Launch of landmark A-Z history of South Australia

Wednesday, 6 March 2002

A landmark A-to-Z reference book devoted to the history of South Australia will be launched at the University of Adelaide's North Terrace campus tomorrow (Thursday, 7 March, at 4pm, Walter Young Garden, between Lower Napier Building and Elder Hall).

Hailed by one reviewer as "an astonishing feat", The Wakefield Companion to South Australian History (Wakefield Press, $79.95) is a 655-page guide to, and commentary on, more than 600 events, institutions, people, places and topics of significance in the State's history. It was compiled by Professor Wilfrid Prest (Editor) and Dr Kerrie Round (Managing Editor) from the University's Department of History, with entries written by 220 contributors from South Australia, interstate, and overseas.

Many unusual and little-known facts are included. In 1879, for example, a pastry cook named Edmond Mears, who was based at the Adelaide Central Market, registered a patent for self-raising flour. He is one of numerous inventors, technologists and scientists whose work is recognised in the book.

Dr Round said that innovation - both social and technological - was a striking feature of South Australian history, a point remarked upon also by Professor Prest in his preface:

"In South Australia we find the nation's first anti-discrimination, heritage conservation, income tax and marital rape legislation and the first state museum to display Aboriginal paintings as contemporary works of art. Here also were the first bitumenised road, electro-convulsive therapy, employers' association, government- owned railway, political referendum, powered flight and totalisator."

While Dr Round co-ordinated the complexities of commissioning and reviewing entries, Dr Carol Fort (a recent Adelaide History PhD graduate) was responsible as Assistant Editor for much of the book's biographical content. They worked closely with an Editorial Board, drawn from the University's departments of History (Dr Robert Foster, Mr Bernard O'Neil and Associate Professor Susan Magarey), Social Inquiry (Dr Margaret Allen), Politics (Dr Jenny Tilby Stock) and Public Health (Dr Judith Raftery). Further input came from 26 Associate Editors, whose broad range of expertise reflects the Companion's comprehensive coverage and scope. Centenary of Federation funding, both state and federal, was provided for the project.

The book will be launched by Dr Margaret Anderson from the History Trust of South Australia.


Contact Details

Dr Kerrie Round
Business: +61 8313 4186

Media Team
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0814

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762