In honour of the generous legacy gift of Griffith University alumnus and historian Robert Henry Gentle, the Harry Gentle Resource Centre will be launched at South Bank campus on Friday, April 21.
Upon his death at the age of 94, Harry Gentle donated a large portion of his estate, the largest single bequest from an alumnus, to one of Griffith University’s foundation schools – the School of Humanities, to establish a resource centre for Australian history.
The centre will focus on the range of encounters that occurred in the very formative years of colonial government in the region now known as ‘Queensland’.
The digital histories generated will include the experiences of settlers, Aboriginal resisters, diplomats who worked to foster relationships between the colonists and the Indigenous peoples and native police.
Director, Professor Regina Ganter, said the centre will provide a significant portal of previously little-known materials for researchers, teachers and history students from high school and tertiary levels.
“The centre is fostering a wide network of relationships with formal and informal history institutions, archives, local history groups and family historians.
“It will host visiting researchers and research higher degree students to contribute to the broad history of this period. It will become a rich resource for anyone interested in intercultural encounters and the earliest period of colonial settlement in Queensland.”
A mature-age student in his 60s, Harry Gentle fulfilled a life-long dream of further education with a Bachelor of Arts at Griffith University, which he completed in 1984 with High Distinctions in several subjects.
He spent his working life in public and military service with postings to Papua New Guinea, Townsville, Darwin and other parts of regional Australia. With no children, and after his wife Alice predeceased him, he wished to support the dissemination of historical research with his bequest to Griffith University.
The centre’s current digital projects include native police in the border regions that became Queensland in 1859, Brisbane policing in the 1850s and mapping the frontier wars of the 1830s-1850s.