Who are the local characters? What do different areas of the place mean to different people? Peel back the layers.
  • Invite students to display their current favourite toys alongside ones from their grandparents’ era.
  • Take the history to those that can’t get out – put up a display at a local hospital, visit a nursing home dressed up or sing songs from post-war/pre-war eras.
  • Get hands on with music – show students how to play historical instruments or learn how to make their own (playing spoons, whistle with gum leaves, etc.).
  • Organise etiquette lessons or have fun looking at lessons to be learned from 1950s housewives.
  • Create a memory box of items (ones that can be handled) and photographs on a particular theme like childhood, holidays, cooking, sport etc and share with residents from an aged care facility to inspire reminiscence and conversation.
  • Research the names on your local war memorial and tell their stories.
  • Recreate a typical event of the past from your community eg a strawberry fete; ‘a continental’;  a euchre party; or a beetle drive.  Make it a fun fundraiser: get people to dress up in appropriate period costume, and perhaps collaborate with a classic car club so participants can arrive in style.


  • The local library could do an event explaining what local history resources they have – and how to use them. 
  • Whose stories are missing from your displays? Do you tell the story of the farmer, but not his wife, the settlers but not the Aboriginal people? The master and mistress of the house, but not the servants? Arrange a special tour to share another perspective on your museum.
  • Think about your recent history – what has changed in the last 10-20 years? Hold a pop-up museum and invite people to share their stories of the recent past.
  • Take people on a tour of backstreets and laneways.
  • Tour the local shops and look at how they’ve changed over time.
  • Walking tour of an industrial area.
  • Invite residents of different ages to talk about the community and how it has changed over time
  • Screen a historical film and serve popcorn.
  • Get young visitors to recreate your town using found and recycled materials.
  • Hold a ‘scanfest’ at your local research centre and invite people to bring their personal photos and documents to add to the collection.
  • Have a ‘night at the museum’.
  • Run competition to caption historical photos (aiming for funny/clever responses).
  • Invite visitors to rewrite or draw labels in ‘horrible histories’ style.
  • Hold a pet friendly event/tour.
  • Arrange a family-friendly themed bicycle tour around your local area.
  • Hold a photography competition.
  • Partner with two or three other museums/historic buildings and have a progressive dinner, with starters, mains, desserts, tea and coffee along with maybe a short talk, game or display at each different venue.
  • Organise a community archaeological dig  – invite visitors to watch or take part.
  • Based in an historic building? Have after dark, candlelit (or replicate gaslit) tours or get performers representing characters that once lived/worked there tell their stories.
  • Invite a local community that has only recently migrated to the area to tell their stories in your museum/library etc.
  • Organise an Auslan interpreted tour of your museum/exhibition.

Local venues (restaurants/pubs):

  • History Brew – have a relaxed evening talk whilst participants indulge in their favourite brew.
  • Team up with your local vintage store for an historical fashion parade.
  • Hold a history-based trivia night, themed dress included.
  • Find a local storyteller and put on a Bar Yarns event at the local pub.
  • Find some local recipes – talk about their significance to the community.
  • Invite retired workers from a particular industry to talk about their careers and skills (perhaps at the regular watering hole).
  • Put on a food making demonstration or workshop and talk about historical significance (cheese making/baking/winemaking).
  • Set up a temporary display in a vacant shop window.
  • Have a bake-off/cook-off using local ingredients or traditional methods.
  • Organise a historical themed/dress up pub crawl.
  • Organise a musical evening or theatrical performance in your historic building/grounds and encourage a new audience to visit you.
  • Have an Open Garden afternoon; with talks/presentations on traditional gardening/cooking methods eg making compost, keeping chickens, making preserves, creating sculpture from recycled materials.

Many thanks to History Teachers Association of Victoria and History South Australia who brainstormed many of these ideas.