Commissioned histories

Living Histories – Professional Historians

  • Sixpence for a Piece of Timber: a history of Bowen & Pomeroy 1894-2019 (updated 2022)
    Karen Twigg and Sonia Jennings
    The history was written to mark the centenary of Bowen & Pomeroy in 1994. The firm, which began as a small North Melbourne timber yard, expanded to many Melbourne branches, offering timber, hardware and building supplies to the builder and home handyperson. While exploring the influence of the Pomeroy and Bowen families, the history also highlights the contributions of the firm’s employees, drawing liberally on photographs and oral history to create a richly textured picture of working life. Updated in 2022, the history of Bowens (as it is now known) since 1995 has reflected the many ups and downs in the Australian building industry. While there has been generational change and significant structural change in its administration and management, Bowens remains a family business in every sense.


  • Canterbury: A History (2019)
    Don Gibb with Jill Barnard
    Canterbury: A History covers the history of the suburb of Canterbury, Victoria from its Aboriginal history as part of the country of the Wurundjeri people to its completed development as a middle-class suburb by the late 1950s. The book had been a labour of love by esteemed historian, Don Gibb, for many years. Don’s sudden death in late 2017 left the manuscript uncompleted. The Canterbury History Group and the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, together with Don’s family, were determined to see Don’s book completed and published. Jill Barnard contributed the final two chapters dealing with the inter war and post-World War II decades.



  • Stronger Together: A history of Barwon Child, Youth & Family 1855-2018 (2018)
    Jill Barnard
    Barwon Child, Youth & Family was launched in July 2015 as a result of a merger between Glastonbury Community Services, Barwon Youth and Time for Youth. The history of the three merged agencies is told in Stronger Together. Jill Barnard from Living Histories has crafted an inspiring story of change and transformation and ongoing efforts to improve the lives of our clients and build a community that can realise the benefits of being ‘Stronger Together.


  • ACD historyIt Started from Scratch: the first fifty years of the Australasian College of Dermatologists (2017)
    Jill Barnard and Sonia Jennings
    In the 1960s Australian dermatologists set out, with lofty ambitions, to establish their own specialist medical college. The founding members of the Australasian College of Dermatologists aimed that the College – the first of its type in the world – would provide first-class dermatology training in Australia and New Zealand and attract doctors of the highest calibre to the specialty. Their vision extended to increasing understanding in medical, academic, government and public circles of the important role that skin plays in health and wellbeing. This history traces the successes and the challenges faced along the way.


  • In a ClA class of their own smlass of Their Own: Melbourne Business School 1955-2015 (2015)
    Mary Sheehan
    In 1955, the dust of war had settled, and times were changing. Melbourne’s business leaders knew they needed talented managers to take advantage of emerging global opportunities; so they started a summer school for executives. Ten years later, Australia’s first MBAs were graduating from the Melbourne Business School, and Australia’s first female MBAs were in their final year. In a Class of Their Own tells the story of 60 years of innovation, town and gown co-operation and a highly motivated community of men and women who sought and achieved excellence in business.


  • Nursingnursing-mums-history-australian-breastfeeding-association-1310 Mums: a history of the Australian Breastfeeding Association 1964-2014 (2014)
    Jill Barnard and Karen Twigg
    The story begins in 1964 when six Melbourne mothers began a quiet revolution. Frustrated at the invisibility of breastfeeding advice in a society where artificial feeding of infants was increasingly accepted as the norm, they formed an association to assist mothers like themselves to breastfeed. Nursing Mums tells the story of how a grass-roots association grew to national proportions as the Nursing Mothers’ Association of Australia (now known as the Australian Breastfeeding Association).     Sydney Morning Herald report on ABA history


  • A FederaFOP cover smltion of Pilots: the story of an Australian Air Pilots’ Union (2010)
    Mary Sheehan and Sonia Jennings
    Peppered with strong characters and bitter feuds, A Federation of Pilots draws on primary sources from the federation’s archives and uses the voices of its members to bring to life the story of an organisation finding its way within Australia’s industrial relations, political and bureaucratic structures. Described on occasion as the most powerful union in Australia, the federation fought since its beginnings to build and maintain the professional status of its members and to achieve recognition of a pilot’s unique skills.


  • BoroonBoroondara Yesterdays smldara’s Yesterdays (2010)
    Jill Barnard
    A history resource kit for middle years students in the City of Boroondara. The book aims to assist students discover the history of their city. It provides a practical guide to researching, a time line and geographical sources. In addition the book includes sections on: People of Boroondara, Working in Boroondara and Living in Boroondara.



  • From Humble BeHumble Beginnings smlginnings: The Story of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart in Victoria, 1890-2009 (2009)
    Jill Barnard
    This is the story of the Sisters of St Joseph in Victoria. While they shared the Josephite ethos with Sisters in many parts of Australia and New Zealand, the Victorian chapter of the Josephite story is shaped by historical, social and educational trends unique to this state. The history explores the Josephite spirit as it was expressed in Victoria and, in personalising the experience of the Sisters in Victoria, sheds light on a group of women who had a significant impact on the lives of so many.


