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Guest Bios


Announcer: Head’s up, if you are Australian Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, you should be aware that this trailer contains the voices and names of deceased persons.

Tamson Pietsch: This season on History Lab we’re delving into the traces left by the law

Claude Roux: we work with a lot of shades of grey. We work with a lot of uncertainties here right from the beginning

Tamson Pietsch: And this means we’ll be looking at the ‘law’s way of knowing’

Alicia Simmonds: I think that the law is sometimes the worst place to look for the truth or is certainly not the only place…

Katherine: One thing I’ve observed is that death, money and family together are some kind of special cocktail

Tamson Pietsch: Fortunes will be made…

Samadhi: They talk about tins of gold… she used to hide her wealth in the backyard.

Tamson Pietsch: And forgotten

Actor: “Mrs Scales…  was one of the most remarkable figures in the legal history of the State”.

Tamson Pietsch:  but you’ve probably never heard of her

Samadhi: and he said “oh you know we have a psychic ancestor?” and I said what we have a what?”

Tamson Pietsch: We’ll be looking at how the law knows YOU.

Olivia Rosenmann: What exactly is a signature?

Trish: Well, the more I research signatures, the more difficult that question becomes.

Tamson Pietsch: And revisit a theft of the most intimate kind, sealed by a thumb mark and settled by the courts…

NEWS: …the decision a devastation for those determined that justice would be their’s.

News: (ABC Kerry O’Brien) After sitting for 107 days… Justice Maurice O’Laughlin dismissed the landmark compensation case based on claims relating to the removal of two children from their Aboriginal communities … in Mr Gunner’s case the Judge accepted his mother’s thumbprint as evidence she had authorised his removal…

Tamson Pietsch: And, we’ll hear about the 16 words scratched into a tractor fender by a dying man

Geoff Ellwand: he scrawled on the tractor will a very simple message “in case I die in this mess. I leave all to the wife”. And he signed it

Tamson Pietsch: that would change the way courts across the world think about what makes something a legal document

Tamson Pietsch: So strap in as we take you into places you’ve possibly never been before.

Tammy: I’d like you to shuffle these for me… just shuffle shuffle until one falls out and then stop shuffling …. I like to call these my inner purpose cards…

Tamson Pietsch:  Where we’ve definitely never been before

Xanthe: So we are going into the wet lab….

Xanthe: … pour out some of the iodine and iron zinc solution into a tray and will soak the document. We let it air dry a little bit until it no longer smells like salt and vinegar chips.

Tamson Pietsch: Now if we could only get this tape to play ….

Olivia Rosenmann: Oh shit…

Emma Lancaster: what does the beeping mean?

Tamson Pietsch: History Lab season three lands December 12. ‘The Law’s way of knowing’ is a special four-part series (with a bonus ep), where we look at histories that intersect with the law.

Claude Roux: everything leaves a trace

Tamson Pietsch: History Lab is made on the lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation whose land was never ceded.

Announcer: This award winning podcast is a collaboration by the Australian Centre for Public History, Impact Studios a new audio initiative at the University of Technology Sydney and our media partner 2SER.


Podcast playlist

September 04 · 19 MIN

Terraces, flats, squats, bedsits, mansions, towers, camps and hostels: in Darlinghurst, housing is a mixed bag. This audio story explores the range of lifestyles afforded by Darlinghurst’s dense diversity of dwellings.

Image: Pad with a View, Kings Cross 1970-71 (Photographer: Rennie Ellis © Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive)


This audio story is a production of the Australian Centre for Public History in partnership with the Paul Ramsay Foundation.

Producer: Catherine Freyne

Sound engineer: Judy Rapley



  • Jan Cornall, former resident of Darlinghurst squats
  • Paul Solomon, publican’s son and grandson
  • Phillip Adams, former owner of Stoneleigh
  • Shannon Dalton, former Assistant Manager of the Darlo Bar
September 04 · 17 MIN

At St Vincent’s Hospital, the Sisters of Charity have been delivering care to the people of Darlinghurst since 1857. This audio story visits St Vincent’s during three historic public health emergencies: the Spanish Flu, the HIV/AIDS crisis and COVID-19. 


Image: Sister and nurse with home visitation car, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney (Courtesy of the Congregational Archives of the Sisters of Charity of Australia) 




This audio story is a production of the Australian Centre for Public History in partnership with the Paul Ramsay Foundation. 


Producer: Catherine Freyne 

Sound engineer: Judy Rapley 

Music: Blue Dot Sessions; The Tudor Consort licensed under CC by 3.0  

Archival: ABC Content Sales 



  • David Polson, former patient at Ward 17 South at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. 
  • Erin Longbottom, Nursing Unit Manager, Homeless Health Outreach Service, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. 
  • An excerpt from St Vincent’s Hospital Annual Report 1919 read by Marie Freyne. 
September 04 · 22 MIN

In the rapidly gentrifying Darlinghurst of the 1980s, a turf war raged over one of its earliest trades. In this story, we visit the street corners and safe houses where sex workers competed for customers, looked out for each other and stood their ground. Along the way, veterans of the street-based trade describe a changing industry, sharing stories from the frontline of the fight for law reform and workers’ rights. 


If you would like to sign the petition to bring the statue of Joy back to Darlinghurst, visit 


Image: Woods Lane 1968 (Tribune negative; Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales courtesy SEARCH Foundation) 




This audio story is a production of the Australian Centre for Public History in partnership with the Paul Ramsay Foundation. 


Producer: Catherine Freyne 

Sound engineer: Judy Rapley 

Music: Blue Dot Sessions 

Archival: ABC Library Sales 



  • Julie Bates, veteran sex worker activist; Principal of Urban Realists Planning and Health Consultants. 
  • Chantell Martin, veteran sex worker; Co-CEO of Sex Workers Outreach Project. 
History Lab

Team & Credits