The Australian woman's mirror, October 18 1938

The Australian woman’s mirror, October 18 1938 via Trove

This year the History Council of NSW’s annual festival in the first week of September, History Week, is exploring popular culture. With tours, talks, exhibitions and more taking place across Sydney and New South Wales, there is something in the program for everyone. Today on 2SER Breakfast, Nicole and Tess looked at just a few of the highlights.

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On Sunday 3 September at Dickson St Space in Newtown, Cathy Perkins will be talking about the influential magazine The Australian woman’s mirror. From 1924 to 1961, the magazine was published as an offshoot of Sydney’s Bulletin magazine, specifically for its female readers. The Australian woman’s mirror’s aim, highlighted in its first issue, was to provide a platform for women writers and connect them with women readers (click here for event details).

The Mirror’s editor, Zora Cross, interviewed many of her fellow writers for the magazine, and without her entertaining profiles, there would be little trace of these writers in literary history or biography. These interviews appeared in the Mirror alongside flapper fashions, home remedies, and articles on ‘women of the world’. The Mirror was also the first Australian publication to feature the American comic strip, The Phantom, in December 1936 (which ties into another History Week exhibition at Manly Art Gallery and Museum, the Phantom Show Exhibition).

Another interesting topic being explored in History Week is Sydney’s drinking culture.

During early settlement, though Sydney did not immediately replicate English cultural practices, officers and free settlers were active in promoting certain sports which they felt demonstrated upper class respectability. While this part of colonial society focused their energies on sports such as horse racing and cricket, convicts reproduced old habits in the form of drinking and gambling. They manufactured their own playing cards and frequented taverns and sly-grog shops. By 1811, there were 40 spirit licences in Sydney and 27 beer licences scattered through the colony.

If you want to find out more about public drinking in colonial NSW, catch Dr Matthew Allen from the University of New England at Camden Library on Saturday 2 September (click here for event details).

The City of Sydney is also hosting another fantastic History Week event in collaboration with the same team who worked on their sold out event Letters of Complaint from last year’s History Week and the related podcasts. In Welcome to the Studio on 6 September, the City’s history unit will be recreating the radio dramas of the 1930s & 40s with actors and community broadcasters at Kings Cross Library. Kings Cross Library sits on the site of the old ABC building which makes it the perfect location for this trip back in time (click here for event details).

There are so many great events to get to – for the full program and to find out what’s on in your local area, go to the History Council of NSW website here.

Happy History Week!

The Dictionary of Sydney is proud to support History Week 2017 as a Cultural Partner of the History Council of NSW 

Nicole Cama is a professional historian, writer and curator, and the Executive Officer of the History Council of NSW.
She appears on 2SER on behalf of the Dictionary of Sydney in a voluntary capacity.

Listen to the podcast with Nicole & Tess here, and tune in to 2SER Breakfast with Nic Healey on 107.3 every Wednesday morning at 8:15-8:20am to hear more from the Dictionary of Sydney.  Tune in next week to hear Dictionary of Sydney special guest Professor Richard Waterhouse.


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