Upcoming Events and information

Activities and News

Welcome to our new website

We are extremely pleased to launch our ‘new look’ website which has been designed by Jeff from JXL Network Solutions with a grant from Museums and Galleries NSW



Our next issue is due out in October and there are still pages for further articles and book reviews. Your contributions will be appreciated by 30 August. Email boogaroon@yasshistory.org.au or phone Cheryl Mongan on 0413 312 081 for further information



Our monthly newsletter ‘Yandoo’ is circulated to all members and kindred  societies to keep them informed of the latest news, activities and the work of the archives and museum. For copies of the newsletter please click on link below


August 2023 YDHS Newsletter No 66

September 2023 YDHS Newsletter No 67

October 2023 YDHS Newsletter No 68

November 2023 YDHS Newsletter No 69

December 2023 YDHS Newsletter No 70

YDHS Newsletter February 2024



The society meets at the Uniting Church Hall, Cliff Street (until further notice) at 2pm on the first Monday of each month – February to December (except the AGM on a date in October to be advised).
Why not join us for interesting presentations, the opportunity to participate in forums, a cuppa and to catch up with other members.


Wages paid to the Irish Orphans 1849-1851
Thursday 15 August 1.30pm to 3pm

To celebrate National Family History Month in August, Museums of History (MHNSW) experts will be travelling to Yass to share stories about some of the 4,100 young Irish women who came to Australia between 1848 and 1850 as part of Earl Grey’s Famine Orphan Scheme.

Recruited from the workhouses in Ireland, the woman were an integral part of the workforce in their adopted country. The register of wages paid to orphans from 1849-1851 is a key source in researching the stories of many Irish girls and women who arrived in NSW under the scheme. It contains details of the orphans, their employers and the wages paid.

Join MHNSW archivists for an illustrated presentation about these Irish women and take advantage of this rare opportunity to view the original register from the State Archives Collection.

Free, Bookings essential. Book now   https://www.trybooking.com/CTGWF             Optional afternoon tea by donation – see booking form.

Image: From MHNSW- StAC: Immigration Agent; NRS-5274, Wages paid to orphans, 1849-1851


Yass Graveside Yarns

Our cemetery walks have proved extremely popular and fully booked on each occasion. There will be more walks in the coming months some with varying themes to tell the fascinating stories of early Yass Valley residents. These guided walking tours last approximately 90 minutes are conducted by volunteers from the Yass & District Historical Society.

Keep an eye out for further details and how to book.

A major step forward

On Wednesday 13 December we were thrilled to be able to host the Hon Bob Nanva MLC, Government Whip in the Legislative Council for the official announcement of the approval of our long awaited Local Small Commitments Allocation Grant. The grant of $60,000 will partially fund the refurbishment of our museum building. He was accompanied by Michael Pilbrow, the Labor candidate for Goulburn at the March elections,  who undertook to do whatever he could to assist the society when it had to leave the Soldiers’ Memorial Hall in February. Michael was able to obtain a promise that should the Minns’ government win the election we would be assured of funding to help secure a permanent home for our archives. Thye were accompanied by Simon Quarrell, President of yass Valley Labor. Prior to the announcement they were able to view some of treasures that will be relocated when work is completed.  A history enthusiast himself, the Honourable Member, fully appreciated the importance of the collection, not just to our local community but to the overall history of the nation. Yass Valley Council Mayor Allan McGrath was in attendance and commented on the tremendous progress the society members had made in the past ten months.

Celebrating our Irish Beginnings

Fostering international relationships through historical ties are particularly beneficial for smaller communities and the Yass and District Historical Society was honoured to host distinguished Irish visitors at its End of Year Gathering, a luncheon ‘Celebrating our Irish Beginnings’ on Wednesday 6 December.

Yass has a strong early history of Irish settlement and ongoing cultural ties celebrated in various ways. Guests were greeted by foot tapping Irish music as they entered Lovat Chapel, a building which owes its very existence to the early Irish settlers of the district.

Official guests His Excellency Tim Mawe, Irish Ambassador to Australia and his wife Ms Patricia McCarthy were accompanied by Mr Aidan Cronin, Director of the Irish Abroad Unit, Department of Foreign Affairs, Dublin and Ms Celleena Connoly-Moynihan, Second Secretary at the Embassy on their visit to Yass. They had earlier commenced their day at St Clement’s Retreat and Conference Centre, Galong where they toured the property settled by Irish convict Edward ‘Ned’ Ryan c1826 and the museum which portrays the long and multi-layered history of the site.

It was disappointing that Minister Sean Fleming TD who has responsibility for International Development and Diaspora in the Irish Parliament, was unavoidably detained in Dublin. He is now expected to visit in the new year.

Other guests were Dr Mathew Trinca, Director of the National Museum, Dr Conor McCarthy, Director of Philanthropy at the National Library of Australia and representatives of several historical and family history societies.

The luncheon was followed by three historical presentations given by Society President Cheryl Mongan, Dr Jeff Brownrigg of the Australian Studies Unit, Australian National University and Dr Richard Reid, a Life Member of the society and President of the Canberra and District Historical Society. Irish related items from the society’s collections were on display. Music for the occasion was provided by Kevin Bradley and Mary Marshall of Canberra accompanied by local musician Bridget Breen Guiney.

