“Australian Lives: An Intimate History” interactive ebook

Australian Lives: An Intimate History illuminates Australian life across the 20th and into the 21st century: how Australian people have been shaped by the forces and expectations of contemporary history and how, in turn, they have made their lives and created Australian society.

In this video, oral historian Alistair Thomson introduces you to the Australian Lives ebook, which enables readers to be listeners to the hundreds of oral history extracts in the book, and which curates access into one of Australia’s largest online oral history collections. Al demonstrates the extraordinary technology that made the book possible and which brings oral histories alive on the page and in the archive.

This video demonstrates a new resource for school and university teaching. The Australian Lives ebook curates access into one of Australia’s largest online oral history collections, so that students can read – and listen – to 50 Australians born between 1920 and 1989 talking about their personal histories across the past century.

Alistair Thomson is Professor of History at Monash University and the president of Oral History Australia.
Anisa Puri is a professional historian, a PhD candidate at Monash University and the President of Oral History NSW.

OHV committee thanks outgoing President Al Thomson

At this year’s AGM, after serving in the role for the past three years, Alistair Thomson stood down as OHV President, as constitutionally required. In his outgoing report, Al acknowledged the contributions of fellow committee members, as he has generously done each year. In turn, those who have worked with him on committee over this period would now like to take the opportunity to thank him personally for his own very considerable efforts during this time, and to alert all OHV members to the breadth of his achievements as their President.

A glance at Al’s annual reports over this three-year term would quickly highlight for members the giant steps the Association has taken under his stewardship, but it is worth drawing attention to some of them again here:

  • Under Al’s encouragement and through his extensive networking skills, he has helped recruit new people to fill specific roles on the OHV committee. As he put it, these committee members “…combine a wide range of oral history experience: from family and community history, from professional history and public history institutions, and from the academic world.” The composition of the committee has changed over the past three years but all its members have learned from and enjoyed the experience of working under Al’s leadership.
  • Al has been the driver behind the creation and/ or expansion of a lively calendar of events, including the consolidation and regular scheduling of introductory and advanced training workshops; the hosting of public lectures, seminars and masterclasses with internationally-renowned oral historians; the continuation of an annual mid-year symposium providing opportunities for members to present or workshop their latest projects under specified themes; the introduction of two new OHV awards and incorporation of awards presentations by short listed candidates at the annual AGM evening; the first Oral History Exhibition and Members’ Showcase; the introduction and hosting of a regular OHV Ideas and Skills Exchange; and the provision of bursaries to assist selected OHV members in their efforts to attend interstate conferences.
  • To help in the promotion of events and news dissemination, Al has overseen and actively assisted plans to improve OHV’s social media platforms, including a major makeover of the Association’s website – so that it is now more attractive, affordable, manageable and effective – and the lively OHV Facebook site.

Al leaves the OHV Presidency at a time when the Association is in arguably ruddy good health – enjoying a robust financial state, boosted membership numbers, and a more efficient event and membership management system – no coincidence there! But the Association remains a small organisation, run entirely by volunteer effort, and can ill afford to lose officials of Al’s calibre if it is to maintain or improve its momentum and reach. Fortunately, Al will continue to assist the committee, serving as Vice President in the coming year, and we remain indebted to him for this and, again, for all he has contributed to OHV in recent years. And no resting on laurels needless to say. Readers of REWIND need look no further than the last edition for news of some of his plans for new project activity in the coming year. Watch this space!

President’s report, AGM, 26 October 2017

This has been another successful year for Oral History Victoria. We’ve had a tremendously hard-working and collegial committee and I thank them all, collectively, for their efforts. Most of this year’s Committee have agreed to continue into the next year, but I want to thank two colleagues who have been active contributors in recent years and are stepping down to take on other challenges, Carissa Goudey and Katrina Lolicato. We also have several OHV members who are nominating at the AGM to join the committee for the first time. It’s great to have both experience and renewal. The new and continuing nominees for the Committee come from the range of contexts within which oral history is practised (including professional history, public history institutions, community history, activism and education) and will combine experience with new energy and ideas to continue OHV’s good work and take it in new directions.

Events are the core work of OHV. Rochelle Lade, with support from Carissa, Jodie Boyd and other committee members, developed and ran an impressive program of events this past year. We have continued to run two sets of training workshops (in partnership with City of Port Phillip Emerald Hill Library) and in 2017 enjoyed excellent enrolments and very positive evaluations for the Oral History introductory workshops facilitated by Sarah Rood (in March and August) and for Advanced Workshops on Audio Editing (Sarah Rood, April) and Writing Oral History (Al Thomson, September). We’ll repeat this cycle of early and mid-year, Introductory / Advanced workshops in 2018 – though we are also hoping to run a regional training workshop in Gippsland and perhaps a more intensive training event for experienced oral historians. Other events in 2017 included a Melbourne launch for the Australian Generations oral history project publication Australian Lives; a one day symposium on Oral History in a Digital Age (hosted once again by COASIT and Museo Italiano); and the 2017 Innovation Awards presentations at this year’s AGM (for which we shortlisted four excellent projects). The “Oral History Victoria Ideas and Skills Exchange” was a different type of OHV innovation in 2017. Held every few months on Tuesdays at The Moat cafe bar near the State Library, and facilitated by an OHV committee member, this was a sociable opportunity for members to come along and discuss their oral history projects and get advice about issues and challenges. Our next Exchange will be on 14 November. The new committee will meet on 27 November to plan an enticing events program for 2018 – we look forward to suggestions from members.

Social media is essential for promoting and showcasing OHV events and news. Over the past year Jessica Ferrari and Carissa Goudey have managed and improved the OHV website by adding a “Member’s Recent Work” section which provides a platform for members to showcase their recent projects. Christin Quirk has continued to run the lively OHV Facebook site even after she stepped aside from the Committee.

These activities and media have boosted membership over the 100 mark; 114 at last count, pending confirmation from our Membership Secretary Marie Nunan who is currently enjoying a well-earned break after managing membership applications this past year.

Some of the work that sustains a voluntary organisation like ours is less obvious, so I want to highlight the effective and highly valued contributions of our Treasurer Jodie Boyd, our Secretary Ken Berryman, Rewind Editor Halina Nowicka, and Vice President Susan Faine. The work of all our officers and committee members has been facilitated by the invaluable partnership with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria which has hosted committee meetings and other OHV events.

Our Constitution only permits the President to serve a three-year term, so I’m stepping aside at the AGM after three years in the role, though I am happy to continue to serve on the Committee. I am confident that there will be other well-qualified candidates to take on OHV leadership roles into the future. In September I was elected President of Oral History Australia. The latest OHV Rewind includes details of some of my plans for national activities in the coming year – including a project to help save Australia’s oral history heritage. I’ll keep you posted.

Alistair Thomson, President, Oral History Victoria, 2015-17