The Blanket Pilots


Exhibition: 30 July to 9 August 2014

The University Gallery

Fine Art Students from Hunter Schools High Performers Program 2014

Since 2003, the High Performing Students Program has been giving exceptional high school students the opportunity to get a ‘taste’ of university while still at school. The program is delivered at Merewether High School but is open to students from all schools, and aims to keep our best and brightest in the region.

Students enrol in first-year University courses, getting access to world class lecturers, online learning technologies, and library resources. There is a diversity of courses in areas ranging from Science and Engineering to Business, Fine Art, and Health. Practical industry experience is included when possible, so students may attend labs, excursions, and exhibitions.

When a course is successfully completed, students have the satisfaction of achieving new knowledge in an area of interest, and are also eligible for a credit transfer in a relevant university degree program.

In 2014, the program has included Fine Art for the first time, and students have produced an outstanding selection of work for exhibition in the University Gallery. The University of Newcastle is proud to support the region’s high performing students and this inaugural exhibition of our students’ work.

Featuring the work of:
Amanda Chan and Rachel Ditton – Merewether High School
Georgia Clifton, Skye Hobbs and Liam Johnston –
Toronto High School
Isabelle Kenyon – Distance Education
Bonita Maher – ASC St Peter’s Campus
Eliza Munro and Brianna Standen – Charlton Christian College
Chelsea Patterson – CC Wallsend Campus
Salem Shaw – San Clemente High School
Jack Wilton-King – Cooks Hill Campus

Please join the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Andrew Parfitt for the official launch at the University Gallery:
Thursday 31 JULY at 5.30pm

Religion and Radicalism Research Seminar Series

Religion and Radicalism Research Seminar SeriesRELIGION AND RADICALISM RESEARCH SEMINAR SERIES, SEMESTER 2, 2014

7 August: Christina Petterson, University of Newcastle.

“Pestis Reipublicae & Ecclesiae”. Radical Pietism, Afterlife and Social Change in 18th Century Oberlausitz, Saxony.

28 August: James Harding, Otago University.

Male-male relationships in the Bible: What are we missing?

18 September: Peter Hempenstall, University of Newcastle.

Ernest Burgmann the critical maverick as Bishop

16 October: Roland Boer, University of Newcastle

Religion and Civil Society: Production, Exclusion, Resistance

Venue: Auchmuty Library Cultural Collections

Time: Thursdays 3-4.30pm, All welcome.

Contact:, +61(0)2492 18703

History @ Newcastle Research Seminar Series

History @ Newcastle

Research Seminar Series

Semester Two, 2014

ALL WELCOME Cultural Collections, Auchmuty Library 10 – 11am. Followed by morning tea.

Week 1 – Friday, 1 August – Panel presentation by University of Newcastle scholars

“Ukraine and Russia: Roots of the Current Crisis”

Emeritus Professor of History, Alan Ward: “Why Moscow mistrusts the West.”
Dr. Sacha Davis, Lecturer in History: “History Wars: Ukraine vs Russia”
Assoc. Professor of Modern European History, Roger Markwick: “Crisis in Ukraine: made in Moscow?

Week 3 – Friday, 15 August –Prof Peter Hempenstall – Emeritus Prof, University of Canterbury NZ/Conjoint, Prof University of Newcastle

“How does the historian deal with ‘madness’? Sizing up anthropologist Derek Freeman and the Borneo incident 1961”

Week 5 – 29 August – Dr Gemma Clark – University of NSW

“Arson in modern Ireland: Fire and protest since 1800”

Week 7 – 12 September – Barrie Dowdall, director/producer & Siobhan Lynam, researcher/ screen writer

“The Making of Convict Women: The challenges and rewards of bringing historical research to the small screen’

Week 9 – 10 October – Troy Saxby, PhD candidate – University of Newcastle

“ ‘America’s Problem Child’ The life of U.S. civil rights and feminist activist Pauli Murray (1910-1985)”

