Faculty of Education and Arts

Dr Leigh Edmonds

Position: Honorary Research Fellow
Study area: Collaborative Research Centre in Australian History (CRCAH)
Location: SMB campus E building
Email: l.edmonds@federation.edu.au

Qualifications

Certificate in Museum Studies — Edith Cowan University — 1996
Doctor of Philosophy — Murdoch University — 1993
BA(Hons) — Australian National University — 1987

Biography

Leigh is a public and consulting historian with extensive experience in several areas of history and heritage.  Prior to going to university Leigh served in the Commonwealth Public Service for over twenty years, working ultimately in the area of ministerial policy briefing.  He went to university as a mature age student in 1980 and resigned from the Service in 1987 to take up full time study for a PhD at Murdoch University.  While there he undertook a great deal of tutoring and lecturing in a range of courses and commenced work as a consultant in history, heritage and oral history.  He served several terms as the President of the Oral History Association of Australia (WA), on several committees of the National Trust (WA), served as honorary researcher at the Aviation Heritage Museum of Western Australia, was heard in regular spots on the ABC Local radio network speaking on topics of historical interest, as well as undertaking consulting work in heritage and oral history.  Since the mid 1990s his primary area of work has been in researching and writing commissioned histories.  Leigh is a professional member of the Professional Historians Association (Vic) and served on the editorial board of the Association's refereed journal, Circa, for the first three years of its publication. Leigh is the 2016 Honorary Research Fellow of the Civil Aviation Historical Society.

Areas of expertise

Leigh's primary area of expertise is in researching and writing commissioned histories.
Leigh's main area of interest is in the history of technology.  This is not usually the history of technical innovation but the history of the construction of technological systems in social and cultural contexts.
Professionally, Leigh has expertise in setting up oral history projects and conducting interviews, in preparing heritage policy documents and conservation reports, public speaking on historical topics and in setting up and running university level courses.

Research interests

  • History of technology
  • History of Australian Aviation
  • Commissioned history
  • Australian history

Publications

Monographs

Australia takes flight, Ballarat Heritage Services (ebook), 2015

Colonel Haileybury's Little Army - a history of the Haileybury College Cadet Unit 1930-1975, Lavender Hill Multimedia, 2015

Working for All Australians - a short history of the Australian Taxation Office 1910-2010, Australian Taxation Office, 2010

The Vital Link: the transition years, main roads Western Australia 1996-2006, Main Roads Western Australia, 2008

A Good School, Haileybury's post-war years, The Institute for Public History, Monash University, 2008

A Colourful Life: a memoire of Ferencz Schwartz/Fred Agar OAM, The Institute for Public History, Monash University, 2006

H M Prison Beechworth: the end of an era 1856 - 2004, Corrections Victoria, Department of Justice, Victoria, 2006

Bringing Home the Bacon, a history of the Harris Family's Castlemaine Bacon Company 1905-2005, The Institute for Public History, Monash University, 2005

Living by Water, a history of Barwon Water and its predecessors, Barwon Region Water Authority, 2005

Cathedrals of Power, a short history of the power generating infrastructure in Western Australia, 1912-1999, University of Western Australia Press, 2000

The Vital Link, a history of main roads Western Australia 1926-1996, University of Western Australia Press, 1997

A Permanent Reminder, a history of the RAAF Association Aviation Heritage Museum of Western Australia, RAAF Association Heritage Museum of Western Australia, 1997

Book chapters

'Making Culture out of the Air, Radio and Television' (with Brian Shoesmith), in Farewell Cinderella, creating arts and identity in Western Australia, UWA Press, 2003, pp.203-240

'A Lesson in efficiency:  transport, communications and the community', in Jenny Gregory (ed) On the Homefront, Western Australia and World War II, University of Western Australia Press, 1996, pp.164-175

'Edgar Johnston and the Empire Men - Commonwealth Government control of aviation in Australia during the 1930s', in W David Lewis (ed) From Airships to Airbus:  Pioneers and Operators, Washington, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995, pp.261-280

Refereed journal articles

'Middleton, Rawdon Hume', entry in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, 1940-1980, 2000, p.366

'Reading and Listening; how radio changed the Dimboola Banner', Bibliographic Society of Australia and New Zealand Bulletin, Volume 23, Number 4, Fourth Quarter 1999, pp.249-258

'Australia, Britain and the Empire Air Mail scheme, 1934-1938', The Journal of Transport History, Volume 20, Number 2, September 1999, pp.91-106

