In the next edition of Irish Lives Remembered, Fiona Fitzsimons talks to Liz Rushen, Australian social and cultural historian, about her research on Irish women immigrants to Australia before the Famine.
Dr. Rushen talks about sources, communicating research through story-telling, and why social history is of greater explanatory importance.
FF: What’s your favourite source?
LR: Trove or British newspapers online. Trove is the Australian version. Trove means treasure and it is an absolute treasure.
You’ve written how these young women arrived in a land completely beyond anything they had ever imagined. How important is imagination as one of the skills of the historian?
The best historians are storytellers. Of course, it’s very different to how history used to be written, the big stories of great men, usually written by men. These [narratives] were usually very rigid. Compare that with the history that’s being written today. It’s the influence of historians like E.P. Thompson and history from below, it informs how we look at the past and the questions we ask.
The full in-depth interview can be read in Irish Lives Remembered Summer 2017