Conceived in the late 1970s as a contribution by the Australian historical profession to the Bicentenary of European colonisation, Australians: a historical library, in ten volumes, is to be found on the reference shelves of most larger libraries, and is now available in a digitised version on the Academy’s website. The core text can be searched by keyword, and PDFs of each chapter can be readily downloaded. Illustrations were central to the project, not least the maps in the Historical Atlas.
Over four hundred writers contributed to the project, including geographers, demographers, economists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and political scientists, as well as historians. Many are fellows of the Academy of Social Sciences, some of them now deceased, including Ken Inglis (1929-2017), who developed the notion of the ‘slice history volumes’ (1838, 1888, 1938) and who, more than any other individual, made this collective scholarly project happen. An account of the project, including debates about its shape and content, is to be found in The Guide and Index, on this website, by Oliver MacDonagh, the chair of the management committee. Published by Fairfax, Syme and Weldon in 1987 and 1988, the ten volumes, in full colour, were printed in Adelaide by the Griffin Press and sold by subscription.