Researching frontier violence in the archives

Dr Jonathan Richards, 2023 Archives and libraries, the places which safely store historical documents and records, are great sources of historical information about people, places and events. Different archives and libraries store different kinds of files and records, and the Queensland State Archives (QSA) at Runcorn, in Brisbane, is the main storage facility for official […]

The Spanish Swindle

A desperate man from Madrid, Enrique de Fonseca, wrote begging for help. Enrique is sick, imprisoned for treason and worried about his beautiful, teenage daughter alone in the world. Despite all his misfortune, Enrique has wealth secured in England but he needs help recovering his fortune. One of Enrique’s letters reached the licensee of the […]

Australia’s worst river disaster – the Pearl Ferry incident

The summer of 1896 had seen extensive flooding along the Brisbane River, which had seriously weakened the Victoria Bridge. Piles had been broken, the structure began to sag and all traffic across the bridge was stopped until the extent of the damage could be ascertained. In February three ferries, Alice, Young and Pearl were brought […]

Queensland Frontier Wars

An essay by historian Dr Jonathan Richards on frontier violence in Queensland, as documented in the records at Queensland State Archives. Histories of violence Our nation’s longest war occurred during Australia’s colonial and post-colonial periods. State-sanctioned racially-based violence – an issue that many Australians are either ignorant of, or deny occurred – was often carried […]

Honouring Loris Williams

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this blog post contains images and names of people who have died. Committed, strong and dignified – just a few words used to describe Loris Williams, a passionate advocate for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to use archives as a means of […]

Postcards laid out

Postcard confessions: Edward Wenzel’s Murder

James Hampson and Norman Osborne walked into the Murgon Police Station, about 100 kilometres west of Gympie, at about 8.40pm on Wednesday 6 June 1917. Hampson said that he had shot Edward William Wenzel. He did not know if Wenzel had survived. Hampson and his wife, Mary, ran a small shop in Murgon with their […]

Ludwig Leichhardt’s final expedition

German explorer Ludwig Leichhardt and his companions headed west from the Darling Downs in 1848. They were never seen again and the disappearance of their expedition remains one of the great unsolved mysteries of Australian exploration. Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Leichhardt was born in Prussia in October 1813 and became fascinated with exploration at an early […]

Black Friday: Australia’s first ever general strike

Before the 1912 strike, labourers worked a 12-hour day with only 20 per cent of workers earning the minimum wage and women earning as little as nine to fifteen shillings a week (approximately $55–$100 per week now). Despite union membership trebling from 1907 to 1911, there were few concessions for workers. This changed when workers […]

Shear power: Shearer’s strike of 1891

The 1891 shearers’ strike is one of Australia’s earliest and most important industrial disputes. The quarrel was primarily between unionised and non-unionised wool workers, and sabotage and violence issued from both sides. The strike is seen as one of the factors that led to the formation of the Australian Labor Party. Throughout the 1870s and […]

Collections, carnivals and caskets: Fundraising for the First World War

When the First World War broke out in August 1914, Queenslanders quickly rallied to support the troops overseas and their families at home. Support for the war effort came from all quarters: community associations, private organisations, government, businesses and concerned citizens. Events such as benefit nights and theatrical fundraisers not only lifted the spirits of […]