Themes

[ Australia’s war history | Anzac analysed | Reality of war | Home front | Aftermath | War literature | Strands of Australian history | The land we live in | People like us | Ruling ourselves | The sweat of our brows | Learning and improving | Expressing ourselves | Getting on with the world | Using and abusing history | Teaching history | Jauncey’s view archive ]

Honest History provides a regularly renewing resource illustrating the richness of Australian history. Under each of the headings below there are dozens of references, including details of author, title and publishing. Some items include summaries or extracts. Some articles have been specially written for Honest History. Assistance with finding your way around the material is in our general guide to Navigating this site.

Wherever possible we have included links to

  • the article;
  • further information, including reviews and author’s comments and links to related material which does not appear elsewhere on our site;
  • biographical information; and
  • a list of the author’s publications (particularly where we have included only some of these publications in our list and the author has others on related subjects).

Each section has a brief, illustrated introductory essay (headed ‘About…’) with links to many items although some readers may prefer to skip the intro and just browse through the full collection of items in the section. Each item has a clickable feature which takes you to the full list of related items.

Untitled
Postcard ca. 1915, George Eastman House Photography Collection: ‘our motto is: always and no matter what’ (source: National Archives of the United Kingdom, 1973:0126:0020; maker: Myosotis)

Australia’s war history
Anzac analysed: here there is perceptive analysis of the Anzac tradition (or myth) as it has developed since 1915. This material comes to grips with the emotions that Anzac evokes, how and why it has come to occupy such a disproportionate place in our history, and how it might be reinterpreted. The site does not contain much material about purely military aspects of the Gallipoli campaign; these are more than adequately covered on other websites.

Then, recognising that there is more to the story than heroic tales of men in khaki, this section also details the reality of war, life on the home front and the aftermath for those who served, their families and Australia as a whole. It reflects the priority we are giving to what war did to Australia and Australians, rather than on what Australians did in war. While the emphasis is on World War I, there is material on World War II and our other wars as well. The poetry, prose, pictures and music of war often reveal things and feelings that mere reportage cannot. Our War literature section will build gradually to feature the work of Australian and international authors and artists dealing with World War I and other wars.

Strands of Australian history
The key to the Honest History concept is ‘not only Anzac but also many other strands of Australian history’. These other strands are the themes and patterns that have tended to be overshadowed by the recent stress on military stories. Here there is material categorised under seven headings: The land we live in; People like us; Ruling ourselves; The sweat of our brows; Learning and improving; Expressing ourselves; Getting on with the world.

Respectively, the seven headings cover: pre-history, exploration, environment; social history; political history; economic history; education and science; culture; defence, foreign affairs and immigration. There are, however, lots of overlaps and the best way to become familiar with the material on the site is to plunge in.

Using and abusing history
One of the main aims of Honest History is to show how history is often abused to suit current political purposes and, on the other hand, to suggest that history can legitimately be called into play to support policy development. This section presents resources from Australian and international writers.

Teaching history
Honest History hopes to be useful to teachers of history at secondary and tertiary levels. In particular, we believe history teachers play an important role in giving students the tools to work perceptively and critically with their own national story and to resist the abuse of history. This section reproduces useful material and refers teachers to other sources and we intend to build it further.

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