Week 11 – 24 October – Dr Sharon Crozier-De Rosa – University of Wollongong

TBA (Dr Crozier-De Rosa’s visit will be hosted by the Centre for the History of Violence)

Week 13 – 7 November – Dr David Lee – Director of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Historical Records Project Section

“Australia’s Coal Rush, 1960-1975”

Ukraine and Russia

History @ Newcastle

Ukraine and Russia: Roots of the Current Crisis

Friday, 1 August – 10am to 11.30am

Cultural Collections, Level 2, Auchmuty Library


Emeritus Professor of History, Alan Ward: “Why Moscow mistrusts the West.”

Dr. Sacha Davis, Lecturer in History: “History Wars: Ukraine vs Russia”

Assoc. Professor of Modern European History, Roger Markwick: “Crisis in Ukraine: made in Moscow?”

Abstract: The virtual civil war that erupted in the Ukraine in March 2014, and the war of words between the USA, the European Union and Moscow, have been exacerbated by the tragic destruction of Malaysian Airlines MH17 and the resultant loss of innocent lives. Some commentators see the ongoing crisis as a new ‘Cold War’, especially after Moscow occupied and annexed Crimea and NATO sounded alarm bells. This special History Research seminar aims to unravel the complex roots, old and new, of the current crisis.

All welcome.


Friends of UoN 2014 Acquisitive Art Prizes and Art Fair

The Friends of UoN 2014 Acquisitive Art Prizes and Art Fair

The Friends of the University of Newcastle

2014 Acquisitive Art Prizes and Art Fair

Exhibitions 23 July to 27 July 2014

The Friends of the University of Newcastle play a vital role in the development and support of scholarships from the University and fund raise consistently for various needs of the University community. The Friends of the University of Newcastle formed in 1981 and have successfully raised nearly $1,000,000.

This year the Friends of the University of Newcastle are sponsoring an Acquisitive Art Prize of $6,000 and two Student Acquisitive Art Prizes of $2 ,500 each. The exhibition will display the finalists, and the awards will be announced at 5pm on Friday 25 July.

The support for these art prizes assists in the growth of the University’s Art Collection, a public collection of real significance for our region.

The Art Fair is a biennial exhibition and sale that alternates with the Friends’ very successful Book Fair. Both Fairs are major fundraising events that support in many ways our University community and our students. Money raised at the Art Fair supports these prizes and the Friends of the University Margaret Olley Postgraduate Scholarship which will be awarded on the night.

The Art Fair represents a real opportunity to buy work from significant artists at affordable prices. Works will be on view from Wednesday 23 July with the sale commencing at 6pm sharp after the announcement of the awards.

Art Fair Opening Hours

Viewings Wednesday to Friday 10am – 5pm
Sale starts 6pm Friday
Saturday and Sunday 12noon – 4pm

Please join the Friends of the University of Newcastle and our judges for the
announcement of the 2014 Acquisitive Art Prize winners:
Friday 25 JULY at 5pm, and for the
Art Fair sale at 6pm.

The Lettesi in Newcastle by Dr Judith Galvin

The Lettesi in Newcastle (Front Cover)

The Lettesi in Newcastle (Front Cover)

Over the Australia Day 2014 long weekend, I was contacted by Dr Judy Galvin, who completed her PhD back in 1983 on the Lettesi in Newcastle.

The Lettesi were a community of Italian immigrants from the town of Lettopalena, located in the Abruzzi region (Chieti province) of Italy.

Here is an introduction by Dr Judith Galvin, from the work “The Lettesi Story: A Community in Search of Place” pp. 5-7:

“The Lettesi in Newcastle are the extended family members of 145 households, where either one or both partners were born in Lettopalena, Italy. Most of this core group of first generation immigrants arrived in Australia over the seven-year period from 1950 to 1956 and after working in the cane fields, settled mainly in Hamilton, a working-class suburb, close to the heavy industries and port facilities of Newcastle.