  • Jetties and PiersJetties and Piers: A background history of the Maritime Infrastructure in Victoria (2008)
    Jill Barnard
    While Victoria’s maritime heritage is typically associated with shipwrecks, our coastline is also rich in infrastructure that has made a significant contribution to the State’s economic and social development. The study traces the development of our maritime infrastructure across the State. It unlocks the stories associated with the physical fabric to provide readers with a greater understanding of the breadth of Victoria’s maritime inheritance. Access here: Part1, Part2 (1-3), Part2 (4-5), Part2 (6-end)


  • Clubhouse cover smlClubhouse: A Celebration of Local Sport in Boroondara (2006)
    Sonia Jennings and Mary Sheehan
    This history, written to coincide with and celebrate the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in March 2006, looks at sport at a local level. It chronicles the development of sport in the Boroondara community and positions it within the context of Australian social history. The history gives a representation of the diversity of sport in Boroondara, follows trends over time, and gives stories from a wide variety of sporting lives.



  • A Profession’s PaStV Nursing smlthway: Nursing at St Vincent’s since 1893 (2005)
    Mary Sheehan with Sonia Jennings
    Nursing has been transformed in its practice, training and as a career in the years since Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Hospital opened in 1893.  This history traces a remarkable movement in which nurses have progressed from being menial workers and are today well-paid clinicians with a wide range of skills and a vital role to play in modern health-care.  Against a background of great changes in medicine, technology, social attitudes, women’s occupations and religious practices, this is the story of ordinary nurses who have devoted themselves to their work, and who recall the everyday struggles and joys that all nurses will find familiar.


  • HHolding on to Hope smlolding on to Hope: A History of the Founding Agencies of MacKillop Family Services 1854-1997 (2004)
    Jill Barnard and Karen Twigg
    Drawing on rich primary sources, case records and oral histories, Holding on to Hope tells the story of children separated from their families, of women forced to seek refuge from the stigma of unmarried motherhood, and of religious and lay staff labouring to make a difference under demanding conditions.  it also offers insight into the broader social and economic forces that influenced Catholic welfare, exploring, for instance, the sectarianism that divided the welfare field, changing notions of ‘appropriate’ care and developments in government welfare policy.  In doing so, it makes an important contribution to a neglected subject in Australian History.


  • WelcomeStnPier and Farewell: The Story of Station Pier (2004)
    Jill Barnard with Sonia Jennings
    Published to commemorate 150 years since the opening of Railway Pier on the site of the current Station Pier, Welcome and Farewell weaves in the human stories connected with the Pier.  It is a place where countless migrants arrived in Australia, and from which servicemen and women departed for distant wars.  It has played its part in many significant milestones in Victoria’s history.  Welcome and Farewell reveals the emotional ties that many Australians feel for this significant site.  The book is superbly illustrated.


  • Telling LTelling Lives cover smlives: Locating and Mapping the Cultural Heritage of Boroondara (2002)
    Sonia Jennings with Jill Barnard
    Commissioned by the City of Boroondara Library Service, the history was written to celebrate the centenary of Australian Federation.  The year 1901 marked a turning point in the way the inhabitants of Australia looked at themselves politically, socially and culturally.  A burgeoning of ideas in painting, music, literature and other creative activities occurred in response to a wish to express a distinctly national identity.  This history reviews the cultural achievements of many of Boroondara’s people from the 1880s to the 1920s.



  • Faint Faint Traces smallTraces: Chinese in Hawthorn Before the Second World War (2002)
    Mary Sheehan and Diane Nicholas
    This history celebrates the achievements of the Chinese in Hawthorn and highlights the diversity which has always been a feature of the suburb of Hawthorn.  The history is primarily one of the development of market gardens in the Hawthorn area and of small business, particularly laundries.



  • Carltocarltonhistn: A History (2004)
    edited by Peter Yule
    Mary Sheehan and Sonia Jennings were among the 20 contributors to this history that offers unique insights into one of Melbourne’s oldest suburbs.  The contributors reveal how, since its initial subdivision in the early 1850s, Carlton has been home to Melbourne’s most diverse ethnic and social heritage: from early bourgeoisie who built the grand terrace houses of south Carlton, to successive waves of immigrants who have enlivened the community. Both residents of Carlton, Mary contributed a series of oral history vignettes and Sonia contributed a history of sporting clubs.


  • Encyclopedmelbencycia of Melbourne (2005)
    edited by Andrew Brown-May and Shurlee Swain
    All Living Histories partners contributed material to the Encyclopedia, with Jill Barnard being a major contributor, researching and writing many entries on municipalities. It is an A to Z reference work covering the city’s history from pre-European settlement up to the present day.  Alphabetical entries range from short factual summaries about places, institutions and events, through to extended survey articles on key topics such as Architecture, Aboriginal Melbourne, Economy, Foundation and Early Settlement, Law and Order, Literature, Science, Sport, Suburbia, Theatre and Transport.

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