Detail from Percy Leason, Thomas Foster, 1934, oil on canvas, 76.0 x 60.8 cm, State Library Victoria, Melbourne.
Gift of Mrs Isabelle Leason, 1969 (H32094) © Max Leason
Anthropologist Percy Leason thought he was painting the extinction of Victoria's Indigenous people in the 1930s. He was wrong, but his portraits, part of a new exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, are surprisingly sympathetic.
Delegates to the Australasian Federation Conference, Melbourne, 1890, where being white, male and bearded was standard form.
National Library of Australia
This year is the 120th anniversary of the Australasian Federal Convention through which, with rancour, prejudices and vested interests, the Australian nation was eventually born.
Ben Hall and Tim Draxl in Only Heaven Knows
Queer life thrived in 1940s Sydney despite policing and prohibition, as a new production of the musical Only Heaven Knows demonstrates. But it was not to last.
A treaty would be an agreement that is rather like that of host and guest, with rights and responsibilities for each party.
Treaties have to be the foundation for constitutional recognition, not the reverse.
‘We cannot talk about building truthful relationships without being honest about the racialised realities of our social world.’
The result of the 1967 referendum may well have made Australia appear less racist, but it did not address the inherently racist nature of the Constitution.
People look out over an ornamental lake from behind a wrought iron fence at the Carlton Gardens.
State Library of Victoria
Melbourne is a product of British colonial planning policies to control public access and movement in Australian cities. This legacy still influences the use of public spaces today.
Australians are deeply attached to the cluster of beliefs and traditions we call the ‘Anzac legend’.
In 1960, historian Ken Inglis wondered if Anzac functioned as a secular religion in Australian society. In 2017, we can confidently answer: yes, it does.
Gone are the days when we were told to suck out a snake’s venom. So what’s the current treatment and how have treatments changed over time?
State Library of NSW/Hood
Snake bite treatments have changed remarkably over the past 200 years. But most, if not all, made sense in their historical context.
Was World Vision Australia chief advocate Tim Costello right to say that Australia’s foreign aid spending was at its highest under Menzies, at 0.5% of gross national income?
AAP Image/Royal Australian Air Force, CPL Jessica de Rouw
We check the facts on how Australia's foreign aid spend has changed over time.
The Founding of Australia. By Capt. Arthur Phillip R.N. Sydney Cove, Jan. 26th 1788, Algernon Talmadge R.A, 1937.
State Library of NSW
The marking of our national day has long been fraught, and this year is no exception.
Some Aboriginal people and a number of other Australians see Australia Day as a day of mourning.
Protesting about Australia Day is a smokescreen to obscure the real problems that many Aboriginal Australians face today.
The 1850s gold rush in Victoria brought an influx of prospectors from China, seeking their fortunes.
National Museum of Australia
Historians may not be the media stars they were in the 1980s, but understanding our history remains vital to understanding ourselves.
William Westall’s drawing of the body of an Indigenous man shot at Blue Mud Bay (1803).
National Library of Australia
The English navigator had a habit of fair-mindedness. But did it affect the way he related to local Aboriginal people as he circumnavigated Australia?
Rose and Groote Eylandters Nertichunga, Machana and Nabia, Groote Eylandt, 1941.
Courtesy of SLNSW, Frederick Rose papers, Box 5
The book Red Professor: the Cold War Life of Fred Rose tells of a progressive anthropologist who was stymied by non-Indigenous people in powerful positions. Sadly, it's a narrative that still resonates today.
Clare Wright: one of many women historians carving a role as a public intellectual.
Compared to the male-dominated STEM disciplines and social sciences like philosophy and political science, Australian history has been remarkably feminised. Indeed there may be more women historians here than in the UK or US.
Does this rock painting, featuring a long, white gun, depict first contact? Is it a work of history?
Australian history is already a hotly contested discipline but is it time to broaden our definitions of the canon? Might an indigenous rock painting or a novel or a poem constitute a work of history?
Vincent Lingiari looks on as Prime Minister Gough Whitlam swigs champagne after the symbolic handback of the Gurindji people’s land.
A new book reveals the drama and comedy of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam's famous "hand back" of Gurindji land in 1975, following the Wave Hill Walk-Off 50 years ago – and the bittersweet aftermath.
Gurindji ranger Ursula Chubb pays her respects to ancestors killed in the early 1900s at Blackfella Creek, where children were tied with wire and dragged by horses, and adults were shot as they fled. They were buried under rocks where they fell.
Brenda L Croft, from Yijarni
The Gurindji people of the Northern Territory made history 50 years ago by standing up for their rights to land and better pay. But a new book reveals the deeper story behind the Wave Hill Walk-Off.
What are the criteria for a Prime Minister intervening in these awards? Literary reasons? Personal reasons? ‘History war’ reasons?
They should be our pre-eminent national writing prizes. Instead, these awards bob on the vast sea of daily politics, occasionally getting dumped by a breaker.
No progress will be made on asylum policy until the major parties move to a positive bipartisanship.
Australia's history of dealing with asylum seekers has been a long and chequered one, paving the way for the hardline bipartisanship we see today.