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Launch of the Jessie Webb Society

March 24, 2021 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm



Richard Broome AM, President, Councillors and Foundation Committee members

of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria

invite you to the launch of

with special guests, Annette Webb,

Gary Presland and Bill Russell.


Create history. Make a bequest. 

Over our considerable lifetime the RHSV has received many bequests which allow us to make great leaps forward. They allow us to tackle the larger projects and these have included restoring significant original artworks, digitising our unique Pioneer Register, indexing the on-line Victorian Historical Journals, funding prizes and, just as vital if more prosaic, building our new website and funding our database.

The trouble with bequests is that we never get the opportunity to say a heart-felt thank you. So we have established the Jessie Webb Society to honour those who have made a bequest to the RHSV whilst they are still with us.

Join the Council and Foundation to raise a toast to Jessie Webb and to celebrate our new society and those who have become its founding members.


Who was Jessie Webb (1880-1944)?

In 1909 Jessie Stobo Watson Webb was not only an original Historical Society of Victoria member (membership No. 30) and the first woman but she also provided rooms in Block Arcade in which our first meeting was held. She was a passionate historian and a true individual who lived by her own rules. Graduating from the University of Melbourne with first class honours in history and political economy, she became the third woman appointed to the University teaching staff when she joined its history department as an evening lecturer in 1908.

She and her friends exemplified the ‘new woman’: intelligent, emancipated women who led rich intellectual lives. She spent 7 months trekking from Cape Town to Cairo in 1922 and thence to Athens where she spent eight months at the British School of Archaeology which had a huge influence on the rest of her life. She was an alternate Delegate to the League of Nations, travelled through outback Australia in 1926 in a Baby Austin 7 and returned to Europe, North Africa and the Middle East in 1936 for one last historical tour. She was a founding member of many academic clubs and associations and lived her life in the pursuit of education and adventure.

We want to honour Jessie’s legacy, and her impact on the RHSV which is still felt over 100 years later, by naming our bequest society after her. The Jessie Webb Society, like its namesake, is there to make a difference and its members understand the power of a legacy.

“My bequest through the Jessie Webb Society is made in acknowledgement of the enduring value and worth there is in the study of history. I am pleased to provide support for a discipline that gave me not only many years of enjoyable employment, but also enduring friendships, and opportunities to contribute to an understanding of our past.

I am proud to think that, through the Jessie Webb Society, my achievements can be of benefit in the future. That, surely, is what ‘history’ is about.”

Dr Gary Presland FRHSV

“As Victoria grows, we mustn’t forget our heritage in records, stories, and historical places and figures. If we neglect the past, we lose our soul; history provides the links and stories that give our communities meaning. The RHSV has been collecting, saving and publishing those stories for over 110 years.

“By leaving a bequest to the RHSV, I know I’m helping secure their vital work in protecting Victoria’s heritage, and the stories and histories of its communities, into another century.
Jessie Webb loved the past but saw to the future: We can all contribute to the goal of preserving the stories and records of Victoria’s history long into the future. One of the best ways is to leave a bequest to the RHSV Foundation, which is what I intend to do.

“The success of the RHSV depends upon the generosity of people like you and me. If we value the past, we must protect its future.”

Professor E W Russell


We invite you to become a member of the Jessie Webb Society
The RHSV established the Jessie Webb Society to honour those who bequeath funds to us. If you make the decision to leave the RHSV a bequest in your will there is no obligation to notify us, however, we’d love it if you did so that we can acknowledge your generous gift now and invite you to enjoy the Jessie Webb Society and its benefits.

Find Out More

Photograph of Jessie Webb courtesy of Annette Webb. Taken in her early twenties, just a few years before she joined the Historical Society of Victoria. 


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March 24, 2021
10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Event Category:


Royal Historical Society of Victoria
03 9326 9288


RHSV, Gallery Downstairs
239 A'Beckett Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000 Australia
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03 9326 9288