A Communication Bulletin between Australian Members of the Hakluyt Society No. 1

Australian Members’ Bulletin No. 1

A Communication Bulletin between Australian Members No. 1

Hakluyt Matters in Australia

This Bulletin has been created to provide Australian Members of the Hakluyt Society with an opportunity to be informed about matters of particular interest in Australia and to communicate and share information about events, ideas, research, opportunities and interests. The bulletin has been started by Robert Cook and Martin Woods and will be updated with information about Australian news and events. Most readers will know Dr. Woods as the Society’s representative at the National Library of Australia in Canberra.

The background to this Bulletin: A meeting of Australian Members

In early January 2012, Australian Representative Dr. Martin Woods made an open invitation to Australian members of the Hakluyt Society to meet Hakluyt President Captain Michael Barritt. The invitation was to meet informally and participate in discussion about the Society in Australia.

This get-together was held on February 3 in Canberra at the National Library of Australia (NLA). The twelve Hakluyt members present enjoyed the hospitality provided by Martin and the NLA and the opportunity to meet and talk with President Barritt.

During the morning, Martin arranged for the group to tour two extraordinary exhibitions at the NLA: Handwritten: Ten Centuries of manuscript treasures from Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin and In Every Home: The Australian Women’s Weekly (1933 – 1982).

The afternoon was spent in discussion with Michael who outlined some of the current objectives of the Society and explored the interests of the Australian’s who were present. The afternoon concluded with Martin displaying a number of selected maps and part of the archive collection at the NLA. Dr. Woods is, of course, The Curator of Maps at the Library.

Two particular items arose during discussions. The first item was interest to commence some sort of communication network amongst Australian members. Participants responded warmly to this idea with strong support for regular electronic communication and perhaps occasional get-togethers. To this end, a list of email addresses for twenty-one Australian members was compiled to get something started. As well, Michael undertook to check the possibility of networking through the Society’s web site.

Second, Michael reminded the group that the Society plans to publish, in two volumes, a new scholarly edition of Matthew Flinders’s Circumnavigated: The Journal of HMS Investigator, 1801-1803. The notable historian, Kenneth Morgan, will edit this new volume. Publication might be expected in late 2014. If launched in that year, it will be the 200 anniversary of the original publication. The relevance of this journal to Australia and its history did not need emphasis amongst the members present. In general terms, it was agreed that discussion and planning should be commenced for an Australian centenary launch of this volume.

During the discussions, at least four objects or targets were mentioned when discussing a possible launch of Circumnavigated in Australia:

  • Promotion of the book itself to academia and groups interested in areas such as geography, history, exploration and cultural studies, as well as the general public.
  • Awareness, knowledge and education across Australia about early exploration and the importance and impact of Flinders’ circumnavigation in particular.
  • Promotion of the Hakluyt Society to a wider audience.
  • Increase membership and the possibility of meetings for members in Australia.
  • An Australian Members Section on the Hakluyt web site.

Following the Society’s Council meeting on June 20, President Barritt reported that the establishment of an Australian Members Section on the web site would present absolutely no problem and could be initiated by contact with the on-line editor, Ray Howgego (ray@howgego.co.uk). Martin has done this and Ray has said that he will be very happy to receive initial content and subsequent updates. Meanwhile, Michael pointed out that the Society is now registered on Facebook and Twitter and has a new member from a younger generation (Van Meersbergen) to manage communications between members using those routes.

All members are strongly encouraged to have a look at the Australian Section of the web site and the attractive presence the Society now has on both Face Book and Twitter.

Correspondence following the February meeting

On February 11, President Barritt forwarded an email to Australian members with a known address. In this correspondence, the email list was shared and Michael briefly summarised the main points discussed at the meeting earlier in the month. Specifically, he reinforced the idea of establishing a network of members who might keep in touch, share interests and promote knowledge about the Society.

During February and March a number of email containing ideas and suggestions about an Australian launch of Circumnavigated were exchanged between Martin and Michael. As well, Robert Cook took the initiative to become involved in these exchanges having raised at the Canberra meeting, the possibility that the Royal Society of Victoria could be interested in hosting future meetings of the Hakluyt Society in Australia.

Michael made contact with the publisher and editor and reported that the journal can be completed by late 2014. He also noted that both he and Kenneth Morgan might be able to visit Australia to participate in a November 2014 launch.

A number of venues around Australia were considered as a possibility to co-host a launch and an interim proposal was made to focus on a November 2014 launch at the National Library of Australia (NLA). This proposal is presently based on several criteria:

  • a range of Flinders’ material is held by the NLA as well as some unusual records of relevant correspondence and maps,
  • the NLA convenes regular national and international promotions, launches and exhibitions,
  • in 2011, the NLA hosted and jointly auspiced the 2011 Freycinet Map of 1811 Seminar with the Australian Hydrographic Society and the Embassy of France,
  • the NLA has been associated with the Hakluyt Society for many years and provides the services of Dr. Martin Woods as Hakluyt’s Australian representative,
  • the NLA is geographically central and has excellent accommodation, organizational and international network,
  • President Michael and Representative Martin believe the NLA is the right option for the Australian launch of Circumnavigated.

Kenneth Morgan’s connections with Australia

The first recorded circumnavigation of Australia was, of course, Matthew Flinders in the Investigator. It was Flinders who suggested the name “Australia” which was adopted in 1824. As we know, many places and events have been named after him such as Flinders Island and Flinders University. As members will know, there have been a number of books on Flinders and his circumnavigation. Amongst others, a recent popular edited selection in Australia was from Professor Tim Flannery in 2000.

