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Royal Australian Historical Society

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Royal Australian Historical Society
RAHS 133 Macquarie.JPG
History House at 133 Macquarie
FounderAndrew Houison
Founding President
TypeHistorical society; incorporated company limited by guarantee
ABN 91 000 027 654
Registration no.ACN 000 027 654
Area served
Formerly called
Australian History Society
Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society
Publication details
Former name(s)
Journal and Proceedings, Australian Historical Society, Journal and Proceedings, Royal Australian Historical Society
Royal Australian Historical Society (Australia)
Standard abbreviations
ISO 4J. R. Aust. Hist. Soc.
OCLC no.241448762
History: Magazine of the Royal Australian Historical Society
PublisherRoyal Australian Historical Society
First issue1988

The Royal Australian Historical Society, formerly Australian Historical Society, is a voluntary organisation founded in Sydney, Australia in 1901[1][2] with Andrew Houison as founding president.[3] Its goals are to encourage the study of and interest in Australian history. It has a membership throughout Australia and many of its activities and facilities are funded by contributions from its members and benefactors.[4]

The society is a constituent member of the Federation of Australian Historical Societies.[5]

It publishes the biannual academic journal Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society (JRAHS), which commenced as The Australian Historical Society Journal and Proceedings in 1901, which is the oldest historical journal in Australia, and a quarterly magazine called History: Magazine of the Royal Australian Historical Society.


The goals of the society are:[6]

  • to encourage the study of Australian history and the preservation of Australian heritage
  • to promote the compilation of authentic records relating to Australia
  • to acquire, either by purchase, donation or otherwise, and preserve for the use of the society books, manuscripts, newspapers, prints, pictures and all such objects and materials (in any media) as may be considered by the Council to have a bearing on Australian history, and to establish, form, furnish and maintain a library
  • to promote interchange of information among members of the Society by lectures, readings, discussions, exhibitions of historical significance, tours, excursions and other appropriate means
  • to print, publish (in any media) and circulate such journals, periodicals, books and other literary or other undertakings as may seem conducive to any of the objects of the society


A public meeting in Sydney Town Hall on 30 October 1900 resulted in a resolution that an "Australian Historical Society" would be formed, in order to collect and preserve records, prints, photographs, books and other material relating to the history of Australia.[7] The inaugural meeting of the Australian Historical Society on 15 March 1901 was attended by about ten people.[8] The first president was Andrew Houison, and the first patron David Scott Mitchell (founder of the Mitchell Library).[9]

Membership grew, and in 1918, the Society was granted the right to use the prefix "Royal".[8]

The society's first premises, History House, opened at 8 Young Street, Sydney, in 1941, which remained its home until the move to the new (and current) History House at 133 Macquarie Street in 1971.[8]

A. G. L. Shaw served on the Council of the RAHS during the 1950s and 1960s.[10]


The society undertakes a range of activities including lectures and workshops, functions, walks, talks, and visits on a wide variety of topics in Australian history. It holds an annual conference which addresses current historical issues in local history and heritage. The society also has a research library with an extensive collection of pictorial and text resources on all aspects of the history of New South Wales. In addition it administers grant schemes on behalf of the New South Wales government for the promotion of heritage and the writing and publication of local history.[11]


The Society's journal is the oldest historical journal in Australia.[12][13]

The Sydney Morning Herald was an active supporter of the Society, and in December 1901 urged that the Society publish a journal, so that the work of the society could reach a wider audience. However, this was not taken up until March 1906,[7] when the Journal and Proceedings, "Volume 1 1901 Part 1", was first published in March 1906[Note 1][14][8][15] with the standardised library title of "Journal and proceedings (Australian Historical Society)".[Note 2] The first issue included a paper by Alfred Lee entitled "The Landing of Governor Phillip in Port Jackson". Volume 1 consisted of 12 parts which were published quarterly. Improvements in design and the addition of illustrations were introduced in Volumes II and IV (1917), and at the same time the editors announced a shift in editorial direction. Until then the journal had been publishing papers presented at the Society in the past, but from this point it was intended to publish more about the proceedings of the Society. This eventuated in the form of reports of excursions, answers to enquiries, and discussions about past published papers.[7]