'Heritage Places and Technological Systems: A Broader View of Cultural Significance', Studies in Western Australian History, Volume 17, 1997, pp.157-170

'Wireless Waves as Cultural Glue:  Tethering the Bush to the City in Western Australia between the Wars', Studies in Western Australian History, Vol 15, 1994, pp.92-109

'Capital - the cause of Australia's first airline accident', The Journal of Transport History, Vol 15, No 2, 1994, pp.165-78

'Hardware, software and wetware:  seeing the Royal Australian Air Force during the war in the Pacific as a cybernetic system', Journal of the Australian War Memorial, Issue 24, 1993, pp.13-19

'How Australians Were Made Airminded', Continuum, Vol 7 No 1, 1993, pp.183-206

'Brownell, Raymond James', entry in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, 1940-1980, 1993, pp.282-83

'Value for money?; civil aviation and defence between the wars', Journal of the Australian War Memorial, No 15, 1989, pp.26-33

Refereed conference proceedings

'The Postwar Project in Western Australia; a case study in Australian engineering development during the second half of the 20th century', Proceedings of the 11th National Conference on Engineering Heritage, Institution of Engineers, Australia, October 2001, pp.213-222

'The metropolis on the Swan River; shaped by its roads and bridges', Proceedings of the 9th National Conference on Engineering Heritage, Institution of Engineers, Australia, 1998, pp.57-67

'Fix Australia- Fix the Roads, An Historical Perspective', Fix Australia - Fix the Roads 1995 Summit Proceedings, Main Roads Western Australia, 1995, pp.29-34

'Transport Networks:  the Working Heart of Industry, the Missing Heart of Heritage', From Sailing Ships to Microchips; Inaugural Industrial Heritage Conference, Institution of Engineers Australia and Heritage Council of Western Australia, 1992, pp.76-79

'The History of Technology and the Shape of Western Australian History:  Nexus at Infrastructure', Proceedings, Barebones Symposium, University of Western Australia, 1992, pp.76-79

'The Ultimate Imperial Air Service, the Empire Air Mail Scheme'. Tempus Aerianus, Australian Civil Aviation in 1938, Papers given to History '88 by the Department of Aviation Historical Society, Canberra 1988

Consulting reports

Leigh Edmonds, An Oral History, Construction of the North-South Road, Northern Territory by the Country Roads Board, for VicRoads, December 2008

Leigh Edmonds, Corridor of Change - the planning and construction of the Graham Farmer Freeway, 1987-2000, for Main Roads Western Australia, June 2001

Leigh Edmonds, Developing Administrative Structures and Authorities: an historical survey of government and administration in Victoria, a cultural network background study, for the Historic Places Section, Department of Natural Resources and Environment, June 2001

Leigh Edmonds, Moving Goods and People, an historic survey of road and rail transport in Victoria, a cultural network background study, for the Historic Places Section, Department of Natural Resources and Environment, March 2001

Leigh Edmonds, Fiona Bush and David Dolan, Conservation Plan for Cunderdin Airfield, Research Institute for Cultural Heritage, Curtin University of Technology, 1999

Leigh Edmonds, A short history of power generating infrastructure in Western Australia, 1912-1999, Centre for Western Australian History, March 1999

Leigh Edmonds (compiler), Large Timber Structures in Western Australia, (5 volumes), Institution of Engineers Australia, prepared for the Australian Heritage Commission and the Heritage Council of Western Australia, 1998

Leigh Edmonds, Oral History, An Opportunity... Report for the State Library of Victoria - Options and Recommendations for the future of oral history in the State Library of Victoria, July 1998

Leigh Edmonds and Cathie Clement, with input from RN Alford, F Bush, G Grimwade, K Hunter and LJ Peet, Historic World War II Sites: A methodology and pilot study to develop a type profile, (3 volumes), prepared for the Australian Heritage Commission on behalf of the Australian Council of National Trusts, 1998

Leigh Edmonds, Oral History Collection Policy, John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library, Curtin University, Centre for Western Australian History, May 1998

Leigh Edmonds in association with Andrew Gill and Jenny Gregory, Western Australia Police Service Thematic History, Centre for Western Australian History, May 1998

Leigh Edmonds and Valma Brown, RAAF Association Aviation Heritage Museum of Western Australia, Strategic Plan Towards the Year 2001, June 1996 (revised December 1997)

Oline Richards, Leigh Edmonds, Gaye Naton, Rosemary Rosario and Chris Antill, Conservation Plan, WA Police Reserve, Maylands Peninsula, October 1995

