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The Tasmanian Historical Research Association has enjoyed another successful year of talks, papers and excursions. The Association hosted four excursions – a visit to the Channel Heritage Centre at Margate, a walking tour of historic Sandy Bay, a tour and high tea at the historic National Trust property Runnymede and a tour and talk about landscape conservation management at Port Arthur and the Coal Mines historic site. Eleven lectures were held throughout the year, all of which were well attended.

The 2014 Lecture Series

Margaret Hicks: Lady Ships and whaling wives: American and Australian women in the whaling industry, 1825-75

Michael Bennett: The life and opinions of William Bugby, schoolmaster of Black Brush (Brighton), c1852-1928

Steve Thomas: Creating historical films and websites

Nicola Goc: Reading migrant women’s lives through snapshot photography: the Tasmanian experience

Sir Guy Green: A Tasmanian Life

Gillian Ward: Olive Pink as an artist

Eldershaw Lecture-Peter Stanley: Honest History: desirable? necessary? possible?

Alison Alexander: Maria & Edward Lord, and Hobart’s rambunctious early years.

Scott Carlin: House Museums as Public History.

John Short: The History of the Bank Arcade in Hobart’s Liverpool Street.

Chris Leppard-Quinn: Sex Sells: The anachronism of Colonial Prostitution.

During 2014, the Association published a standard issue of Papers and Proceedings in June and a double issue in December, edited by Alison Alexander. They included 11 papers on a diverse and interesting range of subjects and 9 book reviews. Each issue was accompanied by an informative newsletter produced by Stefan Petrow. THRA continues to be a member of the Federation of Australian Historical Studies.

The Committee continues to work very effectively: our thanks are due to Ian Terry (Vice-President), Andy Mckinlay (Secretary), Ross Kelly (Treasurer), Alison Alexander (Editor), Michael Roe, Stefan Petrow, Chris Tassell and Bernard Lloyd. THRA’s finances remain sound, thanks to our Treasurer Ross Kelly. Further details are contained in the Financial Statement and Auditors Report.

I would like to thank all those who have assisted the Association in 2014. Contributions to our journals, lectures, excursions and the Committee enable THRA to continue to the good work of promoting research and interest in Tasmanian history.

Caroline Homer


The Tasmanian Historical Research Association has continued much the same way as previous years. Our 435 members could attend monthly lectures, or any of three excursions. We publish three issues a year of our journal, THRA Papers and Proceedings.

As usual, the Association hosted eleven lectures. They covered a variety of topics and were given by a variety of lecturers, ranging from staff of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and the University of Tasmania to enthusiastic amateurs and overseas and interstate speakers:


10 February Rebekah McWhirter Lymph or Liberty: Responses to smallpox vaccination in Eastern Australia, 1853-1901
10 March John Carter

Canadian exiles

14 April Bruce Davis
A Tasmanian Life
12 May David Parham
The historical archaeology of Hobart's waterfront vaults
9 June Bronwyn Meikle
The post-self government depression of the 1860s and 1870s
14 July Kathryn Medlockl
The post-settlement history of Thylacines
11 August Peter Boyce
The conserrvative establishment at prayer? St David's Cathedral in Tasmanian social history
8 September James Broadbent
Eldershaw: India, China, Australia: Trade and Society, 1788-1850
13 October Caroline Evans
"A funny old hobby": Sir William Crowther's collection of Aboriginal remains
10 November Ian McFarlane
Adolphus Schayer - a German perspective on Van Diemen's Land
8 December Rod Thomson
The Spread of European learning in Tasmania: The Libraries of Christ College and Ancanthe

The Eldershaw Lecture by Dr James Broadbent was particularly interesting and wonderfully illustrated. It was held in the Dechaineux Theatre at the School of Art. Other lectures were held in the Royal Society Room of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. Attendance averaged fifty, and as usual members enjoyed Michael Roe’s minutes, especially his summaries of previous papers.

As in 2008, the Association published three issues of Papers and Proceedings, edited by Heather Felton. They contained 264 pages, with 16 papers and 6 book reviews – similar to the totals for all years in the last decade.  Topics of the papers varied from smallpox and vaccination to climate change, female arsonists transported from Ireland, and the search for Tasmania’s highest mountain peak. Two ‘Tasmanian Lives’ were included, by Bruce Davis and Vera Fisher. Of the fifteen authors, six were published by THRA for the first time. Nine papers had been presented to the Association.

Each issue of Papers and Proceedings was accompanied by an informative newsletter, produced by Stefan Petrow. The hard work of posting Papers and Proceedings was done by various people including stalwarts Ross Kelly, Michael Roe, Stefan Petrow, Margaret Glover, Caroline Homer and Alison Alexander.

The Association hosted five excursions during 2008. In the March weekend members travelled around the Campbell Town district, following the course of the Isis and Macquarie rivers.  This enjoyable and interesting excursion was ably organised by member Mary Ramsay whom we thank most appreciatively. Members were especially pleased to be able to inspect several notable historic houses, and no one will forget the climb to the top of the hill where Eliza Forlonge established her merino flock.

 In June we had a most interesting tour of the National Trust’s historic house, Runnymede at New Town, ably escorted by the Curator, Gemma Webberley, and a volunteer.  Afternoon tea in the music room was much enjoyed.

In October we visited Woodsdale where the local historical society have extended their range of museums to include a machinery shed and a wool exhibit, as well as a display of the district’s bridal finery from the last century. This was much enjoyed, as was the peerless morning tea and lunch, and visits to the church, the old school museum and the shed made of kerosene tins.  After lunch we visited the property of Stonehenge and the township of Swanston, where Vera Fisher spoke to us and the owner, John Tribolet, kindly allowed us to see over his property. 

Many members attended the biennial Tasmanian historical societies’ conference, hosted by the First Settlers Association.  This attracted a large audience, with speakers tackling various aspects of the theme of early Tasmanian businesses.

Our attractive new website was available in early 2009, under the direction of vice-president, Ian Terry.  It has been most successful, and much appreciated by members. THRA had no major publication in 2008, though several are being planned. Sales of previous publications continued, ably organised by Margaret Glover.

THRA continues to be a member of the Federation of Australian Historical Societies and our delegate, Dianne Snowden, attended FAHS’s annual conference and represented THRA in FAHS’s regular teleconferences.

The committee functioned particularly harmoniously during the year: as well as members mentioned above, thanks to Andy McKinlay (secretary), Ross Kelly (treasurer) and Caroline Homer (supper). Our custom is that president serve three-year terms and so I am stepping down as president, after three enjoyable years.

THRA’s finances remain sounded, though it was necessary to raise the subscription for 2010 to $45 for personal members.  The committee considered the case for a reduced subscription for members who did not want to receive Papers & Proceedings, but decided against it. Sadly, some long-term members passed away during the year, notably Hugh Campbell, Honorary Life Member and co-editor for many years. On a more positive note, one of THRA’s founders, Bob Sharman, has recently returned to live in Hobart and has agreed to become our Patron.

 In conclusion I would like to thank all those who have assisted the Association during the year. A voluntary association like THRA depends on many members for assistance in all sorts of ways, and this is much appreciated.

Alison Alexander, President

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