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Cranking the parish pump: Recent local histories of Western Australia

Bolton, G.C. (1982) Cranking the parish pump: Recent local histories of Western Australia. Studies in Western Australian History (5). pp. 86-91.

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When Rudyard Kipling wrote these lines he was not thinking of the construction of local histories, but the principle is the same judging by the present batch under review. In the outpouring of Western Australian regional and local histories stimulated by the 150th anniversary celebrations of 1979 we can find every known method of constructing tribal lays. The present sample offers a wide range with plenty of scope for comparison and contrast. All are concerned with largely agricultural districts in the Great Southern and the South-West. Each of these districts began its great leap forward with the coming of the railways and the boom of the 1890s, and each experienced trouble during the 1930s depression. None makes dull reading, and each provides some useful insights for the general history as well as introducing some interesting local characters. Collectively they suggest that local historians are growing less mealy-mouthed than they used to be; it is now permissible to refer to alcoholism, half-castes, and the spirited feuds which enliven so many country towns. But the standard of professionalism among these works varies considerably.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: University of Western Australia. Centre for Western Australian History
Copyright: 1982 Dept. of History, University of Western Australia
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Notes: Bosses, Workers and Unemployed
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