Image: Peter Hoare researching and studying images from the Saumarez Homestead’s White family collection.

For many retirement is a chance to follow their passions, for UNE Master of History graduate Peter Hoare, it means beginning a study journey to explore his lifelong interest in history and research.

When describing what led him to study at UNE Peter responded that his love of history and the opportunity to move to Armidale were strong driving forces. “I retired about 2009, and then I had this chance to come to Armidale and I saw this as an opportunity to follow my interest in history. It has been great to be able to do it. It has been really rewarding, particularly doing original research.”

Peter began studying with UNE in 2016 when he started his Graduate Diploma in Local Family and Applied History, which he completed in 2018 and rolled seamlessly on to study his Master of History. Peter completed the Master earlier this year, which involved a rather significant research project.  

Peter’s Masters research was largely concerned with local history, particularly his research into the White family photographic collection from the Saumarez Homestead near Armidale.

“The collection consists of over 3000 photographs that were taken between approximately 1870 to 1940.” In the Saumarez Homestead’s long and storied history it was eventually bought by the White family, for whom Peter’s research revolved around.

“I have taken one of the five daughters, Frieda White, she was the fourth daughter of Francis John White. I decided to see if I could use the photographic collection to reconstruct the life of someone who wasn’t very well known. The background was very well known, but not so much this particular lady. Frieda was one of the White daughters, during WW1 she became a voluntary aid nurse here in Armidale, and then she went to Sydney, with her families blessing and in 1925 she married John Kullen.”

“I used the photographs, but they weren’t a complete collection of her life, there were no photographs of her when she lived in Sydney or of her marriage, and the only photographs of her life after that was when she came up and visited home. So I had to try and reconstruct further information of her life using her birth, marriage and death certificate, and oral history from her daughter who is about 92 now. I also had to use the diaries of her father and we actually disproved one of the myths that none of the family attended Frieda’s wedding – they did because there is the information from his diaries that he did attend. So I was able to reconstruct her life in a long winded way.”

Peter has always been interested in family history, in fact he has been a genealogist since 1969 and following his Masters he says he would like to continue his study aspirations, and to continue researching at the Saumarez Homestead and beyond.

While you might imagine that delving into his love of history has been the most enjoyable part of Peter’s studies, you would only be partially correct as he says that working with his supervisors has also been a major highlight.

“When I came here I found Nathan Wise to be excellent, Richard Scully was very good, and particularly Andrew Piper who helped me through COVID last year and helped me to keep going. They and also Bill Oates are the reason I am graduating… I did a bit of work of course, but that encouragement has been so important.”

“What has also been enjoyable is being part of the history community, the family history with Saumarez and the locality. It has been encouraging and I’ve actually been excited to use my personal interests.”

Peter recently received the Trust Commendation Award from the National Trust for his service and research involving the Saumarez Homestead. This award has meant quite a lot to Peter as it recognises the fantastic passion that he has put into his research and work. In his own words “it has been a great honour to me. It is recognition of guiding research and interest in the Saumarez Homestead. It is also an encouragement to continue the research.”

Peter is one of the many students who completed their studies in early 2021 and is eagerly awaiting the chance to attend an on-campus graduation, where he plans to celebrate his studious achievements which all began with his passion and love for history.

When he isn’t reconstructing history through his research, Peter is a prolific volunteer helping and volunteering at the local Anglican Church in West Armidale – and when he isn’t volunteering Peter appreciates the finer things in life such as travel and reading Clive Cussler novels. 

The images below form part of the White family photographic collection. These were placed in family albums at the Saumarez Homestead. They now are located in the UNE Heritage Centre in Armidale.