Transforming the Local – Discussion Page

Transforming the Local calls on the community to take part as story collectors as well as story tellers in charting the social and economic revolution that has swept across this part of Sydney since the 1960s.

Transforming the Local was launched in 2007. It is an oral history project designed to explore the experience of gentrification, particularly responses to social and cultural changes, in the Leichhardt municipality since the 1960s. Funded through Leichhardt Council’s Local History Grants Scheme, it is a joint project between oral historian Paula Hamilton of the Australian Centre for Public History at UTS and Leichhardt Library’s Local History unit.

20 oral history interviews were undertaken between 2007 and 2009 and we invite you to access the sound files and interview transcripts in the ARCHIVE section of the above site.

We invite you to share your stories and make comments.

Oral history @ the library

Oral history is the recording of memories of people’s unique life experiences. Often the only way to find out about the past is to ask someone who knows about it. Through oral history the past comes alive.

THE COLLECTION

Since 1997 we have interviewing people to capture their memories of living and working in the area in earlier times. Interviews are conducted by volunteers, local history staff and oral historians that are funded through Leichhardt Council’s Local History Grants programme. At present 120 interviews are held in digital format and will be going online later this year.

WHAT AREA HAS BEEN COVERED BY THE INTERVIEWS?

The Oral History Collection covers all parts of the Leichhardt local government area, which comprises the suburbs of Annandale, Balmain, Birchgrove, Leichhardt, Lilyfield and Rozelle. Between 1968 and 2003 the suburbs of Glebe and Forest Lodge also came within the Leichhardt area, so the collection includes interviews relating to those suburbs undertaken between 1997 and mid-2003.

WHO HAS BEEN INTERVIEWED?

Interviews have mostly been with people who have had a long association with the area. Some of them grew up in the area and went to school here and tell about their memories of childhood and growing up. Others worked in local industries and remember their working lives, working conditions, etc. Some owned small businesses in the area. Many interviewees have useful and interesting comments to make about social conditions in the area during the Depression, about jobs and industries which have now disappeared, and about local businesses and corner shops which are no more.

WHY INTERVIEWS?

Hearing the voices of people who actually experienced the times they are describing makes history come alive in a unique and fascinating way. Their reminiscences greatly add to our understanding of the social history of the Leichhardt area, and in many instances, if these memories had not been recorded they would now be lost forever. People can often be much more interesting than documents, and they often have anecdotes to tell which will not be found in the formal records.

Oral history interviewees Molly Mc Sullea, Peter Flaherty and Howard Horwood

COLLECTION HIGHLIGHTS

The Fishermen of Iron Cove

A collection of 12 interviews undertaken by oral historian Annette Salt in 2006 with the Italian fishing community of Iron Cove

Rozelle Hospital Project

11 interviews undertaken by oral historian Roslyn Burge in 2008/9 with former workers of Rozelle Hospital and its parent institutions Callan Park Mental Asylum and Broughton Hall Psychiatric Clinic.

Transforming the Local

20 interviews by oral historian Paula Hamilton and community volunteers on social and cultural changes in the Balmain area since the 1960s. Interviewees included long-term residents and those who moved into the area in the1970s and 80s. More information on this project can be found at www.transformingthelocal.net.au

Leichhardt’s Environment

10 interviews undertaken by the library’s local history staff and community volunteers on environmental change. Interviewees included bushcare and community garden volunteers, local environmental activists and Leichhardt Council staff such as planners and engineers.

With My Heart On My Sleeve – the Weroona Life Stories Project

11 interviews with residents of Weroona Nusing Home, Lilyfield.

Saving 2.6

Our current project exploring the experiences of local residents who fought to save Ballast Point -a 2.6ha headland in Birchgrove- for community open space.

For more information on our oral history collection and projects contact us at localhistory@lmc.nsw.gov.au or telephone 02 9367 9266