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

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Personal memories & the writing of history

Over on the New England Australia blog, I wrote a short piece Remembering the Tamworth Boys Home and then followed it up with Wednesday Forum - memories of holiday's past. In this post I want to follow up with brief comments on linked historical and historiographical aspects.

Tamworth Boys Home

The Tamworth Boys Home was established under the 1939 Child Welfare Act. This was a Drummond Act. As I read the details of the story, I wondered how Drummond would have felt. I have written a number of pieces on child welfare, including Drummond's life as a ward of the state and then his experiences as  minister in this area. I will pull all this together at some point to provide a consolidated perspective.

I also wondered, and this is a hypothesis, about the relationship between the Tamworth Boys Home and social change. The regime there seems to have been much harsher than in previous juvenile institutions.

The war seems to have relaxed social conventions. When I was looking at the history of TAS (The Armidale School), the war years seem to have been something of a bear garden because all the boys expected to join the Army. I don't think that that was unique to TAS. Later, social order was re-established as society sought to achieve normality after the turmoil of war. I wonder whether this was linked to the apparent harshness at Tamworth. 

In a way all this is only a small sub-text in the history I am writing, but it is still interesting

Memories of holiday's past

One of the wonderful things I have found about blogging is the way that it attracts stories and personal reminisces. This provides personalised material that can be used to bring aspects of past life alive.

I have been conscious of this for some time, but I am now wondering how best to consolidate and use the material. My aim in the Wednesday Forum is to try to attract more!

More broadly, I find that personal memories become more important as my understanding of New England's history grows. By its nature, history is in part about broader patterns. But in this, history is still about people.

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