Clark, Anna: Private Lives, Public History

Clark, Anna

Private Lives, Public History, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Vic., 2016

The past is consumed on a grand scale: popularised by television programs, enjoyed by reading groups, walking groups, historical societies and heritage tours, and supported by unprecedented digital access to archival records. Yet our history has also become the subject of heated political debate.

In Private Lives, Public History, historian Anna Clark explores how our personal pasts intersect with broader historical questions. Drawing on interviews with Australians from five communities around the country, she uncovers how we think about the past in the context of our local and intimate stories, and the role that history plays in our lives. (blurb)

The chapter headings in this slim book are Thinking About History, Connection, History, Commemoration, Contest, Place, Presence of the Past. The book builds on the author’s earlier Teaching the Nation (2006) and History’s Children (2008). See also her lecture on historical consciousness from 2014 which is about the research that went into Private Lives, Public History. More recently, there is her 2016 lecture to the History Council of Victoria on place and historical consciousness in Australia. Anna Clark is one of Honest History’s distinguished supporters.

The book was reviewed for Inside Story by Honest History committee member, Carolyn Holbrook, who also discussed the book in a recent speech for the Professional Historians Association (Victoria). Miriam Cosic reviewed the book for The Australian, Phillip Deery reviewed it for Fairfax, FL reviewed it for The Saturday Paper, and the author talked about it with Ellen Fanning on the ABC. The Age had an extract.

25 April 2016 updated

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