Guide to the Papers of Gwenda Davey


MS 9352

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

Gwenda Davey
Papers of Gwenda Davey
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 9352
1.68 metres (12 boxes)
Language of Materials
National Library of Australia


Scope and Contents

The material consists of correspondence, journal articles, drafts, seminar papers, newscuttings, publications, research material and working notes relating to Gwenda Davey's career as a lecturer, freelance writer, consultant and researcher in Australian folklore and folklife. The main projects are :Oxford Companion to Australian Folklore (1993), 'Folklife in Australia' ( PhD thesis, 1993 ) and Moe Folklife Project, 1995.

The series Oxford Companion to Folklore contains correspondence and contributions from Shirley Andrews, Frank Campbell, Nancy Keesing, John McPhee, Helen O'Shea, J. S. Ryan and Bill Wannan.

Conditions Governing Access

Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (

Conditions Governing Use

Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.

Preferred Citation

Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Gwenda Davey, National Library of Australia, MS 9352, [box number and series and/or file number]'.


The papers were purchased by the National Library from Gwenda Davey in 1999.

The recordings of the Moe Folklife Project are held in the Oral History Collection at the National Library of Australia.


Gwenda Davey has organised the material in folders by project and consultancy. The file titles and the arrangements of records within the files have been preserved by the Library. Library staff have arranged the collection into 8 series.

Biographical Note

19321932 Born in Sydney, 18 February
1952BA (Hons) in Psychology
1970Diploma in Education, Monash University
1983M.Ed., Monash University
1993PhD, Monash University

Employment history

1954-56, 1958-59, 1968-72Guidance Officer, Psychology and Guidance Branch, Education Department of Victoria
1957Primary teacher, Malvern Memorial Grammar School
1960-67Home duties
1973-84Lecturer in Psychology and Ethnic Studies, Institute of Early Childhood Development ( now Department of Early Childhood Studies, University of Melbourne )
1984-85Sessional lecturer in Child Development, Department of Paediatrics, Monash University
1985Lecturer, Department of Teacher Education, Footscray Institute of Technology, Melbourne
1986Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of B.Ed (Primary), Department of Teacher Education, Footscray Institute of Technology, Melbourne. Lecturer in psychology, multicultural and folklore studies
1986-87Member of Australian Government Committee of Inquiry into Folklife in Australia
1988Independent consultant
1989Consultant in Australian Folklore to National Library of Australia (ongoing)
1989-92Co-editor, Oxford Companion to Australian Folklore
1990Member Australian Government Consultative Committee on Cultural Heritage in Multicultural Australia
1990-92Postgraduate scholarship holder (PhD) Monash University (APRA Scholarship)
1991-92Project Manager, demonstration project in documentation of multicultural music and dance in the Monaro region (Office of Multicultural Affairs)
1992Director, Victorian Folklife Association
1994-96Coordinator, MA in Museum Studies and Cultural Policy, National Centre for Australian Studies, Monash University
1995-96Director, Moe Folklife Project, National Library of Australia and Department of Communication and the Arts
1997-98Coordinator, Graduate Diploma of Arts (Australian Folklife Studies), National Centre for Australian Studies, Monash University
1997-98Coordinator, Greek-Australian Oral History and Folklife Project, National Library of Australia
1998-99Project Manager, Bringing them Home - Oral History Pilot Project, National Library of Australia

Special Awards

1988Australian Folk Trust Major Fellowship
1989Harold White Fellowship, National Library of Australia
1990Australian Postgraduate Research Award (PhD scholarship)
1995Smithsonian Institution, Center for Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies, short fellowship
1998Awarded Medal of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to the protection and preservation of traditional folklore and folklife in Australia
1988Australian Folk Trust Major Fellowship
1989Harold White Fellowship, National Library of Australia
1990Australian Postgraduate Research Award (PhD scholarship)
1995Smithsonian Institution, Center for Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies, short fellowship
1998Awarded Medal of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to the protection and preservation of traditional folklore and folklife in Australia

Item Descriptions

Series 1. Talks, seminarpapers, journal articles, 1968-93

The series includes notes for talks and lectures and a copy of seminar papers and articles written by Gwenda Davey. See also Series 7 for other conference papers by Davey.

