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UWA Historical Society

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All donations are tax deductible.

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New and renewing members are always welcome.

Performance of Oedipus Rex, Sunken Gardens, UWA in 1948

Oedipus Rex production – Sunken Garden 1948 (6050P courtesy of UWA Archives)

You are invited to celebrate our University history

  • Were you a student at UWA?
  • Did you teach or work on campus?
  • Do you love wandering through the grounds or watching Festival films under the stars?
  • Do you have an interest in the history of UWA?

If you can answer yes to any of the above you are invited to join in the activities of the UWA Historical Society. You are welcome to attend society events, add to discussion or simply exchange memories. If you would like to share in the history of the University, email Ron Bodycoat AM or telephone 0418 917 757 for further information.

Oral History Collection

The UWA Historical Society’s Oral History Collection started as a project with four oral histories funded from Society resources, and is has been expanded into an ongoing program. Support has been received from every Faculty on campus, the Guild, Convocation and through private donations (including through UWATCH). This initiative represents a re-activation of a 1980s program which, having been inactive for 20 years, is making up for two decades of lost opportunities to record the stories of UWA people during an era of great change. Our web portal now contains over 150 voices from UWA’s first century, hosted online by the UWA Faculty of Arts, State Library of WA, and National Library of Australia.

2013 marked 100 years of personalities and places at UWA

The University was established by act of Parliament in 1911 and lectures began in the Irwin Street buildings in Perth in 1913 with 184 students enrolled in Arts, Science and Engineering. The city campus was fondly referred to as Tin Pot Alley. A number of sites were considered for the permanent University including central Perth, West Perth and Shenton Park. The Crawley site was at first considered too marshy, prone to flooding and might give the students rheumatism! Nevertheless in 1914 the lectures for Mining and Engineering were transferred from the city to Crawley homestead (later known as Shenton House) on Matilda Bay and upon completion of the Hackett memorial buildings in 1932, the entire University relocated to Crawley. UWA was the first free university in the British Commonwealth of Nations. One hundred years have elapsed in the history of the campus and there are now 20,000 students and 4,000 staff located at numerous sites in the metropolitan and regional areas of WA. In March 2013, UWAHS was joined by 100 UWA graduates for the Convocation centenary photo shoot which won the major prize in UWA’s Centum Photo Competition.

Joan Pope and Wendy Birman, with assistance from Ron Bodycoat AM, have published Personalities and Places on the Crawley Campus, a booklet funded through a University Centenary Grant which will provide vignettes for each personality after which a place on the Crawley Campus has been named. It will also include a fold-out map so that you can locate each named place.

Becoming a member

The benefits of membership are

  • associating with those who have an interest in the history of the University
  • sharing information and memories of staff and student life on campus
  • engaging in research and archival projects in association with the Centre for WA History and UWA archives
  • participating in academic and social events of an historical nature
If you are interested in becoming an active member of the UWA Historical Society, email Ron Bodycoat AM or telephone 0418 917 757 for further information.

Our objectives

  • encourage appreciation of University history amongst staff, students, graduates and the community
  • create a fellowship of persons interested in the history of the campus
  • promote University projects of an historical nature
  • contribute to the development of the University's historical record
  • collect and catalogue historical University artefacts
  • encourage historical displays of University material
  • improve access to University historical resources

UWAHS committee members 2015

  • Ron Bodycoat AM (President)
  • Susan Marie (Vice-President)
  • Fran Pesich (Treasurer)
  • Christine Shervington
  • Nicholas Hasluck AM
  • William Chi
  • Jackie Scurlock
  • Malcolm Lane
  • Maria Carvalho (University Archivist)
  • James Devenish (ex officio)
  • Warren Kerr AM (Warden of Convocation)

If you’re interested in becoming an active member of the UWA Historical Society, email Ron Bodycoat AM or telephone 0418 917 757 for further information.