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Donovan News 44

Spring 2014

We are pleased to celebrate the recognition accorded Peter Donovan who was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters at the Spring graduation ceremony at the University of New England, Armidale, on 25 October 2014. Peter originally graduated from the university in 1969 with an honours degree in History. The citation read by the Vice Chancellor summarises the basis for the recognition:

Citation Nomination for Honorary Doctorate for Peter F Donovan Honorary Degrees, Titles & Tributes Committee – 13 June 2014

For over thirty years Peter Donovan has been a leading figure in the field of public or applied history. The first person to make a full time, permanent career out of writing commissioned histories, Donovan has significantly raised the awareness of historical records and knowledge among many government, quasi-government and commercial institutions in Australia. He was a founder of the Professional Historians’ Association in South Australia, an initiative followed in other states and overseas, and was also a leading figure in the creation of a national body. In this way he contributed materially to the establishment of a professional identity for consultant historians and heritage advisers, by drafting the code of ethics, establishing standards of professional credentials and conduct and a structure of fees. His mentoring of the profession also included the provision of training programmes and work opportunities for others aspiring to work as historians in the market place.

As a consultant Donovan has written almost fifty books, conducted thirty-nine heritage surveys, and published eleven books and manuals on his own initiative.

Donovan has left a significant imprint on Australian historiography, and raised the historical consciousness of Australians. He has opened the way to novel avenues of employment for history graduates, and is a key figure in the professionalization of public or applied history not only in Australia but overseas as well.

Peter was also asked to give the occasional address to graduating students.

Otherwise, the business of Donovan & Associates has continued as before.

Donovan & Associates completed a history of Mercedes College, Springfield, which was launched in early 2014 to mark the 60th anniversary of the College. During this time the College changed from a boarding school for girls, conducted entirely by Mercy Sisters, to a day co-educational college staffed completely by lay people. The history reflects the recent history of education in Australia, in general, and that of Catholic education, in particular.

Donovan & Associates is finally bringing to conclusion the history of the Elphinstone group of companies, which has been on hold for much of the year. The group is currently focused on the transition of ownership and management to the next generation, and provides the perfect opportunity to record the origins and early history of the group.

Donovan & Associates has continued its involvement in oral history projects for the National Library with an interview of Professor Graeme Young. Professor Young is a gastroenterologist with an international reputation. He was largely instrumental in developing the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and has established the Cancer Prevention Unit at the Flinders Medical Centre. In 2013 he was acknowledged as the South Australian Scientist of the Year.

Peter Donovan has also been involved in the Australian Generations Project, managed from Monash University, with assistance from the National Library of Australia and the ABC. The project used interviewers from around Australia to interview as many as 300 people of diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and ages, with the object of providing a valuable resource with which to study changes in Australian society. The ABC has already put to air programs based upon the interviews.

Peter Donovan has continued to provide history and cultural presentations aboard cruise ships based in Australian waters during the cruising season from October to April. Since providing presentations about northern Australia aboard Radiance of the Seas in 2012, Peter has provided series of presentations about the history and culture of New Zealand and other South Pacific nations. The cruise in April 2014, from Sydney to Hawaii, provided the opportunity to address additional topics such as the International Dateline, Crossing the Equator ceremonies, and the meaning of ANZAC Day.

In April 2015 Peter will provide presentations about Gallipoli and the ANZAC experiences while aboard the Celebrity Constellation which will anchor off ANZAC Cove at the time of the Dawn Service to mark the centenary of the original landing on the beach. The cruise will provide Peter and June with the opportunity to revisit the Gallipoli Peninsula. They did so originally in 2012 to record the last resting places of those soldiers from Kapunda who died while on active service in World War I and about whom Peter wrote in his book Storm. In 2012, they also travelled to the nearby island of Gökḉeada—formerly Imbros—where the 1st Australian Field Bakery baked bread for the troops on Gallipoli and where Australian troops travelled to recuperate.

Donovan & Associates has continued to provide occasional lectures to historical societies and groups. Topics have included ‘Writing History’ to the South Australian Genealogy and Heraldry Society; ‘The Art and Craft of Stained and Painted Glass’ to the University of the Third Age at both Henley Beach and Port Adelaide. In 2015, Peter Donovan is to talk about the Gallipoli experiences of men from Kapunda to the local RSL and community, and also to the Historical Society of South Australia.

Peter Donovan receiving the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from Acting Chancellor, Dr Geoffrey Fox, University of New England, 25 October 2014
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