Welcome to HISTORICAL CHALLENGES, my internet place where I am being challenged in all sorts of unexpected ways.
I want to write a biography, a real historical challenge! As an historian I am challenged to explore the context of my subject, her family background, her influences through education, the effects of WW1 and the changing course of her life and so forth, and so forth. I have to make sense of manuscript documents – correspondence, talks and journal articles where lines are drawn through paragraphs, pages are missing and then discovered in other folders and interpreting financial documentation. As I begin placing my subject into her context I have to stretch myself into academic disciplines that I have a scant knowledge of. There is a need to revise the historiography and the theory around biography so my current reading list is like an elastic band stretching. This project is a challenge but thus far an enjoyable challenge.
My name is Yvonne Wilkie. I live in Dunedin, in the far south of the South Island of New Zealand. After 20 years, and a little more, I retired as Director of the New Zealand Presbyterian Church Research and Archives Centre in Dunedin. Previously, I taught 11-13 year olds at various Intermediate Schools in Dunedin and before that I was a mother involved in many voluntary organisations in the Hawke’s Bay.
I initially set up this blog as a means to keep members of the Presbyterian Synod of Otago and Southland up with my research for the 150th history I was writing. The blog didn’t really go far. Pressure of time was against me from the outset with a deadline of only two-half years. So it fell by the wayside. I recently completed the 150th history for the Presbyterian Synod of Otago and Southland Weaving Vision, Heritage and Hope, 1866-2016. Free copies, per courtesy of the Synod are available if you want one.
I’m going to try blogging again hopefully with more success and mainly to keep myself on ‘the straight and narrow’. This time I will chronicle my research and writing for a biography looking at Molly Whitelaw’s life and work in the Presbyterian Church in New Zealand and the religious international, the World Council of Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Pan Pacific Women’s Association.