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    An elegant colossus reaches for the sky

    ” Captured by amateur photographer Pierre Robin in early September 1959, this is one of the last photographs to capture the solid presence of the Colonial Mutual Building on the north-west corner of Collins and Elizabeth streets.

    It rises here from a busy urban setting, trams running along the two major thoroughfares, jostling for space with pedestrians and vehicles. In the foreground is an iconic two-toned Holden FE station wagon,


    Congratulations Ruby Louise Oosthuizen!

    The annual Don Gibb RHSV Australian History Prize is awarded to the La Trobe University student who gained the highest mark in the third-year subject ‘Making History’ and , in 2024, the prize was presented to Ruby Louise Oosthuizen. Ruby made a podcast: ‘The Whitewashing of Australia’s Ecological History Seen Through the Tale of a Platypus’. Ruby is completing a double degree in Science and Arts. She earned a cash prize and an RHSV membership,

    2023 AGM & SGM, TUESDAY 28 MAY 2024

    We look forward to welcoming as many members as possible to the RHSV’s Special General Meeting (SGM) and Annual General Meeting (AGM). To register for the SGM and AGM or to record your apologies please click here.  You can use the same link to book for the Weston Bate Oration which follows the AGM (with a short break for refreshments). Non-members too are always welcome.

    On Tuesday evening,



    Our 4th podcast, VOICES FROM MELBOURNE’S CHINATOWN, is available for download from Spotify.


    In this episode of our History Victoria Podcast, Past Lives, Sean Reynolds interviews Mark Wang, CEO of Melbourne’s Chinese Museum to explore the evolving identity and culture of the vibrant Chinese-Australian community. 
    Mark delves into his family’s deep roots in Victoria, tracing back to his great-great-grandfather who arrived before the gold rush.


    Librarian / Library Technician

    Jillian Hiscock, our Collections Manager, is always looking for volunteers with library skills and experience. She says …

    If you like order and making sure that items in a collection are findable, we are looking for volunteers familiar with library operations, as a librarian or library technician to work with and assist the Collections manager to :

    • Accession, catalogue and maintain collection records [books,


    PROV is facing more than just funding cuts at the moment.

    A bill was introduced into the Legislative Assembly this week by the Government that would, amongst other things, see the abolishment of the Public Records Advisory Council.  Given the importance of the PRAC in advising the Minister and the Public Records office on the operation and implementation of the relevant Act, and subsequently the storage and archival of public records, we were looking for feedback from the perspective of historical societies,


    The Royal Historical Society of Victoria has written to The Honourable Gabrielle Williams, Minister for Government Services regarding the faltering funding for the Victorian Community History Awards and PROV’s essential grants program, Local History Grants. These two modestly funded program are essential to the ongoing well-being of Victoria’s 350 historical societies which are a much-loved feature in every electorate across Victoria.

    Richard Broome, RHSV President, has also written to all our members asking them to lobby the Minister and their local member to ensure that funding is secured for the quadrennial period 2024 –


    We are delighted that Mortlake & District Historical Society will be hosting our first regional seminar for 2024.

    We will release the full program and booking details shortly.

    In the meantime, why not plan a weekend, or longer, in the Western District?

    Mortlake is an historic settlement which lies at the base of Mount Shadwell, an extinct volcano. The town, which has a large number of impressive bluestone buildings,

    SAVE BALLARA: help save Alfred Deakin’s historic home and bush garden from development

    The 1.68 hectare bush garden and historic home of Australia’s second Prime Minister Alfred Deakin is on the lands of the Wadawurrung People, in the middle of “old Lonnie” (Point Lonsdale, VIC). Ballara is under threat of auction and development.

    Join the campaign to save Ballara for the nation and to give it a future.


    Ballara on Victoria’s Bellarine peninsula, remains in the hands of Deakin’s descendants. However, it is now under threat.