The community evolved through a chain migration process that began with the arrival, in 1925, of Giacomo De Vitis. In 1927, Giacomo called his brother-in-law, Arcangelo Rossetti. In 1938 Arcangelo’s sons, Antonio and Giacomo, bought a cane farm in Proserpine where the brothers later purchased farms of their own. These farms became the focus for a major post-war exodus, sponsored mainly by Antonio, with assistance from Giacomo, and other Italian farmers.

Emigration from the village was not a new phenomenon, for many had left earlier for America and Argentina; but during the war, in 1943, after suffering two months of German occupation, the people watched as their homes were destroyed. At the end of the war there was nothing left but the ruins of a village and what remained of the stables. The result was an exodus on a scale never before experienced by the village.

I first came to know the Lettesi community during the course of research in 1971 when a random sample of 45 Italian households revealed seven families from a single village. The village was Lettopalena; and the pattern was surprising as Lettopalena’s population had less than a thousand people.

Among the seven families interviewed were Fiorindo Martinelli and his wife, Filomena; and when I showed surprise at the high number of Lettesi, Filomena offered to have a gathering at their home so I could hear first-hand of the events that had brought them all the way to Australia in such large numbers. It was a powerful, engaging story, but I had to leave it till another time. Four years later, in 1975, the opportunity came to examine it further.

Meanwhile I had interviewed immigrants from different countries, to learn about their origins and destination patterns. What I found among the southern European groups, from Greece, Italy and the former Yugoslavia, were distinctive patterns of residential concentration that reflected the town or region of origin.

The Lettesi, in particular, were a distinctive village entity. The pattern did not apply to those from Germany and the Netherlands; and was not quite so marked for other southern European groups. 1 wanted to know how this community had evolved; how it managed to retain its distinctive identity; and how it functioned within the wider society. The story, unravelled, had a human dimension that encompassed the very essence of the meaning of community - a locality where social life is characterised by a set of common values and beliefs, a strong sense of identity and belonging, social coherence and functional interdependence.

My second meeting with Lettesi, four years later, was the result of a mistake. Hearing a radio announcement of a dance to be held in Hamilton, in support of the victims of an earthquake in Italy in 1975, and being organised by Lettesi, I decided to attend. Being shy by nature, I was grateful for the company of an Italian friend, Luigina Barile, who agreed to come along. We were unaware that the announcement was a strategy for reaching the large community membership; and that the invitation was not directed to the general public. We had gate-crashed a Lettesi community event; and it was hugely embarrassing.

At the door we were met by members of the Committee, and for a second time I experienced the overwhelming hospitality of this exceptional community. Extra places were set at the Committee’s own table where we were treated with a dose of true Italian hospitality, as though we were honoured guests. My embarrassment was complete when, on winning the door-prize, a huge bottle of champagne, I was required to walk the length of the hall, to the stage, then back again, carrying the spoils. This conspicuous introduction was not the one I would have planned.

A commitment to record the full Lettesi story was the outcome of a meeting with Antonio Della Grotta, President of the Lettesi Club. Antonio’s significance to the welfare of the group could never be overstated; nor could his importance to the progress of my research. He led me through the extended family networks that comprised the Lettesi. Then, following a year of in-depth interviews with Lettesi families in Newcastle and recording their accounts of emigration and re-settlement, I went to the village in July 1977.

In Lettopalena I met, for the first time, Antonio Rossetti, brother of Giacomo, and son of Arcangelo, the Lettesi pioneer. It was a chance meeting; but a very timely one. He was visiting family, including the D’Acciones. Antonio was a cousin to Antonio D’Accione who, in 1976, followed Antonio Della Grotta as Lettesi Club President. It was he who had arranged accommodation, in Lettopalena, for me and my family.

Antonio Rossetti was the principal link in the chain migration process. This meeting was fortuitous for Antonio had not been interviewed as he was one of the few Lettesi not resident in Newcastle. He had sold the farm in Proserpine and was living in Brisbane where Angelo, his son, had set up a pharmacy. Pasquale Martinelli whom I had interviewed the year before was visiting the village also. It was his first visit to the homeland.