School performances, 1968 (File 1) - Box 1

Talks, early, 1970s (File 2) - Box 1

Talks, reviews, articles, 1973-83 (File 3) - Box 1

Talks, 1984-91 (File 4) - Box 1

'Cinderella and friends: folklore as discourse', 1980 (File 5) - Box 1

'Baby's poetry book', 1981 (File 5) - Box 1

'Games in a private world', 1982 (File 5) - Box 1

'The functions of folklore', 1983 (File 5) - Box 1

'Are nonsense rhymes for young children culturally universal ?', 1984 (File 5) - Box 1

'A wigwam for a goose's bridle', 1985 (File 5) - Box 1

'Danny Spooner at Footscray: teachers' notes', 1985 (File 5) - Box 1

'Australian folklore', 1986, 1985 (File 5) - Box 1

'Teaching folklore at Footscray', 1986 (File 6) - Box 1

'Folklife in Footscay', 1988 (File 6) - Box 1

'Australia's heritage: not just things', 1988 (File 6) - Box 1

'Nursery rhymes: a neglected study', 1988 (File 6) - Box 1

'Is there an Australian nursery rhyme', 1988 (File 6) - Box 1

'Collecting children's folklore in multicultural Australia', 1988 (File 6) - Box 1

Submission re community violence, 1988 (File 6) - Box 1

'Nursery lore and the functions of folklore', 1988 (File 6) - Box 1

'Tales of swagmen, goanna oil and elastics', 1989 (File 6) - Box 1

'Folklore in Australia', 1990 (File 6) - Box 1

'Learning how to joke: the development of pre-school children's verbal humour', 1993 (File 6) - Box 1

Series 2. Teaching programs, 1984 - 89

In 1984-85 Gwenda Davey was a sessional lecturer in Child Development in the Department of Paediatrics at Monash University. In 1985-87 she lectured in psychology, multicultural and folklore studies at Footscray Institute of Technology.

The series includes notes and course outlines for courses in children's folklore and Australian folklife and a course in child development and health.

Footscray Institute of Technology: Children's folklore, Semester 2, 1985 (File 1) - Box 2

Footscray Institute of Technology: Children's folklore, 1986 (File 2) - Box 2

Footscray Institute of Technology: Australian folklore and folklife (HE 171), Semester 2, 1986 (File 3) - Box 2

Footscray Institute of Technology: Australian folklore and folklife (HE 171), Semester 2, 1987 (File 4-5) - Box 2

Other institutions: Cultural perspectives in the Arts: literature and folklore, Melbourne College of Advanced Education, 1984-85 (File 6) - Box 2

Other institutions: Community paediatrics, Melbourne University, 1984-85 (File 7) - Box 2

Other institutions: Australian folk culture, Asian Law Centre, Melbourne University, 1988-89 (File 8) - Box 2

Series 3. 'Folklife in Australia: issues of policy and practice'( PhD, 1993 ), 1990-93

The series comprises initial outlines and proposals for Davey's thesis, drafts, research notes and journal articles. A final bound copy of the thesis is located in folder 16.

First proposals and outlines (File 1) - Box 3

What is folklore? (File 2) - Box 3

The invention of tradition (File 3) - Box 3

Imported (borrowed) traditions (File 4) - Box 3

Documentation (File 5) - Box 3

Categorisation of culture (File 6) - Box 3

The children's tradition (bibliography) (File 7) - Box 3

NESB (Non-English) folklore (File 8) - Box 3

Thesis (miscellaneous) (File 9) - Box 3

Notes and photocopies (File 10) - Box 3

Text at April 1991 (part) (File 11) - Box 3

Monash - check references (File 12) - Box 4

Thesis - references (File 13) - Box 4

Other issues (File 14) - Box 4

Examiner's report (File 15) - Box 4

Final bound copy of thesis (File 16)

Series 4. Oxford Companion to Australian Folklore, 1989-93

The Oxford Companion to Australian Folklore, (Oxford University Press, 1993) was the first major encyclopaedic study of Australian Folklore. It looked at the history of the development of folk culture in Australia and identified significant individuals, institutions and events that have contributed to its evolution.

Some of Australia's best known writers and folklorists contributed articles to the companion on a diverse range of topics. The range of topics included: Aboriginal folklife, Chinese folklore, country music, Greek shadow puppetry, Ned Kelly, nursery rhymes, patchwork quilts, gum leaf playing and wartime folklore.

The Oxford Companion to Australia Folklore was edited by Gwenda Davey and Graham Seal. Both contributed entries to the publication.

The series contains correspondence between the editors and the publishers, correspondence between the editors and contributors, lists of contributors, list of headings, draft chapters, edited chapters and book reviews.

Correspondence and discussions with Oxford University Press, 1989-92 (File 1) - Box 5

Correspondence between Gwenda Davey and Graham Seal, including some draft material, 1989-92 (File 2) - Box 5

Early notes and drafts (File 3) - Box 5

Major contributions edited by Gwenda Davey (File 4) - Box 5

Illustrations (File 5) - Box 5

Headings, list of contributors and guidelines for contributors (File 6) - Box 5

Working papers (File 7) - Box 5

List of contributors and draft chapters from Nancy Keesing (File 8) - Box 5

Form letters sent to contributors (File 9) - Box 5

Biographies of contributors (File 10) - Box 6

Contributions edited by Gwenda Davey and Graham Seal (File 11-12) - Box 6

Correspondence between editors and contributors, 1989-92 (File 13-14) - Box 6

Book reviews (File 15) - Box 6

Series 5. Moe Folklife Project, 1994-96

The Moe Folklife Project was Australia's first regional study of Australian folklife. The project was funded by the National Library of Australia, the Department of Communication and the Arts and local organisations in Moe and the La Trobe Valley, Victoria.

