Beginnings—Some reflections on the ANU Historical Journal, 1964–70

Reviving a long-dead academic journal is a bold project which I applaud. Fifty-four years since my partner (and later wife) Anne Kingston, our friend Alastair Davidson and I edited the first issue of the ANU Historical Journal (1964–87), it will have another life.1Anne also edited the second issue in 1965 with Mother Pauline Kneipp, Zenta Liepa and Robert Moss. Like many a phoenix publication, this one differs from its predecessor—as it must after all this time. Even so, the second series still shares some of the same objectives that inspired us in 1964: encouraging the research of younger historians as well as publishing their work alongside established scholars.

The first series of the ANU Historical Journal (ANUHJ) emerged out of the confident culture of Manning Clark’s History Department at The Australian National University (ANU). Manning had famously built a department out of talented teachers and historians that spanned the political and historical spectrums, and there was a strong sense among many students that this was a great place to study history. The first history honours graduates of ANU completed courses in 1961 (Bob Reece, jointly with English) and 1962 (Alastair Davidson and Keith Campbell). Many more would follow.2See List of Theses Held in the Department of History Library (only MA (Qual), BA (Hons) and Litt B), The Faculty of Arts [ANU], January 1993; Michael McKernan and Diane Collins, Honours theses in history, compiled for the Australian Historical Association, 1979. The department grew quickly from only three staff in 1949–50—Lecturer Don Baker, a superb teacher and meticulous scholar, Laurie Gardiner, a fine Lecturer in British History and later a Reader in the Melbourne History Department, and charismatic foundation Professor Manning Clark—to a full-time academic teaching staff of 11 in 1965, and 21 by the mid-1970s.3For recollections of Manning Clark as teacher at Melbourne University, Canberra University College and The Australian National University (ANU), see Glen Tomasetti, ed., Manning Clark by Some of his Students (Manning Clark House, 2002).

It was Manning who provided my initial inspiration to continue studying history after high school when, in 1957, he tutored me in British history (law) with Laurie Gardiner as lecturer. Sadly, I did not study any more history until 1963 when I was completing my Arts/Law course. Manning and Don Baker also influenced Anne in her early years at ANU.

Another impetus for me to study history again came out of a group of early full-time history honours students, and some others, whom I first met in the old Childers Street students’ common room, and later saw frequently when some of us were in Bruce Hall in 1961. Although I wasn’t studying history that year, I felt I was an honorary member of a group of history and literature students who met together—often in various peoples’ rooms—and argued passionately about history, books, politics (especially Marx and revolution), sex, religion and what role we might play in changing the world. Bob Reece, Alastair Davidson, Keith Campbell, Malcolm Harrison, Bob Smith, George Martin and Anne Kingston were key members of this group, along with visiting lecturers from the History Department like Don Baker and Tim Suttor. Most of those friendships lasted a lifetime. They also contributed strongly to my decision to study history again, and to the collaboration with Anne and Alastair on the Journal.

Today, very few archival records survive relating to the ANUHJ and the ANU Historical Society. But while I have forgotten many of the day-to-day details of these two initiatives, the more immediate origins of the Journal are still clear in my memory.

For me and Anne, 1963 was a new academic beginning. We were both part-time students with demanding jobs (I was in ANU administration, and Anne was a Public Service Board cadet). I had finished the law part of my course—most of which I had not enjoyed—and I hoped to do as much history as I could. Manning had indicated that if I did well in American history, I could undertake the MA Qualifying course, very similar to the honours year. Anne had been a talented high school student in Burnie, Tasmania (overall second in the state behind future academic Dennis Altman), but had not done well in her first years of university study. As Ken Inglis observed after her death in early 1968: ‘Until [1963, Anne] had not discovered herself as a student’.4KS Inglis, ‘Anne Fraser’, ANU Historical Journal, no. 5 (1968), 6. Starting then, our academic results and passion for history (which included the founding of the ANUHJ) took an upward trajectory, largely due to Ken’s inspiring teaching.

