Published: 05 November 2010
New book reveals a building’s unexpected past
The details of an iconic Brisbane building and its place in World War II history have been revealed in a new book.
The Forgan Smith: History of a Building and its People at the University of Queensland has been published as part of UQ's Centenary celebrations, and is written by Head of the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics Professor Clive Moore.
The book details the use of the symbolic sandstone building and how it has changed over several decades, concentrating on the period between the 1940s and 1960s.
The Forgan Smith Building forms a major part of the Great Court complex and was originally called the Main building. It was designed to impress and signify the importance of tertiary education at Queensland and the University.
The building was constructed between 1937 and 1942. It was then occupied in World War II by the Allied Advanced Land Headquarters (Landops) and served as the headquarters for General Sir Thomas Blamey before being returned to the University after the war.
“It was acknowledged that General Blamey and his headquarters were based in the building during the war, but this research has allowed us to get a much better understanding of how important the building was to the Allied fight back in New Guinea,” Professor Moore said.
As Professor Moore's research was being compiled, unexpected information surfaced.
“Women from the Australian Women's Army Service (A.W.A.S.) were the most important workers in the building during the war,” he said.
“Another interesting aspect that the book uncovers is how small the original departments of the University actually were; just a few staff who taught a wide range of courses.”
The book is published by the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics and was launched at the Alumni Reunion Weekend in July. Copies are available at the Co-op Bookshop for $29.99.
Media: Dani Lawrence (07 3365 9163, email@example.com)
About the author
Professor Clive Moore is the Head of the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics at the University of Queensland, President of the inaugural Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies (2006-2010), Member of the Boards of the Journal of Pacific History, South Pacific: Journal of Philosophy and Culture, ConCord UQ (Consortium for Community Building and Responsible Resource Development), and Co-Convener of the UQ Solomon Islands Partnership.
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