Both men were indispensable, not only in the roles of informant, guide and interpreter, but also as a channel through which I could identify the connections that linked Australia to the homeland within the maze of complex extended family interrelationships. They were a welcome mat to the community, a bridge to their hospitality. They showed me over the rubble of the old town, sharing their memories as they formed among the ruins of what had once been family homes.

These memories reclaimed the town, generations of Lettesi families, and traditions of a way of life that was practised there for centuries. There, upon a mountain ledge, almost hidden in the undergrowth, were remains of an ancient village where families had lived for countless generations, reaching back to the 12th century. And there, beyond the river, spread out across the relict fields, was the new town of Lettopalena for which Antonio and Pasquale now felt a kind of strangeness. Their memories were embedded among the ruins of the old town.

I recognised in the new town with its spacious layout, comfortable homes and neat kitchen gardens, a way of life that lay in stark contrast to that experienced in the old town, clustered on a ledge of the mighty Maiella massif and overlooking a ravine of the Aventino River. It contrasted, too, with the makeshift homes that Lettesi had forged from the stables of solid stone, in the fields just across the river when the village was destroyed, and at the end of the war. I could see how these changes were symbolic of the break in the chain of continuity of emigration from the village.

There was a story, published in 1998, of Lettopalena’s early history till 1943; a heart-wrenching tale of its total destruction, and of the epic struggle for survival experienced by its people.

Our story begins in 1943 with the destruction of the village; then follows an account of chain migration from the village to the cane fields of Proserpine, northern Queensland; then from Proserpine to Newcastle. It is a story of Lettesi people, of the roles and relations that formed and sustained them, and their spirit and well-being, as a close-knit community in an alien, unfriendly setting. It is a story of community in search of place.”

The Village of Lettopalena pre - 1943

The Village of Lettopalena pre – 1943

Their town was systematically destroyed by the Germans, which led to the displaced people being resettled to specific communities in Australia (Hamilton, Newcastle, NSW), the USA (Turtle Creek, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania) and Argentina (Caseros, Buenos Aires).

The New Village in 1977

The New Village in 1977

The reason Dr Galvin contacted us was her wish to ensure that the local community, as well as its companion communities around the world, have perpetual access to the research and resources she collected while doing her thesis.

Thanks to the kind generosity of one of our volunteers, Leigh Graham, who over the past months has donated her time to come in and digitise Dr Galvin’s thesis to create a single PDF file for download at the following link:

The Lettesi in Newcastle [manuscript] : a study of ethnic community formation, consolidation and integration
by Judith Galvin (37.1 PDF File)

The University Library record for this Thesis 866 is here:

In addition, Dr Galvin also prepared a work documenting the story of the people, written in a more accessible style. It is called “The Lettesi Story: A Community in Search of Place” and is also available for download here:

The Lettesi Story: A Community in Search of Place by Dr Judith Galvin (7.1 PB PDF File)

She has provided The University of Newcastle (Australia) with a letter of permission to digitize this material, and distribute it widely in electronic form; namely both her thesis The Lettisi in Newcastle (Thesis 866) and her recent work The Lettesi Story for access through the University’s digital databases and web portals.

I assisted Judy around 10 years ago to repair and digitize a rare tape recording in her possession.