Figure 1: Historians at play in 1967 (left to right: Lucy Kinloch, Jan Gammage, Ron Fraser, Anne Fraser, John Ritchie and Bill Gammage). This photograph was taken at Ron and Anne’s rental house in Carruthers Street, Deakin. Collection: Private papers of Ron Fraser.

Figure 2: Historians at play in 1967 (seated: John Ritchie; standing, left to right: Jan Gammage, Hector Kinloch, Ron Fraser, Anne Fraser and Bill Gammage). This photograph was taken at Ron and Anne’s rental house in Carruthers Street, Deakin. Collection: Private papers of Ron Fraser.

Returning from study leave in America, following the tragic death of his first wife Judy in a car accident, Ken had been offered a job by Manning. It was Ken’s first year of teaching American history and, like many other students, Anne and I felt that we were engaged with him in an exciting journey of discovery.5See the chapter on Ken Inglis by Di Langmore in the forthcoming collection of papers from ‘Ken Inglis in History: A Laconic Colloquium’. Ken taught a predominantly nineteenth-century survey course and an honours component in American religious history. It was an intensely stimulating experience. In addition to his teaching, Ken was, like Manning, a great encourager, and the establishment of the ANU Historical Society and the Journal were in large part due to his guidance, supported too by Manning (who was in America when the Journal first appeared) and other teaching staff.

Ken had suggested that Anne submit her essay on James Baldwin and the black church—which he later described after Anne’s death as ‘the best work done by anybody in that class’ of 1963—to the Melbourne Historical Journal (MHJ). A student-run journal coordinated by the Melbourne University Historical Society, the MHJ was about to publish its fourth issue in 1964, containing, among other articles, a tribute by Ken to the late Kathleen Fitzpatrick. In the same issue, Bob Connell and the editorial board published an abridged version of Anne’s essay.6A Kingston, ‘Search for Identity: The Role of the Negro Church’, Melbourne Historical Journal, no. 4 (1964), 45–51. Sadly, the editors omitted Anne’s interesting discussion of James Baldwin’s religious experience based on his essays and other writings.

This experience led Anne, with the support of Ken and a number of other students and staff, to promote the establishment of an ANU Historical Society in 1964, which would also coordinate the publication of a student-run journal. The Journal was intended to give ‘recent graduates and undergraduates an opportunity to make their work public’ alongside ‘some work by well-known scholars’, as well as encourage historical research by young historians.7ANU Historical Journal flyer: found in National Library of Australia holding of ANU Historical Journal, no. 4 (1967). The debt the ANUHJ owed to the MHJ can be seen especially clearly in the articulation of the relationship between the Society and the Journal editors—both groups together determining general policy while the editors alone were responsible for the content of the Journal (these details were omitted from number 4 onwards).

I know that in Anne’s far too short life (she was not quite 26 when she died of leukaemia), working with students and staff to establish and publish the first two issues of the ANUHJ was one of her happiest experiences. Her vision and hard work were crucial to those early issues, and I like to think that her example helped sustain the Journal in its later years. The second issue in 1965 was a particular joy for Anne, as the Irish Ambassador Eoin MacWhite, himself a historian, became a strong supporter, launching the issue at the Irish Embassy (Figure 3). MacWhite’s lecture to the ANU Historical Society in September 1965, entitled ‘Ireland in Russian Eyes under the Tsars’, featured as the first article.

Figure 3: Anne Kingston and Irish Ambassador Dr Eoin MacWhite at the launch of the second issue of the ANUHJ in 1965. Source: The Canberra Times, 8 December 1965, 8.

As Ken wrote in his tribute to Anne in the ANUHJ in 1968—the issue commemorated Anne’s life and involvement with the Journal—her initiative was crucial to its launch in 1964. ‘[H]ad it not been for her confidence and perseverance it might not have survived its initial difficulties’, observed Ken.8KS Inglis, ‘Anne Fraser’, ANU Historical Journal, no. 5 (1968), 5–6; Manning Clark, ‘Anne Fraser’, ANU Historical Journal, no. 5 (1968), 6. I think Anne’s desire to establish the Journal was her way of showing gratitude for the happiness and fulfilment she experienced studying history and from the friendship of those who taught it. It was a happiness we shared together, and which I have never forgotten.