During 1995 the following aspects of traditional folklife were documented: music and dance; customs, celebrations and special events; children's playground games, food and storytelling, including stories about working life.

The series includes correspondence, minutes of meetings, newscuttings, research notes, administrative files, journal articles, reports, background reference material and a final edited report.

Original proposal, 1994-95 (File 1) - Box 7

Funding and finances, 1995-96 (File 2) - Box 7

Moe Advisory Committee meetings, 1994-95 (File 3) - Box 7

Information about local people and organisations, 1994-97 (File 4) - Box 7

Information, newscuttings on local places, 1994-97 (File 5) - Box 7

Publicity generated about the project, 1994-96 (File 6) - Box 7

Correspondence, 1994-96 (File 7) - Box 7

Sample copy of worksheets used during the project (File 8) - Box 7

Listing of tapes delivered to Moe Skillshare for transcription, 1995 (File 9) - Box 7

Copies of two conference papers relating to the project, 1995-96 (File 10) - Box 7

Preparation of edited report for the Internet, 1996 (File 11) - Box 7

Notes relating to Yallourn Heritage Trail, 1994-95 (File 12) - Box 7

Completed questionnaires which were placed in the Moe and Narracan News, 15 November 1995 (File 13) - Box 7

Notes for training session, 1995 (File 14) - Box 7

Final edited report of the Moe Folklife Project, 1996 (File 15) - Box 7

Research assistants - general information, 1994-96 (File 16)

Jennifer Aitken, 1995-96 (File 17) - Box 8

Robin Begalo, 1995 (File 18) - Box 8

Sally Grant, 1994-95 (File 19) - Box 8

Sally Kanellopolous, 1994-95 (File 20) - Box 8

Peter Morrison, 1995 (File 21) - Box 8

Fay Pollack, 1995 (File 22) - Box 8

Nancy Schakau, 1994-95 (File 23) - Box 8

Marie Smith, 1995 (File 24) - Box 8

Pamphlets, journal articles, government reports, newspapers, travel brochures and miscellaneous leaflets relating to Moe and the Gippsland region, 1994-96 (File 25-30) - Box 8, 9

Series 6. Consultancies, grants and scholarships, 1975-92

The series consists of correspondence, drafts, interviews, journal articles, seminar papers, work books and research notes relating to various consultancies, grants and scholarships.

The Multicultural Cassette Series was produced by Gwenda Davey while at the Institute of Early Childhood Development in Melbourne under a grant from the Australian Government Children's Commission. It consists of 26 tapes of stories, songs and rhymes in eight different languages. The consultancy for the Australian Institute of Multicultural Affairs (AIMA) resulted in the publication of a resource book titled A strange place to go: child migrants to Australia: a resource book.

Multicultural Cassette Series, 1975-79 (File 1-3) - Box 10

IYL Scholarship (International Youth Library, Munich, Germany), 1978 (File 4) - Box 10

Child migrants to Australia - AIMA report, 1981-86 (File 5) - Box 10

Folklife in Footscay, 1987 (File 6) - Box 10

Consultancy : Women in the hop growing industry, National Museum of Australia, 1992 (File 7) - Box 10

Series 7. Conferences, 1984-94

The series includes conference proceedings and papers given by Gwenda Davey.

National Folklore Conference, 1984 (File 1) - Box 11

ANZAAS Centenary Congress, 1988 (File 2) - Box 11

Forum on the collecting of folk music in Australia, (UNSW), 1988 (File 3) - Box 11

Symposium on issues in multicultural heritage management, 1990 (File 4) - Box 11

Proceedings of the 6th National Folklife Conference, 1994 (File 5) - Box 11

Series 8. Other Writings of Gwenda Davey, 1986-93

Gwenda Davey has published a number of books for children. Two of these publications, Snug as a bug and Duck under the table are collections of traditional family sayings and rhyming slang which are often used by parents to amuse and control their children.

The series includes correspondence with publishers, drafts of books, sample illustrations, galley proofs, contracts, book reviews, and royalty statements. Folder 2 also contains draft chapters for a book titled 'Possums'.

Snug as a bug, Oxford University Press, 1990 (File 1) - Box 11

Great Australian pumpkin, Houghton Mifflin, 1991 (File 2-3) - Box 12

Duck under the table, Oxford University Press, 1991 (File 4) - Box 12

Jack and Jill: nursery rhymes, Oxford University Press, 1993 (File 5) - Box 12

Play and friendships in a multi-cultural playground, Institute of Early Childhood Development, 1986 and Folklore and tourism, Centre for Australian Studies, Curtin University of Technology, 1992 (File 6) - Box 12