Woman holding book, HerStory, standing park with Museum of Riverina and Wagga Civic Centre in background

Arts & Culture

From museum walls to printed pages: HerStory features in a new book

Published: 22 Oct 2020 12:14pm

The extraordinary stories of the women, past and present, who’ve helped shape Wagga Wagga into the city it is today, feature in a book released this month by the Museum of the Riverina.

Compiled by Museum Curator Michelle Maddison, HerStory: A celebration of Wagga’s women from early settlement to today is based on the stories gathered for an exhibition of the same name, held in 2019.

Ms Maddison said HerStory put the spotlight on the stories of the many women who contributed to the development of Wagga over the past 150 years.

“In my research I came across some amazing women, such as Ethel Forrest, Mabel Chambers, Ma Carmody, and Vivienne Newson, just to name a few.”

There are women featured in this publication who were running vineyards or farming properties by themselves or running businesses when their husbands had died or left them.

Some have made considerable public contributions in the fields of medicine, or in the arts and public service, while others served during wartime.

Teachers, performers, politicians and adventurers are featured in this book such Wendy Kelsall, who was flying a Tiger Moth when only a teenager.

She was the first woman in Wagga to get a pilot’s licence and she did it after just 8hrs 15mins dual instruction which created a Riverina record.

Photo of page from HerStory book featuring Wendy Kelsall

And then there are the women making a difference to the Wagga Wagga of today, like Janine Blackwell, Faye McMillan, Simone Joliffe, Alicia Quirk, Simone Eyles and Zoe Lamont.

While there are numerous accounts of the contributions made by women over the years, very few have been formally documented in the pages of history.

This publication seeks to address this gap in the public history record.

“It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to bring these stories to a new audience, thanks to the support of Michelle and Vincent Fernon, who covered the printing costs for the book.” said Ms Maddison.

You can purchase copies of HerStory: A celebration of Wagga’s women from early settlement to today at the Museum of the Riverina’ Historic Council Chambers site, for $20.

For more details, visit the Museum of the Riverina website or call 6926 9655.