Oral History Australia
Giving Voice to the Past

Hazel de Berg Award for Excellence in Oral History


Oral History Australia has established an award to recognise those who have made an outstanding contribution to the cause of oral history in Australia. The Award is not restricted to members of Oral History Australia. The inaugural award was presented at the International Oral History Association Conference Sydney in 2006.

To commemorate her pioneering work in oral history, the award has been named the Hazel de Berg Award for Excellence in Oral History.

The recipient shall be the nominee deemed by the National Committee of the Oral History Australia to have made an outstanding contribution to the cause of oral history in Australia over a considerable period of time.  Relevant activities are many and varied and include:

  • Promotion and raising of awareness of oral history, within the oral history profession, with historians, with organisations and within the general community.
  • Volunteer work  with communities, not-for-profit groups and with oral history associations.
  • Initiation of and contribution to oral history projects documenting Australia's past and contemporary history.
  • Recording and documentation of oral history.
  • Preservation and archiving of oral history collections.
  • Research involving assessing oral history.
  • Publication of papers, journal articles and books.
  • Education and/or teaching including conduct of seminars and workshops.
  • Mentoring
  • Such other contributions to oral history considered worthy of recognition.

Anyone can make a nomination and there is no impediment to a person nominating themself. This national award presents the opportunity to give public recognition and encouragement not only to the recipient but to the important role of oral history.

The award was named in honour of Hazel de Berg in recognition of her pioneering work in oral history. From 1957, Hazel documented Australia's social history by recording poets, novelists, historians, painters, musicians and scientists - people who were contributing to the ongoing intellectual life of Australia. A significant number of her interviews are now held in the oral history collection of the National Library of Australia as the Hazel de Berg Oral History Collection, a collection which comprises approximately 1300 hour-long taped interviews.

The De Berg family generously offered to provide the award and arranged for its design by the glass artist Brian Hirst. It is an attractive ellipsoid-shaped clear glass ornament into which aqua glass has been injected in the shape of a microphone with speech bubbles. Each award is inscribed with the recipients name and the date and accompanied by a citation.

The next Hazel de Berg Award for Excellence in Oral History will be made in 2017.  

Read About:

Winners of the Hazel de Berg
Award for Excellence in Oral History

Hazel de Berg and her passion for Oral History

2015 Winner of the Hazel de Berg Award .. Jill Cassidy

Jill Cassidy has made an outstanding contribution to the cause of oral history in Australia for almost 30 years, undertaken both in a professional and voluntary capacity.

Working at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG) in Launceston, Jill conducted oral histories which formed the basis of exhibitions to commemorate Australia’s Bicentenary in 1988. She later authored a number of publications  including  Launceston Talks: Oral Histories of the Launceston Community. As a result of the project’s success in documenting the history of northern Tasmania, Jill was appointed as the Museum’s first Oral Historian. She went on to initiate, manage and conduct further oral histories, exhibitions, publications and ran engaging and successful public programs. Jill firmly established the Museum’s collection and her commitment to recording and preserving interviews ensured the collection continued to grow and that oral history became an integral part of QVMAG exhibitions. Jill’s contribution here was exceptional. She was also a member of the Editorial Committee for The Companion to Tasmanian History.

In 1991, soon after being appointed as Oral Historian at QVMAG, Jill initiated the formation of the Tasmanian Branch of the Oral History Association of Australia, now Oral History Tasmania. She has been either branch President or Secretary since its inception, and has edited the newsletter Real to Reel for most of that time. Jill has tirelessly contributed to the promotion of oral history practice in Tasmania. She has conducted annual oral history workshops in Hobart and Launceston, along with others around the state when requested. She has given talks about oral history to many groups from historical associations to school groups and has contributed a number of oral history papers to conferences and seminars. Jill ran a local oral history symposium for Deviot – the community where she lives. She has also played a central role in the national association, as President and as the Convener of two very successful national conferences. She has been a member of the national executive since 1991.

Jill has played a central and critical role in Tasmanian oral history. She continues to be the heart of Oral History Tasmania and has generously mentored many Tasmanian Oral Historians.     

Photo:  Jill was presented with the Hazel de Berg Award by Sue Anderson, President, Oral History Australia  © ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Sandra Blamey