Between 1918 and 1964, after the society had adopted the "Royal" prefix, its standardised title became "Journal and proceedings / Royal Australian Historical Society".[16] A. G. L. Shaw was editor of the journal[10] from 1954 to 1964, the first professionally trained historian to edit it.[12]

From the March issue of Volume 51 in 1965, the journal changed radically, increasing its size to about 400 pages, issued in four parts. At the same time it changed its name to Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society (JRAHS).[7] The journal was published quarterly until 1992, and since then has been published biannually.[17] The peer-reviewed, biannual academic journal[18] containing original, previously unpublished scholarly articles and book reviews and images.[12][13]

Past issues under their respective titles (1901–June 1918 and 1918–1964) are available online as scanned copies,[19][20] and the Journal is available as an electronic resource via Informit since 2012.[21] An index of all journals between 1901 and 1985 exists on microform.[22] The JRAHS has a Green Open Access policy, meaning that authors deposit a free copy of an electronic document online in order to provide open access to it.[13] Its ISO 4 abbreviation is J. R. Aust. Hist. Soc..

The society also publishes the quarterly magazine, History, subtitled Magazine of the Royal Australian Historical Society. This grew from the Society’s newsletter, which began in March 1962 as a monthly supplement to the Journal and Proceedings. Its magazine format and name commenced in October 1988.[13][23]

During the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, the June editions of both publications were made temporarily available to the general public online.[13]


The following persons have been president of the society:[10]

  • 2018–present Christine Isabel Yeats
  • 2014–2018 Carol Ann Liston
  • 2012–2014 Anne-Maree Harriet Cox Whitaker
  • 2011–2012 David Sulman Carment
  • 2003–2011 Robert Ian Jack
  • 2002 Carol Ann Liston
  • 1999–2001 Ruth Meredith Frappell
  • 1993–1998 Rosemary Diane Annable
  • 1988–1992 Carol Ann Liston
  • 1987 Robert Charles Lewis Irving
  • 1985–1986 John Michael Bennett
  • 1982–1984 Alice Hazel Kelso King
  • 1977–1981 Kenneth John Cable
  • 1970–1976 Rae Else-Mitchell
  • 1963–1969 Allan Ernest Bax
  • 1961–1962 Harold Arthur MacLeod Morgan
  • 1959–1960 Alexander Hugh Chisholm
  • 1954–1958 Charles Herbert Currey
  • 1953 Karl Reginald Cramp
  • 1950–1952 James Keith Solling Houison
  • 1948–1949 George Mackaness
  • 1945–1947 Guy Drayson Blaxland
  • 1942–1944 Alfred Ernest Stephen
  • 1940–1941 John Alexander Ferguson
  • 1937–1939 Karl Reginald Cramp
  • 1934–1936 George Henry Abbott
  • 1931–1933 Owen Esmond Friend
  • 1930 Harold Francis Joseph Norrie
  • 1928–1929 Karl Reginald Cramp
  • 1926–1927 James Henry Watson
  • 1923–1925 Aubrey Halloran
  • 1922 John Alexander Ferguson
  • 1921 Karl Reginald Cramp
  • 1920 Reginald James Black
  • 1919 Stephen Henry Smith
  • 1918 Hugh Wright
  • 1917 William Albert Braylesford Greaves
  • 1916 Walter Scott Campbell
  • 1915 Charles Trimby Burfitt
  • 1914 Charles Henry Bertie
  • 1912–1913 Frank Walker
  • 1911 James Dalgarno
  • 1910 William Henry Hazell Yarrington
  • 1909 James Henry Watson
  • 1908 Andrew Houison
  • 1907 Joseph Henry Maiden
  • 1906 William James Günther
  • 1905 Joseph Henry Maiden
  • 1904 Arthur Ashworth Aspinall
  • 1903 William Henry Hazell Yarrington
  • 1902 Norman Selfe
  • 1901 Andrew Houison


  1. ^ with a 2nd edition in 1910
  2. ^ Note: The publication dates in the early years are a bit confusing, e.g. "Part 12, 1905–6" is dated December 1908 (see here; "Volume 2 1906 Part 1" is dated March 1909 (see here; but by 1915 the dates appear to be in sync (see here).


