PhD Scholarships in UCD School of English, Drama and Film

The School of English, Drama and Film at University College Dublin currently has three generously funded Ad Astra PhD studentships available that include an annual stipend, full fee waivers, and an annual research allowance. The deadline for applications is 10 April 2020. Full details can be found online here: I will be supervising one of theContinue reading “PhD Scholarships in UCD School of English, Drama and Film”

The ‘most important branch of the institution’: Libraries of the Mechanics’ Institutes

During his inaugural lecture as president of the Beechworth Athenaeum in 1864, J. B. Castieau identified one of the key functions and priorities of the mechanics’ institutes, arguing that the ‘Library was the main stay and sheet anchor of the Institution’. The selection of books, Castieau believed was ‘[a]lmost the only really, important duty ofContinue reading “The ‘most important branch of the institution’: Libraries of the Mechanics’ Institutes”

Fires at Mechanics’ Institutes

Mechanics’ institutes and their libraries faced a high risk of being destroyed by fire in the nineteenth century. The Sandhurst Mechanics’ Institute caught alight on 25 December 1865 and while it is not clear whether they lost any of their library collection, parts of the building were damaged and unfortunately the building was not insured.Continue reading “Fires at Mechanics’ Institutes”

Goldfields Lecturer: David Blair

Born in Ireland in 1820, David Blair emigrated to Australia in 1851. Ordained as a minister in Sydney, he pursued a varied career, including working as a journalist and a politician. Blair was a frequent lecturer at mechanics’ institutes, including the Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute (one of the case studies of the project). Below is aContinue reading “Goldfields Lecturer: David Blair”

Case Studies

‘A New Reading Public’ focuses on five goldfields mechanics’ institutes: Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute (established 1859, abortive attempt in 1854) Beechworth Athenaeum (established 1856) Chiltern Athenaeum (established 1866) Sandhurst Mechanics’ Institute (established 1854) Stanley Athenaeum (established 1863) These institutes have been chosen because of their important remnant library and archival collections