    Gotcha! Concrete Prints from the McEwans Celebrity Pavement

    Who remembers the McEwans celebrity pavement?
    Between 1972 and 1994, scores of celebrities had their hand- and footprints immortalised in cement at the entrance of the McEwans hardware store in Bourke Street. Shopping for a hammer or a hair-dryer, you’d step in the prints of actors, musicians, sportspeople, writers, dancers, politicians, an astronaut, a racehorse – even an operatic dog.
    Curated by Robyn Annear, ‘Gotcha!’ presents 40 of the surviving prints from the McEwans pavement, together with stories of the celebrities who made them and newspaper images that capture the mood of the times.

    Family History Workshops

    👩🏽‍👩🏽‍👦🏽‍👦🏽 Family History Workshops hosted by Wendy Eldridge from our Friends of the Library.

    Do you want some guided help with your family history journey? We can help. Join a friendly and supportive environment while making use of the many resources available at the PMI Victorian History Library.

    Our workshops will cover:

    28 Feb – What you need to know what you Get Started
    24 Apr – What Beginners should do
    26 Jun –


    David Thompson will take you behind the scenes of our current exhibition, Melbourne’s Storied Laneways which David curated. The exhibition was prompted by the upcoming publication of The Story of Melbourne’s Lanes: Essential but Unplanned by Weston Bate, Richard Broome, Nicole Davis, Andrew J. May, Helen Stitt which will be launched on 3rd October 2024.

    We all have our favourite Melbourne laneway and curator David Thompson has chosen a handful of lanes which reveal intriguing Melbourne stories.


    Join Jillian Hiscock, the RHSV Collections Manager, each month in this informative and easy-going Zoom forum on all aspects of cataloguing collections for historical societies. Jillian has a different topic each month and is happy to be guided by those who attend as to what they would like covered in upcoming clinics. Bring your questions (no matter the topic) – this is an interactive space where questions are encouraged. The RHSV does not endorse any particular cataloguing software – we believe it is horses for courses – and Jillian will talk about issues that impact on cataloguing whether you are using cataloguing cards or software.

    HCV Book+Author seminar series: Science and Power in the Nineteenth-Century Tasman World

    In the History Council of Victoria’s third Book+Author event for the year, we will be joined by Alexandra Roginski, Melbourne-based historian, writer and heritage worker and Visiting Fellow of Deakin University, who will be discussing her fascinating new book in conversation with convenor Dr Yves Rees. Alexandra completed her PhD at the ANU in 2018 and her work focuses on ideas and practices of the body, past and present. Science and Power in the Nineteenth-Century Tasman World is Alexandra’s second book,

    The Value of Local History – Into the Future 2024 Conference

    The Association of Eastern Historical Societies presents

    The Value of Local History – Into the Future 2024 Conference
    Saturday 29 June 2024
    Lilydale Lakeside Conference Centre
    1 Jarlo Drive, Lilydale

    Speakers include:

    • Bryan Kalms- Keynote
    • Richard Broome
    • Anthony McAleer
    • Rosalie Trioli
    • Janice Newton
    • John Peterson
    • Graeme Davison
    • Val Polley
    • Patrick Ferry –


    The Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network is presenting this fascinating lecture at the RHSV.

    Speaker: Daryl Karp, Australian National Maritime Museum’s Director and CEO

    Ms Karp has worked in the broadcast and cultural industries for over 20 years. Prior to her appointment as Director and CEO of ANMM, she  was the Director of the Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD) at Old Parliament House from 2013 to 2022 establishing a strategic direction that focused on ‘the spirit of Australian democracy and the power of your voice within it’,  

    Zoom lecture: Gardens and land management in Western Victoria

    Zoom lecture: Gardens and land management in Western Victoria 

    Winter online zoom lecture by Dr Raymond Madden, Senior Lecturer, Anthropologist, in the School of Social Sciences, La Trobe University

    James Dawson, (1806-1900), was a prominent pastoralist in the colonial history of western Victoria.  In 1881 he published, ‘ Australian Aborigines: The Languages and Customs of Several Tribes of Aborigines in the Western District of Victoria’. This lecture will outline Dawson’s knowledge,

    From our Shop

    A Formidable Man By Allan Mawdsley

    A man of many persuasions and vast energy, A Formidable Man is an expansive detailing into the contributions and controversies of a combative personality…

    John William Springthorpe was a prominent general physician, lecturer, and writer in late nineteenth century’s marvellous Melbourne.

