The Foundation was established in 1987 with encouragement from the Minister for Education of the time and with initial sponsorship from the Public Education Endowment Trust, its purpose to promote knowledge of Western Australian history. Subsequent corporate donations have increased the Foundation’s funds which are invested and used to fulfill the Foundation’s objects.

What has the Foundation done to date?

The Foundation’s first major project, in 1988, was a package of primary source and stimulus material on Western Australian history for use in years 8-10 of secondary education, comprising a booklet [From the Sources ] and a video [The Great Western Australian History Caper]. It was completed in 1991 at a cost to the Foundation of approximately $70,000, and 500 sets of the booklet were produced and sold. From 1991 to 2000, annual small grants were the Foundation’s major activity. In all, 89 grants were made to a total value of $242,226.

These grants funded or part-funded:

19Book Publications3Research Equipment
16Book Manuscripts3Radio Programs
10Oral History Projects3Brochures / Booklets
10Bibliographies / Research Guides2Preservation Projects
6Educational Kits2Journal Issues
6Museum / Heritage Exhibitions2Conferences / Seminars
6Photographic Exhibitions1Historic Ballet
5Videos1Replica Project

The Foundation has also awarded prizes for the best Western Australian history book by a new author and in 1998 established a publication award in conjunction with University of Western Australia Press. The biennial WAHF Award provided a book publication subsidy for the best manuscript in the area of Western Australian history. Mary Anne Jebb was the inaugural winner, her manuscript being subsequently published as Blood, Sweat And Welfare: A History Of White Bosses And Aboriginal Pastoral Workers (2002). The 2003 Award was won jointly by Dr Criena Fitzgerald and Dr Andrea Gaynor. Two publications resulted: Criena Fitzgerald, Kissing can be dangerous: the public health campaigns to prevent and control tuberculosis in Western Australia, 1900-1960 (2006) and Andrea Gaynor, Harvest of the Suburbs: an environmental history of growing food in Australian cities (2006).

In 2004-05 the Foundation assisted the establishment of the History Council of Western Australia, convening meetings of all those interested in the proposal, funding a visit by Dr Shirley Fitzgerald, former president of the History Council of New South Wales, to inform and advise on the proposal, and providing financial assistance to enable the new Council to establish itself.

In 2009 the Foundation established a new competitive grants program to assist Western Australian history projects of a range of kinds. Funds allowing, the program is intended to be an annual event.