  1. ^ Helen Doyle, "Royal Australian Historical Society" in Graeme Davison, John Hirst and Stuart Macintyre (eds) The Oxford Companion to Australian History (Oxford University Press, 2001) via Oxford Reference Online, Oxford University Press.
  2. ^ (untitled news report), The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 March 1901, p 7, via National Library of Australia, Historical newspaper collection (images and database online), The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842–1954) accessed 5 September 2011.
  3. ^ "Founders". Homepage. Royal Australian Historical Society. Archived from the original on 22 March 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  4. ^ King, H (1988). "The Royal Australian Historical Society 1900–1985, part 2: Growth and Change: the Society 1955–1985". Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society. 73 (4): 267–276.
  5. ^ "FAHS constituents". Homepage. Federation of Australian Historical Societies. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  6. ^ "Constitution of the Royal Australian Historical Society" (PDF). Royal Australian Historical Society. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d McDonald, D.I. (March 1966). "Sixty Years of Scholarship: The Journal of the Society, 1906–1966". Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society. 52 (1).
  8. ^ a b c d "Our history". Royal Australian Historical Society. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  9. ^ "Previous Councillors". Royal Australian Historical Society. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  10. ^ a b c "Royal Australian Historical Society: Previous Councillors". Royal Australian Historical Society. 2018. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  11. ^ "About RAHS". Homepage. Royal Australian Historical Society. Archived from the original on 4 March 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  12. ^ a b c Fletcher, Brian H. "Australia's oldest historical journal" (PDF). Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society. 80 (1&2). Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  13. ^ a b c d e "Publications". Royal Australian Historical Society. 17 June 2020. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  14. ^ Australian Historical Society. (1901), "4 v. ; 21 cm.", Journal and proceedings, Sydney: The Society, ISSN 1325-927X, nla.obj-283107843, retrieved 16 September 2020 – via Trove
  15. ^ Australian Historical Society (1 September 1901), "The Australian Historical Society. Journal and Proceedings. (1 September 1901)", Journal and proceedings, The Society (Vol 1 Part 3), ISSN 1325-927X
  16. ^ "Journal and proceedings / Royal Australian Historical Society". National Library of Australia. 3 September 2020. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  17. ^ "Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society". National Library of Australia. 3 September 2020. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  18. ^ APAIS 1994: Australian public affairs information service. National Library Australia. 2000. p. 21. GGKEY:H33X9S4339K. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  19. ^ Australian Historical Society. (1901), "4 v. ; 21 cm.", Journal and proceedings, Sydney: The Society, ISSN 1325-927X, nla.obj-283107843, retrieved 16 September 2020 – via Trove
  20. ^ Australian Historical Society. (1901), "4 v. ; 21 cm.", Journal and proceedings, Sydney: The Society, ISSN 1325-927X, nla.obj-283107843, retrieved 16 September 2020 – via Trove
  21. ^ "Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society [electronic resource]". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  22. ^ Royal Australian Historical Society (1986), Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society consolidated index, volumes 1-70, 1901-1985, Royal Australian Historical Society, retrieved 16 September 2020
  23. ^ Royal Australian Historical Society (1988), History : magazine of the Royal Australian Historical Society and affiliated societies, The Society, ISSN 1031-9476

Further reading

  • James, Alfred (June 2001). "Much Writing, Many Opinions: The making of the Royal Australian Historical Society 1901-2001". Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society. 87 (1).

External links

This page was last edited on 16 February 2021, at 16:20
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