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History Week Archive: 2009–2015

History Week is an annual event organised by the History Council of New South Wales to showcase the rich, diverse history produced by organisations and individuals across the state.

2015: War, Nationalism and Identity

His Future is on your Hands Poster

The theme of History Week 2015 is ‘War, Nationalism and Identity’, which focuses on the history of nation building, nationalism and national identity as the products of both peaceful and violent processes, focusing on generals and politicians, constitution makers and revolutionaries. The ‘Before Sunset’ exhibition explores the Bank's role in raising funds, offering assistance to service people in foreign countries and aiding their reparation to Australia through original documents, photographs, artefacts and historical film footage.


2014: ‘The Great War’

  • Front side of Banjo Paterson postcard
  • Front side of Edith Cowan postcard
  • Front side of Nelly Melba postcard
  • Front side of Douglas Mawson postcard
  • Front side of Sir John Monash postcard
  • Front side of Douglas Mawson postcard
  • Front side of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith postcard
Front side of Banjo Paterson postcard Back side of Banjo Paterson postcard Front side of Edith Cowan postcard Back side of Edith Cowan postcard Front side of Nelly Melba postcard Back side of Nelly Melba postcard Front side of Douglas Mawson postcard Back side of Douglas Mawson postcard Front side of Sir John Monash postcard Back side of Sir John Monash postcard Front side of Douglas Mawson postcard Back side of Douglas Mawson postcard Front side of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith postcard Back side of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith postcard
Flip Banknote

The theme of History Week 2014 is ‘The Great War’, to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of World War I. The First World War was a defining period for our nation. Many of the famous people featured on Australia's banknotes were associated with this 'war to end all wars'. The Bank's contribution to this year's History Week will be a series of seven postcards featuring these famous Australians. The postcards are available to the Museum's visitors.


2013: ‘Picture This’

  • Thumbnail of Caroline Chisholm postcard.
  • Thumbnail of Henry Lawson postcard.
  • Thumbnail of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith postcard.
  • Thumbnail of Dame Mary Gilmore postcard.
  • Thumbnail of Mary Reibey postcard.
  • Thumbnail of Sir John Monash postcard.
Front side of Caroline Chisholm postcard Back side of Caroline Chisholm postcard Front side of Henry Lawson postcard Back side of Henry Lawson postcard Front side of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith postcard Back side of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith postcard Front side of Dame Mary Gilmore postcard Back side of Dame Mary Gilmore postcard Front side of Mary Reibey postcard Back side of Mary Reibey postcard Front side of Sir John Monash postcard Back side of Sir John Monash postcard
Flip Banknote

Titled ‘Picture This’, the theme of History Week 2013 focused on our visual culture: advertisements, ephemera, paintings, photographs, posters and sundry other forms of visual representation. The Bank contributed to History Week 2013 by producing a series of postcards, illustrating portraits of selected identities from our banknotes. The postcards highlighted the influence of these portraits on the imagery of the banknotes, and described the lives of those chosen to appear on our currency. The postcards were available to the Museum's visitors.


2012: Dressed by Bill - Fashion on the Money

History Week 2012 focused on the history of dress, affording us the opportunity to review individuals who feature on our banknotes, and to discover characteristics of their clothes. The character of ‘Dollar Bill’ instructed us in the new system of decimal currency in 1966; during History Week 2012 he guided us on a tour of select historical figures, and revealed the changing styles of their dress during the 19th and early 20th centuries.


2011: Eat History

History Week 2011 is themed ‘Eat History’, and focuses on the history of Australian food and drink. The Reserve Bank’s Museum highlights the associations between this theme and the history of our currency. Visitors can view a ‘menu’ that details these association between food and drink and the nation's banknotes, drawing on this for a self-guided tour of the Museum. Brochures are available at the Museum desk.


2010: Faces in the Street

Prime Minister Billy Hughes is seen delivering a speech at the 'Temple of Peace' which was designed by the same architects as the Commonwealth Bank, Herwald and John Kirkpatrick. The occasion was the Prime Minister's first visit to Sydney in more than 16 months, having been in England and the Versailles Peace Conference. Billy Hughes was carried from Town Hall to Martin Place on a chair that was fixed to two slender poles. Someone in the crowd handed him a bulldog, which may be seen in the photograph. Once at Martin Place, Hughes rallied the crowds explaining the use of the peace loans and their importance.