Leigh Edmonds, Sara Kenderdine, Gaye Naton and Mark Staniforth, Historic Shipwrecks National Research Plan, March 1995

Leigh Edmonds and Fiona Bush in association with Valma Brown, Martin Gibbs and Jenny Gregory, A Report on a Heritage Strategy for Main Roads (WA), Centre for Western Australian History, December 1994

Leigh Edmonds, A Place for History in Technical Museums (and some related matters), October 1992

Conference and seminar presentations

'Australian aviation and society: the feedback loop', Aviation Cultures conference, University of Sydney, December 2015

'Stabilizing a media technology, creating the 'A Class' and 'B Class' broadcasting systems in Australia, 1928', WA Media Histories Workshop, June 2008

'Flying.  Where it came from, where it went and what it means', Australian Historical Association Conference, Newcastle, July 2004

'What the Wright Brothers did and how they did it', speech delivered at the Centenary of Flight Dinner, Melbourne, December 2003

'Prelude to "Airways", Norman Brearley develops the environment to support an air transport industry in Western Australia 1919-1920', Aviation Historical Association of Australia meeting, Melbourne, October 2002

'A short history of transport and communications', CHHA Local and Family History Expo 2002, Ballarat, October 2002

'The birth of Qantas and the death of Ansett: two slices of Australian social history', Australian Historical Association Conference, Brisbane, July 2002

'For whom the cash register rings; the economic and political genesis of Australia's two airline policy', Economic History Society of Australia & New Zealand and Australian Association for Maritime History 1999 Conference, December 1999

'The post-war project: main roads and the development of Western Australia', Engineering Heritage Panel, Institution of Engineers Australia, March 1999

'Putting aviation in context:  Edgar Johnston at the beginning of civil aviation administration in Australia', Edgar Johnston Memorial Lecture, Melbourne, October 1996

'Case studies in technology transfer to Australia - providing infrastructure to Western Australia between the wars and aircraft manufacture during World War II', International Committee for the History of Technology Symposium, Budapest, Hungary, August 1996

'The three ages of civil engineering', Engineering Heritage Panel, Institution of Engineers Australia, Perth, June 1996

'Oral history, the vital link', keynote speech, Oral History Association of Australia (WA) Conference, Bunbury, May 1996

'The cost of conquering isolation:  the economic and cultural cost of motor transport, aviation and wireless in Western Australia in the 1920s', 9th International Conference of Historical Geographers, Perth, July 1995

'The cultural meaning of Oral History', Oral History Association of Australia (WA) Conference, Perth, May 1995

'Tying the past together - maritime archaeology and other studies of the past', 13th Annual Conference, Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology, Brisbane, October 1994

'The tyranny of isolation: let's look again at Blainey's The Tyranny of Distance', Australian Historical Association Conference, Perth, September 1994

'Co-operation, comparison and conflict - maritime history meets aerospace history', New Directions in Maritime History Conference, Australian Association for Maritime History and the International Commission of Maritime History, Fremantle, December 1993

'The tyranny of isolation - the history of transport and communications in Australia', History Faculty Seminar, Auburn University, Alabama USA, October 1993

'Defence heritage is everyone's heritage', Keynote Speech at the Western Australia Defence Heritage and History Seminar, Perth, March 1993

'Edgar Johnston and government control of Australian civil aviation in the 1930s', International Conference on the History of Civil and Commercial Aviation, Luzern, Switzerland, August 1992

'Creating consumption through the pages of the West Australian during the 1930s: women's business and men's business', Murdoch History Seminar, Perth, November 1991

'The tyranny of isolation, its effect on Western Australia's history', 'Into the Nineties: New Trends in Western Australian History' history conference, Perth, March 1991

'Using new tools: some thoughts about the manufacture of aeroplanes in Australia during the Second World War', Military History Conference, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, July 1990

'Australia's air war in the Pacific, what we know about it', Military History Conference, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, July 1989

'Making a place to land: the Commonwealth Government's attitude to providing aerodromes in rural areas from the 1920s to the 1950s', Australian Historical Association Conference, Armidale, August 1987

Associations

  • Australian Historical Association
  • International Committee for the History of Technology
  • Professional Historians Association (Victoria) - Professional Member
  • Society for the History of Technology
  • Economic History Association of Australia and New Zealand
  • Australian Society for the History of Engineering and Technology
  • Australian Aviation Historical Society