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Journey through time: Kiama welcomes war historian Dr Karl James

The Bugle App

Brooke Pittman

18 March 2024, 5:21 AM

Journey through time: Kiama welcomes war historian Dr Karl JamesDr Karl James

Kiama Historical Society hosted a talk on Saturday 16 March featuring renowned historian Dr. Karl James, the Head of Military History at The Australian War Memorial in Canberra. 

Dr James presented his talk on ‘A Day in the Life of a War Historian’ to a room full of local history enthusiasts. He shed light on his journey through high school and university in Wollongong, where he completed his honours and PhD, and later his Masters in museum studies at the University of Sydney. 

The James family have a history rooted in military service. Karl’s grandfather and nanna both served in WWII, serving as his introduction to a love of history. With a career spanning over a decade, his expertise in Australia’s involvement in the Second World War resonates among his peers and his audiences. He has risen to become a prominent figure in Australia’s historical landscape. 

Attendees were treated to a behind the scenes look into the Australian War Memorial, as Karl discussed his role as a lead curator for major exhibitions, including ‘From the shadows: Australia’s Special Forces’ as well as ‘Rats of Tobruk 1941.’ 

Karl’s talk examined the challenges and rewards of being a public historian, emphasising that there is work to be done in the industry. His passion for his work shone through and he has been working towards this role his whole life. He touched on the importance of sharing in his historian career, stating that the research is important but disseminating the information is just as important. 

Karl left the audience with a growing appreciation of the impact of historical research and storytelling and the vital work he and his colleagues carry out on a daily basis. The presentation was a great insight into our military history as a nation and Karl’s as a part of the James family. 


Kiama Historical Society holds monthly meetings, the next one is listed here