After a turbulent and upsetting start to the year the society looks forward to achieving several major goals including the refurbishment of the museum building to include the archives and a workspace in 2024.

Another step

Today was another significant step towards achieving the society’s goal of a new home for the archives within the museum building.

The auction to downsize the museum collection was a carefully considered decision made after months of discussions. Removal of items that have no relevance to our Collections Policy and Yass Valley allows us to make way for future items that combined with our unique archival collection contribute to the story of our local community.

Our auction was a resounding success when sixty-one bidders took less than four hours to clear all but 14 of the 342 lots on offer with most bought by locals keen to acquire some of the unusual items on offer.  Items that were passed in are a large vintage nickel framed display cabinet suitable for clothing or with shelves added for other items;  four sewing machines, including Singer, Beale and Wheeler & Wilson; antique National Cash Register; an intricate Tramp art picture frame and a Starkey’s Ginger Beer stoneware bottle in excellent condition. If you are interested please contact us at info@yasshistory.org.au

Our sincere thanks go to a great auction team – Steve and Lesley Scroope, Sam Hunter, Ian Mclean, Peter Shannon and Wayde Chalmers. A special mention to Jason Harrop for resolving our technical issues. We could not have done it without them and the members who have turned up week after week to record, sort, clean and rehouse the collection then arrange and list the various lots ready for auction.

Why are we having an auction?

We must move our archival collection into the museum by June 2024. Working with limited resources and a very tight time frame we have had to make some difficult decisions including downsizing our museum collection.

It is a decision that was not taken lightly, and we stress that ‘we are not getting rid of everything’ as some have wrongly assumed. Items large and small relative to our Collections Policy have been retained. The positive aspects of removing unnecessary objects are that we can accommodate the archives, have improved storage conditions and room to add objects that tell our local stories in a more meaningful way.

Just because an object is old does not make it valuable or important. Museums large and small have Collections Policies that guide decisions on what is collected and allows for the removal of duplicates of objects, those without provenance ( a history) and items not relevant to the collection.

Knowing the provenance of an object ie where it came from, how it was acquired, who owned it, how it was made, what it was used for and why it is important to Yass helps determine whether items are retained or disposed of. Over the years many items without this vital information have been brought to the museum, including those left at the front door with instructions to take it to the tip if it wasn’t wanted. Most of those items are damaged, incomplete or inoperable.

In a process known as de-accessioning (removal from the collection) the very few objects on loan to the museum have been returned, others have been donated or loaned to other local heritage organisations for a set period which enables the society to end the agreement or to extend the loan as it sees fit. Regrettably some items cannot be rehomed and must be disposed of and the fairest way to do this is by auction.

Auction Sale Saturday 18 November

To accommodate our archives presently in temporary accommodation we are having to dispose of de-accessioned, surplus and objects without a known provenance  in our collection. This will free up space in our building to create archival storage and a work area as well as maintaining a display area for the museum collection. There are antiques, vintage items, and collectables to sold by auction as well as several display cases.

As the sign says everything from a pipe to a pump organ!

Listed below is an overview of the 340 lots for sale, terms and conditions and answers to questions you may have. Societies are requested to circulate their members.

Auction info

October Meeting & Deferral of AGM

In lieu of the Annual General Meeting which has now been deferred until Monday 4 December we will hold a monthly meeting on Monday 9 October (due to the long weekend). Please note that we will reverse the order of the meeting with our guest speaker at 2pm, followed by afternoon tea and then a meeting top discuss amendments to our constitution and collections policy that will have to be ratified at the AGM in December.

Our guest speaker will be Dr Cameron Archer AM whose presentation is titled About Cavan and Beyond.

Cameron grew up on Brooklyn, Sawyers Gully Road near Cavan. Both of his father’s parents and grandparents had a long association with Cavan dating from the 1850s. His career has been as an agriculturist mostly at Tocal Agricultural College in the Hunter Valley where he was Principal for 28 years. Cameron is a long-time member and President of the Paterson Historical Society and has been active in the conservation of buildings in Paterson, Tocal and Belgenny Farm at Camden. He has written a number of books and presentations on environmental, agricultural and local history. His current research and book are about the Cavan/Narrangullen/The Mullion localities building on research of previous authors and researchers.

His presentation will be about his forthcoming book focussing on the life and times of those in this area until the 1950s. It will be about the families of the area past and present, their trials and tribulations with an enduring theme of resilience.

Pre-loved history and genealogy books

The donation of history and family history books is one way that you can assist in much needed fundraising for the society. Books sold at Return to Tipperary and the Christmas Markets raised considerable funds which are helping us with relocation of the collection. We are bringing together a collection of used books to be listed on our website and to sell at various events throughout the year. Many family history books are only small print runs for a limited readership and generally are not available in mainstream bookshops meaning that copies are harder to find – especially if the author did not comply with the requirements of Legal Deposit so these publications are most welcome. We would very much like to hear from you if you have books that you can donate. Please email info@yasshistory.org.au or call Cheryl Mongan 0413 312 081.