Tracks 1-6 appear to have been recorded at Judith Galvin’s home, on the eve of her visit to the township in Italy, in July 1977. Members of the Lettesi community can be heard singing and sending messages to their loved loved ones in Lettopalena, and wishes in anticipation for a welcome for Judith and her family on their visit there.  Tracks 7-8 appear to have been recorded at Lettopalena at the conclusion of the family’s stay there, and consist of messages back to their loved ones in Australia that Judith would convey to the community on her return to Australia . Anyone with further information regarding this recording is welcome to contact us so that we can include this information with its documentation. All 8 tracks are digitised below:

Lettopalena Recording – Track 1 – Newcastle (4.3MB MP3 File)

Lettopalena Recording – Track 2 – Newcastle Grazi a tutti (1.5MB MP3 File)

Lettopalena Recording – Track 3 – Newcastle (2.1MB MP3 File)

Lettopalena Recording – Track 4 – Newcastle (2.8MB MP3 File)

Lettopalena Recording – Track 5 – Newcastle (4 MB MP3 File)

Lettopalena Recording – Track 6 – Newcastle Final Songs (14.1 MB MP3 File)

Lettopalena Recording – Track 7 – Lettopalena Introduction and Fisamonica (18.7 MB MP3 File)

Lettopalena Recording – Track 8 – Lettopalena (26.1 MB MP3 File)

The Lettesi Gathering in Newcastle

The Lettesi Gathering in Newcastle

Antonio Rossetti and Pasquale Martinelli photographed at the old site of Lettopalena

Antonio Rossetti and Pasquale Martinelli photographed at the old site of Lettopalena

We thank Dr Judith Galvin for her generosity, and our volunteer staff member Leigh Graham for  her diligent work in making this important research available to the communities of the Lettopalena Italian people, their descendants and loved ones across the world.

Yours sincerely,

Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist
University of Newcastle (Australia)


Local Treasures: The UoN Hunter Film & Sound Archive

Day Shift – 10/06/2014 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: Carol Duncan
Interviewees: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, University of Newcastle (Australia)

The University of Newcastle’s Cultural Collections (housed within the Auchmuty Library) holds a significant collection of audio-visual archives consisting of sound and film reels in a diverse variety of formats. Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, discusses the challenges involved with the archival preservation and digitsation of sound and film, and the future plans and dreams for the establishment of a University of Newcastle Hunter Film and Sound Archive that aims to safeguard some of the historic audio-visual legacy of Newcastle and the Hunter Region.

Broadcast Notes:

The film above is a snippet from a series of discs recently donated to the University by Mr Pete Smith. Peter was a former employee of the Oak Factory at Hexham.

This is the first of a number of sequences used in the film “The Story of the Hunter Valley” [1951] It was digitised from the original 16mm reels by Pete Smith and donated to the University of Newcastle on a series of DVDs.

Thanks to TROVE, we believe the film footage contains the dream sequence material shot in King Edward Park, Newcastle and recounts the story of “Johnny” a lad who is sick of city life and wishes a life on the land.

From the Singleton Argus Wednesday 8 August 1951 p2: “In his wanderings through a city garden he sees in more vivid perspective the work of soil and nature. He falls asleep and dreams that he meets a farmer who gives him a letter to another farmer in the Upper Hunter, where Johnny goes bush and soon becomes a son of the soil. Interesting scenes of the Kia Ora Stud Farm at Segenhoe, work at the Glenbawn Dam, modern methods of preventing soil erosion by contour ploughing, drainage, vegetable growing, haymaking, and modern methods in dairying highlighted the shots of the film. The secondary industries covered included the B.H.P. Steelworks, Stewart and Lloyd’s Pipe Works and the Bradford Textile Mills.”

This film is part of a number of productions financed by the Hunter Valley Co-operative Dairy Company Ltd.

Here is another short colour silent film, shot by renown Newcastle photographer, Ron Morrison, of the Oak stand at the Muswellbrook Bike Races, sometime in the 1960s perhaps.

The University has custody of a number of these films, that have been donated over the past months, and all from the lost archive of the Hunter Valley Co-operative Dairy Company Ltd. A number have been digitised professionally including:

We have also had eight reels of outtakes from the “We Live in this Valley” (1962) and will be uploading the digitised results soon.

Other film collections include the Super 8 film archive of Jen Christensen, donated in 2011, and the University of Newcastle Graduation Videos, a large portion that exist on Super VHS Format, as well as a series of important 16mm films and audio recordings held across the collections.