In her work as editor, and in her (and my) studies with Ken, and later Manning, Don Baker, Eric Fry, Barbara Penny, Bruce Kent, Daphne Gollan and others for the MA Qualifying course, Anne discovered a love for historical research. She became determined to undertake research in American history, initially in the American Collection of the National Library of Australia. Working with the guidance of her excellent supervisor Hector Kinloch, who had replaced Ken as the resident Americanist, she began work on an MA thesis on the topic of slavery in British colonial New York.9See the online Australian Dictionary of Biography for Lucy Kinloch’s 2017 entry on Hector Kinloch. It was a project that, as Ken later wrote, allowed her to explore ‘the operations of justice and injustice, hatred and compassion’.10KS Inglis, ‘Anne Fraser’, ANU Historical Journal, no. 5 (1968), 6. For a very preliminary view of her thesis topic, see Anne’s edited lecture, ‘The Negro in Colonial New York, 1664–1776’, ANU Historical Journal, no. 5 (1968), 7–15. We all believed that she would make a significant contribution to the field and become a fine historian. It was not to be.

In a number of ways, the first issue of the ANUHJ had wide support within the then ANU community. While it is not entirely clear how the Journal was financed each year, the first issue contains a list of ‘private donors’ who had generously supported the Journal. These included the Vice-Chancellor Sir Leonard Huxley, Registrar/Secretary Ross Hohnen, Registrar of the Institute of Advanced Studies David Hodgkin, University Librarian JJ Graneek and a number of ANU academics and others, as well as the two leading Canberra bookshops: Cheshire’s and Verity Hewitt’s. If there were individual donations in later years, they went undocumented. One of the mementoes that survives the 1960s is an old cigar box that we made into a moneybox to elicit donations (Figure 4).

Figure 4: ‘Buddy can you spare a dime for the ANU Historical Society?’ Cigar moneybox made by the ANU Historical Society (probably Anne Kingston) in 1964–65. Collection: Private collection of Ron Fraser, currently on loan to the ANU School of History.

Beyond donations, the university did provide some financial support to the Journal. In a memorandum dated May 1968, Colin Plowman, Academic Registrar and a strong supporter of student ventures, endorsed a suggestion from the Vice-Chancellor that the university might grant $120 towards the cost of the Journal (it seems safe to assume it was granted).

Table 1: Identified institutional grants to the ANU Historical Journal, 1964–70.

Source: Compiled by author from private papers and university records. *The SRC was the elected Students’ Representative Council.

In addition to these funds, the SRC guaranteed a bank overdraft of $200 for the Society in 1967, but it is unknown whether this was ever used. Plowman’s memorandum also notes that the increased cost of production was a result of both general cost increases and ‘the adoption of an improved format for Numbers 3 and 4’—a format the Journal retained for a number of years. Sales of the ANUHJ would have helped (for example, in 1967, 570 copies of number 4 were for sale at 80 cents for students and $1 for others), but might not have reduced the deficit substantially. However, the editors eventually included paid advertising from academic publishers, which must have helped alleviate their financial position. Whatever the financial vicissitudes, the ANUHJ stayed afloat for another 18 years.

There were of course other student publications at ANU in the 1960s, but only one other had a similar ‘academic’ character: the Law Faculty’s Federal Law Review, which coincidentally also began in 1964. While it had a student editor and other student officers and advisers, the majority of the articles in the first edition were by distinguished lawyers, apart from five substantial case notes by students or recent students. It also clearly had greater financial backing.11In later years, this successful academic journal has tended to be edited by members of the College of Law, with assistance from an Editorial Board of students and an Editorial Committee of academics.

Looking back at the contributions to the ANUHJ up to 1970, the last issue I read at the time (number 7), it seems to me that it succeeded in its first aim to provide a place for publication by aspiring historians and writers, many of whom went on to successful careers in history, politics and other fields, and in doing so saved good work from invisibility. In the period between 1964 and 1970, there were some 26 students (graduate and undergraduate) who wrote pieces but who were not ever involved in editorial work, making a total of 51 students known to have been actively involved with the Journal.

In those early years, a number of people seized the opportunities offered by the Journal, whether as authors or in an editorial capacity, or both.12For a list of editors and editorial committee members 1964–70, see Index. Many of them became friends or at least much admired fellow students of mine and Anne’s. One of the most rewarding friendships for us both was with Mother Pauline Kneipp, OSU, who worked closely with Anne on the second issue of the Journal.13Mother Pauline’s Sydney University PhD thesis was on Australian and American Catholic reactions to European diplomatic crises 1935–39 (1974), and she later published a history of the Ursuline Order in Australia (1982). She also lectured at the University of New England from 1975 to 1985. Another of the editors of that issue, Zenta Liepa, remained a good friend of ours, although we frequently argued good-naturedly about politics (her political views were shaped by her experience as a refugee from—I think—Latvia). Both have now sadly died. The last of the 1965 editors was Robert Moss, who gained a first in history in 1967, and later wrote an MA thesis on Kwame Nkrumah, becoming a notable author and journalist on the right of the political spectrum in England.

Other history contemporaries not connected with the Journal, at least at that time, included Jill Waterhouse, who gained a first in history in 1966 and went on to study and lecture at Cambridge, later returning to Canberra and ANU. Margaret George was also memorable. In her too-short life—she died of diabetes-related heart disease in 1974—she was to make a real contribution to knowledge with her PhD thesis (1974), and later book, Australia and the Indonesian Revolution (1980). Another impressive contemporary was Maya Sapiets (later Tucker), who gained a PhD on women’s magazines 1880–1914 and lectured at Melbourne University. Bill and Jan Gammage were important friends, as well as the late John Ritchie, then supervised by Manning. Another good friend was David Solomon, political journalist, lawyer and author, and John Iremonger, later a leading publisher who was a ball of energy for the Journal and many other projects.

As hoped by the first and subsequent editors, a number of established academics generously contributed to the Journal in its first seven years. These pieces, largely from ANU-affiliated historians, were welcome recognition of the Journal’s effort to make a serious contribution to scholarship—‘Mick’ Williams, Tim Suttor, Bill Mandle, AM Healy and FB (‘Barry’) Smith all contributed valuable pieces in this period. One notable piece was Ken Inglis’s ‘Return to Gallipoli’ in number 3, published shortly after he had become Professor of History at the University of Papua and New Guinea.14Reprinted in John Lack, ed., ANZAC Remembered: Selected Writings of K. S. Inglis (Parkville: History Department, University of Melbourne, 1998).

The ANU Historical Society and its Journal continued to play a lively role in the life of the university for some time. In 1970, Woroni considered the Society ‘one of the largest and most vigorous societies on campus’. Alongside the publication of the Journal, it was well known for its staff and student functions—including an entertaining annual hockey match during Orientation Week—and regular film screenings, advertised in The Canberra Times with admission of 25 cents—which included Lawrence of Arabia, Major Dundee and The Wild One.15Woroni, 25 February 1970, 13.

My and Anne’s experience of the Journal and the History Department in 1963–67 helped inform my own attitude to teaching history at the University of New England (UNE) and Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education (DDIAE) in the 1970s and early 1980s, although I am sorry to say we did not set up a student history journal.16Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education (DDIAE) became the University of Southern Queensland (USQ). I expect that ANU history students and staff will make the new journal even more vibrant than the old.

Recommended citation: Ron Fraser, ‘Beginnings—Some reflections on the ANU Historical Journal, 1964–70’, ANU Historical Journal II, no. 1 (2019): 3-14. Published by ANU Press.