    Springthorpe, affectionately known as Springy, took major advocacy roles in physiotherapy, dentistry, nursing, public health, child welfare, epilepsy, and mental health during his career.

    His bitter criticism of the mistreatment of ‘shell shock’ victims during World War I was followed by advocacy for those afflicted with what’s now known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    Growing Together: Letters Between Frederick John Cato and Frances Bethune 1881-1884 edited and introduced by Una B. Porter (Second Hand Book)


    A story of love, faith and courage, Growing Together consists of letters that offer vivid insights into the social life of both Invercargill, New Zealand, and Melbourne, the booming ‘Metropolis of the Antipodes’, in the 1880s. The letters of Frederick Cato and Frances Bethune also record the growth of the enterprise that became the prosperous and prominent commercial enterprise Moran and Cato Pty Ltd.  Editor Una B. Porter provides a full and vivid account of the families involved as they sought to establish themselves in Australiasia.

    Reflections on Resilience: The Story of a Family of Five Remarkable Women by Judy Baird (Second Hand Book)


    Reflections on Resilience examines resilience in all its forms, particularly in five women over three centuries.  In looking back to past generations of women in her family, Judy Baird discovers that she, like these women, all experienced  love and loss, happiness, hardship, poverty and deprivation. Judy looks at the lives of her forebears through the lens of resilience and  we are left to judge whether Judy also fits the model.

    Geelong’s Changing Landscape: Ecology, Development, and Conservation editors David S. Jones & Phillip B. Roos (Second Hand Book)


    Shortlisted – 2020 Victorian Community History Awards: Collaborative Community History Award

    Winner, Planning Institute of Australia Awards for Planning Excellence 2020 (Victoria): Cutting Edge Research and Teaching

    A thoughtful exploration of the ecological history of Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula.

    Geelong’s Changing Landscape offers an insightful investigation of the ecological history of the Geelong and Bellarine Peninsula region. Commencing with the penetrating perspectives of Wadawurrung Elders,

    John Wren: A Life Reconsidered by James Griffin (Second Hand Book)


    In this superbly written and provocative review of the historical evidence, James Griffin argues that John Wren – the man made infamous by Frank Hardy in the classic ‘Power Without Glory’ – has been unfairly maligned and misunderstood for decades.

    Wren was a wealthy, self-made entrepreneur with interests and influence in football, horse racing and the Labor Party. But it is Hardy’s barely fictionalised denunciation of Wren as an uncouth gangster,

    Ruyton Remembers 1878-1978 by Marjorie R. Theobald (Second Hand Book)


    ‘Ruyton Remembers’ 1878-1978 traces the development of Ruyton from a small group of pupils in Charlotte Anderson’s front parlour, to Eliza Bromby’s Edwardian ladies college, to the present school of five hundred and sixty girls in Selbourne Road, Kew. – from inside dust jacket

    Fair condtion, fair amount of wear and tear on dust jacket.

    Hardback, 222pp, 1978.

    Built from Nothing: A History of the Building Industry in Australia by Oscar Gimesy (Second Hand Book)


    ‘Built From Nothing’ describes the building industry’s development from the first settlers to present days in Australia.

    Dr. Gimsey’s book is a pioneering work; it is the first time a book about the history of the building industry is written. It describes state-by-state, from the first settlers, early builders’ activitis to recently constructed major projects, the booms and busts, brief histories of AIB, MBA, HIA, and Unions, workers and education in the industry,