Welsby Library (History Society of Queensland)

Welsby Library (History Society of Queensland)

Name: Welsby Library (History Society of Queensland)

Group: Institutional Location

Type: Public Library

Years at Location: 1934-1941; 1947-1973

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Although the Society began as an amateur organisation at the very time history began professionally at the new University of Queensland (1911), it had been a significant meeting place,, important for all the major Queensland historians. At times there was a struggle in the public discourse to express the discipline. Among the foundation members of the Society were Alexander Clifford Vernon Melbourne, lecturer and later associate professor of history; Henry Alcock, lecturer and later professor of history; and Frank Cumbrae-Stewart, foundation registrar, librarian and professor of law. The Society’s journals, what is today ‘Queensland History Journal’, had a varied format and print history. The Society languished in the late 1920s and into the 1930s, the journal was not published from 1929 to 1936.

Impact on Brisbane Society

The Welsby Library began as the collection of the Historical Society of Queensland, which began in 1913. Thomas Welsby was a foundation member of the Society who served as a councillor, vice-president and president. During his life he donated many letters, newspaper cuttings, documents, scrap books, and copies of his published books and in his will he made a bequest of his library of more than 2,000 volumes. The Society’s library was amalgamated with the Welsby collection and was opened as the Welsby Library on 15 March 1947 in Newstead House.

In August 1913 the inaugural meeting of the Historical Society of Queensland, chaired by the Governor, Sir William MacGregor, was held at the Albert Hall. MacGregor presented his paper, “Methods of Historical Research with special reference to Australia”.


Peter Biskup, “The Politics of Preserving the Past: The Early Years of the Historical Society of Queensland,” (1988) Royal Historical Society of Queensland Journal, Vol. 13, No. 8, p 289 Official website ; Retrieved on 1 June 2019].

Image Citations

Newstead House. Archive: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #67825