Kenneth Morgan is a professor of history at Brunel University in Uxbridge, London. He specialises in history and social change in British colonies in North America, the Caribbean and Australia during the years 1650-1850. His publications include Maritime and Economic Histories, Slavery and the Slave Trade and Early Australian History. The latter, Australia: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press), is to be published this year. An academic presentation by Dr Morgan on labour relations and the apprenticeship system in the British West Indies in the 1830s can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=SD-eHxmlsH8.

Amongst many awards, Kenneth Morgan has recently received research grants from the National Archives of Australia, the National Library of Australia and the National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (UK) and is a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Maritime History. Dr. Morgan’s publications have had wide acclaim with one significant reviewer asserting “he has something new to say on all his chosen themes …. and has given shape and coherence to material that has expanded at an extraordinary rate over the past twenty years”. His annotated edition of Flinders’ circumnavigation journals is expected to be the ultimate in contemporary scholarly critique and criticism.

The proposal to launch the new edition of Circumnavigated in Australia along with the real possibility of Ken Morgan’s attendance and presentations is an opportunity not to be missed.

Starting a plan to launch ‘Circumnavigated’ in Australia in 2014

1. Martin Woods has commenced preliminary discussion with events management at NLA which have been positive. He reports that the events people would consider the Hakluyt edition of Circumnavigated to be an attractive item to promote through their networks and that they would be receptive to hosting a launch event at the NLA.

Martin has indicated that he will be pleased to facilitate such an event and act as the “on the ground person” for all communication and liaison with the NLA. However, like all Council Members of the Hakluyt Society, Martin’s position as Australian Representative is honorary and not part of his designated professional responsibilities at the NLA. In this context, Martin has limited resources and time to commit full responsibility for the planning, promotion and management of a launch event at the level the two volumes and the Society may warrant.

2. At the Council Meeting of the Hakluyt Society on June 20 last, President Michael Barritt briefed fully the Council Officers on the strategic aims behind an Australian centenary launch of Kenneth Morgan’s Hakluyt Society edition of the Flinders Journals. The Council supported an Australian launch and subsequently gave Michael approval to make a formal approach to the NLA Canberra.

However, the Council pointed out that this does represent quite a bold departure from precedent in that Society has not previously designated a specific volume for a specific year. Thus Michael and the Council had, for example, to recognise a number of risks and issues that would have to be managed if a 2014 launch timeline was to be met – even with two and a half years to run. Some of these risks included:

  • the knock-on effect on some of the other HS volumes in the pipeline,
  • Kenneth Morgan and his editor’s timelines in finalizing text and associated materials,
  • publisher (Ashgate) and printer requirements, commitments and schedules

Following further consultation with the Council, Ken Morgan, Ashgate, and Martin Woods, President Barritt will make a formal approach from the Hakluyt Society to the National Library of Australia regarding the proposed launch of Circumnavigated. At the present time, the second week in November has been put forward as an indicative date.

This Bulletin will be used to keep Australian members (and others) up-to-date with the outcome of these plans and all further arrangements as they are developed.

Support from Australian Members: sharing the load

In considering the proposed launch of Circumnavigated in Australia, it needs to be remembered that the Hakluyt Society is a non-profit making registered charity supported by an entirely voluntary and unpaid team of council members, officers and editors. While Martin is very pleased to facilitate basic details with the NLA and the management of a launch event, it will be necessary to share the load and responsibility amongst Australian members.

The annual subscription and subsequent receipt of scholarly volumes is one aspect of belonging to the Hakluyt Society. As members, all of us have the opportunity to advance and contribute to the Society’s aims by supporting, organising and participating in meetings, symposia and conferences. In this way, members can contribute to the Society’s aims and increased local knowledge and awareness of geographical exploration and cultural encounter.

In order to look at ways to share the load for a quality and influential launch, it is proposed that interest will be sought to form a working group of Australian Hakluyt volunteers to plan and support Martin in ways that optimize and promote the event.

Such a working group may wish to consider and plan to expand a basic program with a range of activities that are deemed appropriate and possible. Supplementary activities could include, for example, lectures, seminars and exhibits along with the preparation of information and promotional materials. The other important function will require setting some sort of a budget and looking for means for obtaining sponsorship or perhaps a partnership with another Australian history, geographic or academic organization with related interests.

To this end, it has been proposed that in the near future, a survey of Australian members be undertaken to initially solicit indications of interest and attendance, and to seek volunteers for a working group to support and assist with a launch and any associated events.

Further Communication

As readers will have discovered, this Bulletin has been (or will be) placed on the Australian Members Section of the Hakluyt web site and has been emailed to the address of all members on the list developed in Canberra at the February meeting.

As well as electronic communication, there was certainly an interest in February in having occasional get-togethers of members in Australia in various places at different times. The Bulletin can be used to share ideas and possibilities about this.

As plans emerge, we might expect to have the HS website editor include up-dates on Australian activities amongst other news and events. In addition, we may be able to use the Australian Members Section for communication.
In order to share the load and until final details about interaction with the HS web site have to be clarified Robert Cook is willing act as interim editor of this Bulletin and co-coordinator of web site material. For at least the next few months, members are able to use his email address to co-ordinate communication and make and receive comments and information.

Over many years, Robert has built up a considerable collection of Hakluyt publications and related materials. He joined the Society about fifteen years ago.

Robert’s email address is: arcana@netspace.net.au Over the next few months please feel free to use this address to share your comments, suggestions and concerns. However, please make Hakluyt the subject of all emails! In the future, it may be possible to communicate through the Hakluyt web site.

Best regards,

Robert Cook, July 11, 2012