“Hazel de Berg (1913–1984) was a woman of immense talent who, from 1957 onwards, created the National Library of Australia’s first oral history collection. Over 27 years, she recorded the voices of 1,290 Australians born between 1865 and 1953, including artists, writers, composers, scientists and many others. In December 2020, her legacy reaches a whole new audience as part of an innovative collaboration between the National Library and the National Portrait Gallery. Extracts from her recordings bring to life a wide range of portraits, matching visual and audio elements to create an immersive and moving experience. Visitors to the Portrait Gallery (and people across the world who download the specially designed app) will be able to hear extraordinary Australians in their own words (a great many of whom have passed away), thanks to Hazel de Berg’s efforts recording them decades prior.” Read more here.
“In the 101 years since the ‘Spanish Flu’, the world has changed. Penicillin has been discovered, there has been a second World War and technological advancements have seen man walk on the moon and a device created that fits in your pocket that contains most of the knowledge known to the world. This device has increased the number of people with access to breaking news and largely changed the way it is consumed. It also means that the way we record history has changed. Gone are the days where the printed daily newspaper was the single source of truth. Now, people turn to websites and social media for to-the-minute updates on developing situations, like COVID-19.” Read full story here.
“Imagine if you could reach out with a microphone to the past, back as far as World War I, and speak to an original Anzac who had just returned from the front to an influenza epidemic that would go on to kill more people than the war itself. Their voices can be heard, and their faces can be seen at the National Library of Australia’s website. The National Library of Australia is the nation’s historian, preserving our books, recordings, documents, maps, papers, media items and even websites. For full story click here.
Professor Alistair Thomson from the history program at Monash University said that “although Melbourne’s GMH plants at Fishermen’s Bend and Dandenong closed much earlier than the South Australian plants, working for Holden is still a powerful memory for many former Victorian Holden workers, perhaps especially in Melbourne’s southeast, where residential suburbs created in the 1950s and ’60s catered for Holden families”. For full story click here.
Vilma Ryan spent her early years in Bagtown – a community near the Cowra Aboriginal missions. She left school at 14 but later put herself through TAFE. She then set about improving education for her people. She was on the board of the Murrawina Preschool for Aboriginal children in Redfern and one of four people Charlie Perkins sent to Santa Fe Indian School to learn how to establish an Aboriginal high school, which they did. For full story click here.
When Hazel de Berg began recording life stories in 1957, the expensive machine she used was cumbersome, heavy and rare. Reel-to-reel tape recorders had only been in Australia for several years; she taught herself to use one and sought advice on the technology from a friend at the ABC. But Ms de Berg's best tool was her natural ability to persuade people to talk — a charm and a persistence which eventually resulted in an extraordinary oral history collection at the National Library of Australia (NLA). For full story click here.
Australian Lesbian and Gay Life Stories, a national oral history project currently underway, seeks to explore this transformation further. The project is a collaboration between the National Library of Australia, Macquarie University and two other Australian universities, supported by funding from the Australian Research Council. Different generations of gay and lesbian individuals will provide insight into what it has been like to live a gay or lesbian life in Australia from the 1940s to the present, when attitudes have shifted so remarkably. For full story click here.
As a historian, Michelle Potter has recorded over a hundred oral histories for the National Library of Australia, collecting a diverse collection of stories from Australians from all walks of life. Michelle has interviewed politicians, musicians, artists and designers and conceded it's a job she's honoured to do. For full story including ABC radio interview click here.