Archives relocation

Late on 31 January the Society received by email, a letter from Yass Valley Council requiring us to vacate the space that our archives have occupied in the Soldiers’ Memorial Hall for forty years to enable work to commence on re-roofing the hall. We had just nineteen days to find a new home. We have long advocated the overdue repairs and maintenance to the building but were never aware that it would be a permanent removal.

After three weeks of turmoil and upheaval for the Society we have obtained through the dedication and hard work of our local member Wendy Tuckerman, Minister for Local Government, the temporary occupation of the former ambulance station in Meehan Street. In just twenty days the premises were arranged and our only window of opportunity to have a removalist complete the three day removal of the collection to the new address were achieved. It has been a mammoth task for the archives volunteers to prepare and pack the collection ready for the move meanwhile the committee who also assisted with the packing have had a formidable list of tasks that had to be systematically worked through to ensure we have a home albeit a temporary one until the end of June 2024.

It will take us a couple of weeks to catch up on what was already in train when the notice arrived  before we can accept further enquiries. Visitation to our new premises will be only be by appointment. So please keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for further announcements.

Return to Tipperary

The incredible interest shown in this seminar held from Fri 18 to Sun 20 November at St Clement’s, Galong saw every available place booked from the time that registrations opened until it was concluded. Hosted by the Yass & District Historical Society, Family History ACT and the Canberra and District Historical Society, all who attended declared it a great success.

Thank you to all who registered and attended. It was a pity that we were unable to accommodate further numbers but that was determined by our hosts and the venue. We were fortunate to have a great line up of speakers with expertise in many fields of research that related to Irish family history. We were extremely pleased that His Excellency Tim Mawe and his wife Ms Patricia McCarthy were able to be there for the whole seminar which was opened by Yass Mayor Allan McGrath. Keynote speaker Dr Mathew Trinca, Director of the National Museum of Australia set the theme for the weekend with his presentation Why our stories matter: Seeing ourselves in Australian history.

Latest exhibition

Our newest exhibition Movers and Shakers: They made a difference was officially opened by Yass Valley Council Mayor Allan McGrath on Friday 11 March. Featuring twenty-seven local identities who went used their time expertise and talents to improve the lives of others.

In all communities there are exceptional individuals that stand out as leaders and pioneers though perhaps not recognised as such in their lifetimes. The Yass Valley residents profiled in this exhibition are representative of those who made a difference to the lives of others whether it be locally, nationally or further afield. Some lived incredibly long lives while others left us far too soon.

None started life from a position of wealth and privilege, and many were impacted by wars – either in the field or on the home front. Health care and education are fundamental to any society as is good governance and cultural pursuits, all of which are abundantly evident in the profiles featured.

This exhibition is based on objects in our collections that have been used to give a window into the lives of these locals.

Come and see who is included in Movers and Shakers – you may be surprised what these individuals did

Fossick for Fossils during the Canberra and Regional Heritage Festival

The Yass and District Historical Society is pleased to be a part of the Regional Heritage Festival from 9 April to 1 May 2022.

Upper Silurian fossil beds, Cliftonwood, Yass, c1910. [YDHS Inc]

The popular Fossick for Fossils event will run again this year as part of the Heritage Festival on Saturdays 16 April and 30 April.

The tours will take you in a self-drive guided tour on private property, approximately 10 klms from Yass to explore the fossil beds made famous by Alfred Shearsby. Tours will meet at Coronation Park, behind the Visitors Information Centre at 1.30pm with an expected finish time of 4.30pm. Sturdy footwear and a moderate level of fitness are required.

Bookings are essential by messaging 0450 338 379 or emailing peterjudithyass@gmail.com  Each tour has a limit of twenty-five participants so book early to avoid missing out.

The cost is $10 per person or $20 per family including up to two adults and children under 15 years. Tour bookings include free entry to the Yass and District Museum between 10am and 1pm on those days to see the new Movers and Shakers exhibition and to see more about Alfred Shearsby who spent years exploring the fossil beds in the Yass Valley.

The museum will open every Sunday and public holiday during the Festival from 10am to 4pm.


Our doors may have been closed but there is good news!

Our archives continue to operate receiving enquiries by email and post – please see our Archives and Research page for full details. But the good news is that we are now open on Tuesday afternoons by appointment between 2pm and 5pm. If you wish to visit, please email us yassarchives@gmail.com.au to arrange an appointment.


We are pleased to announce …

It was great news to learn that our third attempt to obtain grant funding for the installation of solar power at the museum has been successful and now installed by Yass Valley Solar.

This grant was supported by local Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain who recently visited the museum to present a framed certificate for the grant and another for a volunteers grant to instal contactless payment equipment and to provide training for our members and volunteers.


Our supporters

Opening times

Our archives are currently closed due to the relocation of the collection but we expect to resume our normal research services by mid-July. Due to ongoing building improvements personal visits to the archives are only possible by pre-arranged appointments.
Accepting online and written enquiries from mid-July 2024. Personal visits Tuesdays 2-5pm by prior appointment only Contact yassarchives@gmail.com well ahead of planned visits.

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