About me

My passion for history was ignited as a young child at primary school, when I first learned about the Gold Rushes in Australia. I was captivated by this exciting period in Australia’s history when, enticed by the lure of prospective riches,  people came from all over the world to test their fortunes at the various Australian goldfields. At high school, Year 7 ‘Ancient Civilisations’ drew me into the past with its pyramids and sarcophagi and boy-princes bejeweled even in death! The history bug was biting! Year 11 History was British History and a gifted young teacher, Miss Pitt, brought to life the Tudors and Stuarts followed by a more in-depth study of Australian History at Year 12.

An Arts Degree with a Major in History, developed in me a fascination with the use of primary sources in the archive. I experimented with oral history, still in its infancy in academic institutions at the time, although it had been a hallmark of indigenous societies from time immemorial. My History Masters drew me closer to ‘the archive’ which has been central to my research, studying original documents and trying to experience something of others’ lived experiences from long ago.

Helen Stagg signing a copy of Harnessing the River Murray at her Mildura book launch, 2015

My interests are predominantly in the areas of Australian History and Public History, and in giving voice to minority groups including women, children, ordinary workers and other under-represented groups in the historical record.

My Masters Research based on the lock/weir construction gangs along the River Murray in South Australia culminated in the publication of my long-awaited book, Harnessing the River Murray: stories of the people who built Locks 1 to 9, 1915-1935. The book is available now from me via the Contact Me button or by submitting the form below.