Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New England Australia History Research Report - April 2009 2

Over the last few weeks, my reading has been largely focused on the western tablelands and slopes. I have to complete that, as well as finish writing up my earlier notes on New England's prehistory before I attempt anything else. However, a comment by Jim Simon on New England Airways - Postscript reminded me that I had yet to read  Virtue In Flying written by Joan Priest.

The reading I have been doing on the Aborigines means that I am close to putting a comma in this part of my research in that I now have at least some idea of the flow of England's Aboriginal history from 50,000 years ago to the present. Obviously there are still huge gaps, but the framework is there. So my reading is now deepening my knowledge.

I already had something of a framework for the western tablelands and slopes. Here my recent reading has been fleshing this out a little more. Once I write up my notes, I will have at least base material for mining and the Chinese, as well as much more detailed material on the patterns of settlement as well as town life.

I cannot afford to open a new front until I have bedded existing reading down. However, I then plan to switch focus to the North Coast and especially transport.

One book I have to find and read is North Coast Run: Men and Ships of the N.S.W. North Coast, By Michael P. Richards, Mike Richards. Published by Turton & Armstrong, 1977' ISBN 0908031025, 9780908031023. I started looking at shipping some time ago, but then put it aside. I need to fill this gap. In checking publication details for this book I also found an archaeological report on the PS Rainbow.

I have already written a little on the fascinating history of New England Airways. Virtue in Flying: A Biography of Pioneer Aviator Keith Virtue By Joan Priest, Published by Angus & Robertson, 1975, ISBN 0207132305, 9780207132308, will allow me to flesh this out.

When I first started my attempt to write my history of New England all those years ago, my work had a strong focus on politics. The political theme is still there, but there is now a much stronger focus on social history and on people.

It's not always the prominent, although there are many fascinating larger than life characters. The real challenge is to bring the history alive through the eyes of ordinary people.

Much of my work draws from secondary sources. This is synthesis, rather than research based heavily on primary sources. I worry about this sometimes, but there is really no practical alternative. The task is just too big otherwise.

I am very conscious as I read as to just how many of the secondary sources are out of print. Time moves on, and fashions change. This remains one of the drivers for my own work, the need to redress the balance in some way. 

No comments: