General Information for Affiliates

Federation of Australian Historical Societies (Inc.) - general information

The Federation was established in 1977, has eight constituent members, one in each state and territory, and is the national peak body representing the interests of about 1,000 historical societies and approaching 100,000 members throughout Australia. The constituent member organisations are:

  • Canberra and District Historical Society (Inc.)
  • Historical Society of the Northern Territory (inc.)
  • History South Australia
  • Royal Australian Historical Society (Inc.)
  • Royal Historical Society of Queensland (Inc.)
  • Royal Historical Society of Victoria (Inc.)
  • Royal Western Australian Historical Society (Inc.)
  • Tasmanian Historical Research Association (Inc.)

The Federation communicates with governments and public officials to inform them about issues affecting historical societies and museums, and to advocate the interests of historical societies and museums.

The Federation provides, via the "Support" drop-down menu on its website, access to a variety of online guides and training materials to assist historical societies, including its guides to:   

  • heritage identification and protection (formerly FAHS Heritage Handbook)
  • heritage tourism Cultural landscapes
  • how to publish historical materials (Publishing History).
  • disaster planning and recovery

The Federation publishes a bi-annual Newsletter and a monthly E-bulletin.  These publications are distributed to historical societies across Australia.  You are encouraged to distribute them to all your members who have internet access. If you are not receiving them please contact the Federation (E-mail:; Ph: 02 6295 2837;
Post:GPO Box 1440, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia).

Messages from Federation of Australian Historical Societies to all historical societies

Two national surveys were conducted by the Federation relating to historical societies' general situation and their collections.  The results of these surveys have now been posted on the Federation's website.  The following links will take you there:

General situation:

Collections Management

FAHS is a partner of Blue Shield Australia in an international network seeking to protect the world’s cultural heritage threatened by armed conflict and natural disasters. Local historical societies are invited to join the Local History Backup where they choose five to ten significant or interesting ‘hero’ objects from their collection, and photograph or scan them. These copies then go into either a physical time capsule, or a digital time capsule ( For further advice and to inform FAHS that you are participating in the campaign, please contact the Online Outreach Officer at — when Australia re-opens later this year.

Local History and Schools’ Curriculum is a Federation of Australian Historical Societies guidelines project designed to assist local historical societies connect with the teachers and students at schools in their areas. 

Ann Parry, a professional schools’ curriculum designer based in the ACT, was contracted by the FAHS to construct the guidelines. During her three years’ research Ann Parry visited local societies in Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania. She addressed teachers at professional conferences and conducted questionnaires to gather their experience and opinions. Ann also addressed the Royal Australian Historical Society annual conference and presented at the FAHS October Meeting in Melbourne.

The Local History and Schools’ Curriculum guidelines connect the schools’ curriculum with resources available in local historical societies, include valuable suggestions about how they may be used by teachers and societies and provide pathways beyond traditional approaches. The guidelines are an invaluable and unique resource which we hope will encourage liaison between schools and local historical societies, to the enhancement of both.

The curriculum guide was initiated, managed and edited by Esther Davies, Canberra & District Historical Society delegate and Vice President, FAHS  and Julia Ryan, President, Canberra & District Historical Society and delegate to FAHS and is available at'%20Curriculum.html

National Heritage Listing - Parramatta Female Factory

The Royal Australian Historical Society is delighted to report that the Parramatta Female Factory and Institutions Precinct has been given National Heritage Listing, and its supporters are now seeking World Heritage Listing for Convict sites. Approximately 5000 female convicts passed through Parramatta. From here women were assigned to masters or married. It was also a hospital, factory manufacturing cloth, asylum and prison for those who committed a further crime in the colony.

Bendigo Historical Society has produced a World War I music CD – Songs of the Anzacs. The production was an agreement between legendary musician Peter Ellis (Emu Creek Bush Band) and the Bendigo Historical Society. Copies of the CD are still available. For further information please contact the Collection Manager Kay MacGregor:

An interesting new book has been published by the Royal Historical Society of Victoria – Writing and Publishing Local History: A Guide for First-time Authors and Historical Societies, authored by Rosalie Triolo, Helen Doyle and Katya Johanson. The RHSV recognised that there is widespread community enthusiasm for local histories, but few people have the relevant knowledge to make their research readily available in a permanent form. Writing and Publishing Local History provides step-by-step advice from preliminary planning to final publication. The book can be ordered from the RHSV Bookshop or downloaded free at –

Digital Access to Collections Toolkit (GLAM - Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums)

This new guide provides practical steps for volunteers and staff in small to medium organisations in Australia that are collecting digital items, undertaking digitisation, and providing online access to their collections.

For access to this toolkit go to and follow the links.


Toodyay Historical Society- old brick flour mill
Toodyay Historical Society, 2009
Photo: Helen Henderson


TROVE has received additional funding

Are you someone who helps to make Trove the Commonwealth government’s fourth most heavily used website, behind the Bureau of Meteorology, Centrelink and the Department of Human Services, with more than 55,000 visitors a day? If so there’s good news! The National Library of Australia has been given a funding boost including an upgrade for the digital resources portal. After cuts in 2015, there is now a $16.4 million allocation over four years for digitising material and upgrading critical infrastructure. Remember when trawling through newspapers was a time-consuming and, in the end, overwhelming task? No more, and this injection of funds will help to ensure TROVE’s viability and growth into the future.

A valuable NSW initiative

The Pathfinders – the History of NSW Aboriginal Tracker’ is being developed by Michael Bennett, historian for Native Title Services Corp. The website ( provides an overview of the history of NSW trackers from 1862 when the current NSW Police Force was established, through to 1973 when the last tracker retired. There is also a timeline and information on the lives of individual trackers, including details on the police stations where they worked and lived, as well as the traditional language groups to which some of the trackers belonged. ‘A good tracker could pick up the smallest change in the landscape and quickly work out in which direction a person or animal was moving’. Here is a NSW project well worth copying!

Good News From Canberra!!

As of 1 January this year millions of items from Australia’s history and heritage collections fell out of copyright for the first time, finally becoming free for all to use. This wealth of new material is a result of changes to copyright law introduced by the Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and other Measures) Act 2017. An aberration of Australian law had meant that unpublished materials - letters, diaries, shipping manifests, and such like - remained in copyright in perpetuity. The new law reverses that, giving unpublished materials the same copyright term as their published counterparts. This means most of Australia’s national collection will now have a copyright term of 70 years after the author’s death. The changes also create a new term of 70 years for materials with unknown authors, known as orphan works