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18 April 2012

Photo: Lauren Black  Defence Digital Media  © Commonwealth of Australia
Photo: Lauren Black Defence Digital Media © Commonwealth of Australia

Historians will attend Anzac Day ceremonies throughout Australia and around the world to document the changing significance of Australia’s national day of remembrance.

In the lead-up to the centenary of the first landing at Gallipoli, the Anzac Day at Home and Abroad: A Centenary History of Australia’s National Day project is part of the preparations to mark the 100th anniversary of Anzac Day in 2015.

Lead investigator for the project and Chair of Monash University’s History and Australian Studies at the National Centre for Australian Studies Professor Bruce Scates said the project aims to provide a better understanding of how the day has changed over the years.

“Anzac Day is very different now to what it was in 1916, and how we commemorate Anzac Day differs between the city and country and across different regions, and in the very different cultural landscapes of Australia and New Zealand,” Professor Scates said.

The 'History of Anzac Day' team (responsible for the project) is based at Monash University but also includes representatives from universities, archives and cultural institutions across Australia. It also features the work of scholars in New Zealand, Singapore, Turkey, France, the UK and the USA.

“We hope Australians across the country and throughout the world will add their voice to the bank of knowledge we are developing on the meaning and importance of Anzac Day,” Professor Scates said.

“We want to encourage all Australians to join us in our quest as we investigate the changing nature of Anzac Day commemoration. We are interested in what everyone has to say.”

The researchers will create an historical record outlining the 100 year history of Anzac Day, as well as a major public exhibition offering snapshots of how the day has been commemorated.

This year researchers will attend Anzac Day services in various cities and towns throughout Australia as well as England, Singapore, Scotland, France and New Zealand to record and collect the recollections and personal stories of those present. Several PhD students will walk commemorative sites like Kokoda in the company of Australian pilgrims and gather a lasting record of their testimony.

The project is being undertaken by researchers from Monash University, Curtin University, the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, Deakin University, the University of Glasgow, Yale University, the University of Paris, Historial de la Grande Guerre, Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University, Ghent University, the National Museum of Australia, the Royal Returned Services Association, Aotearoa/New Zealand and the National Institute of Education, Singapore.

The project is funded by the largest grant ever awarded by the Australian Research Council to a humanities research project and is supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Museum of Australia, Legacy, the Shrine of Remembrance, the National Archives and King's College London. 

The Anzac Day survey can be found on the Monash website.

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