Cover image for Historical dictionary of Australia
Historical dictionary of Australia
Docherty, J. C.
Personal Author:
Second edition.
Publication Information:
Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xlii, 425 pages : illustrations, maps ; 23 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DU90 .D63 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Volume 32 in the ASIAN/ OCEANIAN HISTORICAL DICTIONARIES series, the second revised edition of an introduction to Australia and its history from the first human settlement to the late 1990s. It is cross-referenced, contains a bibliography and is illustrated with maps.

Author Notes

James C. Docherty is an employee of the Australian Department Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, and was an Honorary Research Associate with the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University from 1990 to 1996. Before that, he worked with the Australian Dictionary of Biography at the Australian National University and at the Australian Bureau of Statistics. His publications include Selected Social Statistics of New South Wales, 1861-1976 (1982) and Newcastle: The Making of an Australian City (1983) Historical Dictionary of Organized Labor, Second Edition (Scarecrow 2004) and Historical Dictionary of Socialism (Scarecrow 1997); and he was editorial consultant and contributor to W. Vamplew, ed., Australians: Historical Statistics (1987) and to David Crystal, ed., The Cambridge Encyclopedia (1990).

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This dictionary is the first in the new Oceanian Historical Dictionaries series, following Scarecrow's series of historical dictionaries for other areas of the world. The current work is intended to introduce the reader to the history and culture of Australia, ranging in time from the first human settlement thousands of years ago to 1992. The emphasis is on the modern period, and in the alphabetic dictionary section are entries for states and territories, large urban centers, major commodities, and biographies of such individuals as John Thomas Lang and Robert Gordon Menzies. Entries range from a few sentences to more than two pages; see and see also references are interspersed appropriately. History is provided in the broad topical entries for such subjects as Sheep and Wool, Diamonds, Convicts, and Irish. In the two-page entry Women, the book relates how, until the 1830s, most European female settlers were convicts; how a shortage of women persisted until after the passing of the frontier society; and how women have pressured for such changes in the twentieth century as equality in employment opportunities, concluding with the Affirmative Action Act of 1986. Approximately one-half of the book is the dictionary portion; the remainder consists of other materials to introduce Australian history. Preceding the dictionary are outline maps and an introductory essay about the continent's physical features, peoples, economy, and politics. In the back of the book are several appendixes, beginning with a chronology ranging in time from 60,000 B.C., with the migration of aborigines from Southeast Asia to Australia, to 1992 election results. Names of all governors-general and prime ministers are listed, and several tables of historical statistics are included. A substantial appendix is devoted to the bibliography, beginning with an essay providing an overview of the literature, and then citations are organized into 15 topical sections (e.g., political biographies, travel accounts, industry histories). Compared with this new title, more comprehensive and expensive tools exist, such as the 11-volume Australians: A Historical Library. The work under review supplements ready-reference tools, such as The Far East and Australasia (23d ed.), the Australian Reference Dictionary (Oxford, 1991), and the Australian Encyclopedia (1984). The Historical Dictionary of Australia, with its readable format, is moderately priced, up-to-date, convenient to use, and appropriate for all undergraduate academic libraries as well as public libraries serving patrons interested in this continent. (Reviewed Mar. 15, 1993)

Choice Review

Among the superb reference books that provide splendid coverage for Australia are The Australian National Dictionary, ed. by W.S. Ransom (CH, Jul'89), The Australian Encyclopaedia (6th ed., 1996), and Ken Johnson's AUSMAP Atlas of Australia (1992), all world-class titles. Other reference books treating Australia (guides to the literature, specialized bibliographies, and statistical handbooks) are likewise plentiful. Although this second edition is nearly twice as long as the first, it has far fewer entries than the standard Collins Australian Encyclopedia, ed. by John Shaw (CH, Jul'85). Its scope is clearly defined: "The dictionary includes entries on all states and territories, urban centers with more than 100,000 people, leading exports, events, notable individuals, and other things that make Australia distinctive." Docherty also focuses on more recent events. Although some college and smaller university libraries might find this book a useful addition, libraries that hold the other sources will not need Docherty's dictionary. D. S. Azzolina; University of Pennsylvania