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The Australian National University

Related Histories: Studying the Family

Date and time

Tuesday, 28 November, 2017 - 09:00 - Wednesday, 29 November, 2017 - 17:00

Location or Venue

National Library of Australia, Parkes Place, Barton, ACT


Alan Atkinson
Lorina Barker
Tim Bonyhady
Nick Brodie
Graeme Davison
Anna Green
Jenny Hocking
Janet McCalman
Susannah Radstone
Penny Russell
Angela Wanhalla


person icon Malcolm Allbrook; Sophie Scott-Brown

In 2015 Graeme Davison observed that family history had emerged from the world of the ‘private hobby’ and, taking on new understandings of genealogy, memory and history, become a new ‘shared civic endeavour.’ Everywhere we see evidence of a remarkable upsurge of interest in family history as popular culture, as we become more willing to locate our families ‘in the throes of history’, and ‘against the background of their times.’ As faith in the grand narratives of class, civic responsibility and national identity has declined, family history has come to promise a deeper sense of who we are.

Related Histories: Studying the Family is a two-day conference convened by the National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, and the Centre for Applied History, Macquarie University, in partnership with the National Library of Australia. It will consider some of the big questions in family history in keynote addresses, and hear from a wide variety of family history practitioners through research papers and ten minute presentations. The conference will allow space for discussion and debate of the key questions: How can the different sectors – academics, students, genealogists, and amateur historians – work together to support the development of family history?

Special Event: Graeme Davison, author of the acclaimed Lost Relations: Fortunes of My Family in Australia’s Golden Age (2015), will deliver the conference’s key note lecture in which he will reflect on his research process and the impact of this for his historical thinking.
Location: Theatre, NLA, 28 November 6.30-7.30 pm. The lecture is a free public event.

CONFERENCE COSTS (to cover the cost of tea breaks and lunch)
Both days $165 ($140 concession; $110 students)
Daily rate $85 ($70 concession; $55 students)

Draft Conference program

Day 1: 28th November 2017

9.00-9.30am: Welcome to Country and conference introductions.

9.30-11.00am: Session 1
Family History as Genre
This session will address themes relating to the writing of family history including its relationship to creative (non) fiction. The session will also consider family history, memory and oral story-telling practices.
Susannah Radstone
Tim Bonyhady
Anna Green

11.00-11.30am: morning tea

11.30am-1.00pm: Session 2
Family History Across the Disciplines
This session will accommodate papers that consider how family history facilitates inter-disciplinary research across the social/sciences (genetic research for example)
Cathy Day
Janet McCalman

1.00-2.00pm: lunch

2.00-3.30pm: Session 3
Family History and Transformational Learning
This session looks at family history as pedagogy and its implications for democratising history making and making an intervention into civic consciousness.
Emma Shaw
Kristyn Harman (via video link)
Anna Clark

3.30-4.30pm: afternoon tea

4.30-6.00pm: Session 4
This session will invite seven students/independent researchers to give short informal (no tech) presentations on works-in-progress or provide opportunities to reflect on personal experiences of research. Ideally, professional historians will be in attendance to furnish further conversation on the issues presented.
final list to be confirmed.

6.30-7.30pm: Public Lecture: Graeme Davison

Conference dinner

Day 2: 29th November 2017

9.00-10.30am: Session 5
The Politics of Family History
This session will cover a range of issues including FH and national identity, gender, race and relationships to public history wars/critical historiography.
Angela Wanhalla
Jane McCabe
Jenny Hocking

10.30-11.00am: morning tea

11.00am-12.30pm: Session 6
Family History and the Digital Revolution
This session will cover issues such as the impact of multimedia technologies, scientific advances, academic/non-academic collaborations/hinterlands.
Kate Bagnall
Lorina Barker
Christine Fernon/Scott Yeadon: ADB

12.30-1.30pm: lunch

1.30-3.00pm: Session 7
Family Histories in the Making Session
This session invites professionals (archivists, librarians, genealogists etc.) to provide brief (15 mins), targeted ‘how to’ papers on some aspect of family history research and to then field questions from the audience.
TROVE team, National Library of Australia
Australian Institute of Genealogy
Genealogical Society of Victoria
 National Archives of Australia

3.00-3.30pm: afternoon tea

3.30-5.00pm: Session 8
Family History, History and Historians
This session will address themes including: the rise, fall, rise again of family history within the profession, family history outside of the profession, the work of historians engaged in some form of family history research. 
Penny Russell
Alan Atkinson
Nick Brodie

5.00-5.15pm Concluding comments: Tanya Evans

6.00-6.30pm: Book Launch: Stephen Foster, Zoffany’s Daughter, to be launched by Kim Rubenstein (ANU).


Updated: 18 October 2017/ Responsible Officer:  Director, NCB / Page Contact:  Web Publisher