The final Ringwood Historical Society meeting for 2008 included two presentations, the first discussed the Australian Comforts Fund and the second included advice on the resources that are available for people interested in researching local history.
The Australian Comforts Fund was a voluntary organisation that was formed to support Australian troops serving overseas. The Australian Comforts Fund, which included divisions in each state, was federated in 1916 becoming the nation’s first federated organisation.
The activities within the Australian Comfort Fund were largely organised by women who led fundraising activities to support Australian troops during World Wars I and II. While the Red Cross assisted injured soldiers and prisoners of war, the Austalian Comforts Fund supported soldiers through providing additional food, clothing, socks and other gifts.
Local branches of the Australian Comforts Fund existed within Ringwood, Croydon and South Warrandyte. The Ringwood branch raised over 3,500 pounds before it was formally dissolved in March 1946. The branch was under the auspice by the RSL War Services Fund and heavily involved in fundraising activities including dances and raffles since the organisation had no form of government assistance. The women involved in the branch also spent many hours providing in-kind support such as knitting and packaging hampers to send to the troops overseas.
Following this presentation there was a discussion on the information sources that are available to assist in researching local and family histories. The State and National Libraries were mentioned, as were local historical societies and the archives that they retain. Council rate books, newspaper archives, records on births, deaths and marriages can also assist in research efforts.
The Ringwood Historical Society has extensive archives and its members also provide first-hand knowledge of Ringwood’s heritage. The society must be congratulated for its efforts in documenting Ringwood’s heritage and for encouraging the community to take an interest in local history.