Local historical societies – Richmond River Historical Society

Today I visited one of my local historical societies, the Richmond River Historical Society in Lismore in Northern NSW. I have only been there once before and was amazed then at the records and information they had, and I was amazed again today.

I wasn’t quite as excited this time to visit though as I was the last time. Today I was doing some research for a Uni assignment. It is for a great unit called Local and Community Histories and the assignment requires you to locate and critique 4 primary sources and 2 secondary sources that you may use if you were writing a history on a local area.

I decided to try to find sources on the early settlement of the town I live in, Bangalow. So I set off for Lismore today hoping to find some of the following primary sources:

  • photographs
  • newspaper articles
  • diaries or letters by pioneer settlers
  • old maps, either Parish or others

I left feeling very happy because with the help of the wonderful volunteers I was able to find:

  • a pre-1910 photo of the main street of Bangalow on a postcard
  • numerous newspaper articles from local papers, The Northern Star and Bangalow Herald, as well as city papers such as the Brisbane Courier
  • a cloth map of the Parish of Byron that includes the early pioneers, Thomas Robinson and Robert Campbell
  • various memoirs by the children of the early pioneers

Main Street of Bangalow circa 1910

I still have to visit the Historical Society here in Bangalow. I am particularly interested to see what they have in the way of photos, and if there are any early ones that they have been able to date. RRHS has some wonderful photos of Bangalow, but without dates I did not like to use them for my assignment.


Visiting the RRHS made me even more aware of the great work local historical and family societies do. Without the work of these fantastic volunteers it would be extremely hard to gain access to most of the information I was able to find today.

Section of an early map of the Parish of Byron that includes the land that pioneer settlers Robinson and Campbell selected.

One day, most likely when I finish this round of study, I will offer to volunteer at a local historical society to return the favour.

PS I took some great photos of the Parish map with my iPad by standing on a chair. I was asked to take my shoes off, which I did, and was also requested not to fall off the chair. You’ll be happy to know I managed to take the photos without causing an OH&S incident!