Prime Minister Billy Hughes is seen delivering a speech at the 'Temple of Peace' which was designed by the same architects as the Commonwealth Bank, Herwald and John Kirkpatrick. The occasion was the Prime Minister's first visit to Sydney in more than 16 months, having been in England and the Versailles Peace Conference. Billy Hughes was carried from Town Hall to Martin Place on a chair that was fixed to two slender poles. Someone in the crowd handed him a bulldog, which may be seen in the photograph. Once at Martin Place, Hughes rallied the crowds explaining the use of the peace loans and their importance.

Australia needed to raise funds after the First World War to assist the returned troops. As part of Ladies Day, prominent women including Mrs Eleanor McKinnon, founder of the Junior Red Cross, spoke to the crowds in Martin Place for the second peace loan. Their placard refers to Villers-Bretonneux, a small village in the Somme in northern France, which was the site of a significant battle involving Australian troops during the First World War. Their sacrifice is still remembered in the village with an Australian National Memorial, a ceremony on Anzac Day and a school known as the Victoria School.

Australia needed to raise funds after the First World War to assist the returned troops. As part of Ladies Day, prominent women including Mrs Eleanor McKinnon, founder of the Junior Red Cross, spoke to the crowds in Martin Place for the second peace loan. Their placard refers to Villers-Bretonneux, a small village in the Somme in northern France, which was the site of a significant battle involving Australian troops during the First World War. Their sacrifice is still remembered in the village with an Australian National Memorial, a ceremony on Anzac Day and a school known as the Victoria School.

Crowds fill Martin Place to attend the official opening of the Commonwealth Bank. Construction of the head office building was completed in 1916 with the official opening taking place on 22 August. Inside the bank, speeches were made from a gallery overlooking the banking chamber. Looking down Martin Place to George Street a campaign for enlisting in the First World War may be seen. Of a population of 4 million a total of 416,809 Australians enlisted.

Crowds fill Martin Place to attend the official opening of the Commonwealth Bank. Construction of the head office building was completed in 1916 with the official opening taking place on 22 August. Inside the bank, speeches were made from a gallery overlooking the banking chamber. Looking down Martin Place to George Street a campaign for enlisting in the First World War may be seen. Of a population of 4 million a total of 416,809 Australians enlisted.

The Lord Mayor of Sydney, Sir James Joynton Smith, delivers a speech on top of a tank for 'Tank Week', held in April 1918. The Australian public helped to finance the First World War by lending their country money in exchange for war bonds, which were intended to 'save brave lives, to shorten the war, and to ensure victory and peace' (W.A. Watt, Treasurer, March 1918). The Commonwealth Bank of Australia managed the operation on behalf of the government.


The Lord Mayor of Sydney, Sir James Joynton Smith, delivers a speech on top of a tank for 'Tank Week', held in April 1918. The Australian public helped to finance the First World War by lending their country money in exchange for war bonds, which were intended to 'save brave lives, to shorten the war, and to ensure victory and peace' (W.A. Watt, Treasurer, March 1918). The Commonwealth Bank of Australia managed the operation on behalf of the government.

Passers-by stop to look at the construction of the new Reserve Bank of Australia Head Office, December 1961. At the time that the Reserve Bank building was constructed, Martin Place was still open to traffic. Plans to convert it to a pedestrian plaza began in the early 1970s with the whole of the thoroughfare converted by 1979.

Passers-by stop to look at the construction of the new Reserve Bank of Australia Head Office, December 1961. At the time that the Reserve Bank building was constructed, Martin Place was still open to traffic. Plans to convert it to a pedestrian plaza began in the early 1970s with the whole of the thoroughfare converted by 1979.

2009: The convicts, forgers and forgeries

History Week 2009

View the history of Australia’s banknotes against a background of the convicts, forgers and their forgeries that have been woven into our past. Learn about some the notorious personalities of Australia’s founding years and how today, Australia has been the forefront of developing security designed to combat their activities.

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