Rosalind Lindsay interview, 15 October 2013 and 25 October 2013

Dublin Core


Rosalind Lindsay interview, 15 October 2013 and 25 October 2013


Save the Children Book Sale


Rosalind Lindsay was born in England in 1935 and came out to Sydney, Australia in 1959. She met her future husband, David Lindsay in Camden, New South Wales. They married in 1961 and moved to Perth on 2 January 1967 when David got a job at the Department of Agriculture at UWA. The first interview discusses university housing at Arras Street, Hollywood, the Tuart Club, the Newcomers Committee, study leave and the beginnings of the University Branch of the Save the Children Book Sale. The second interview discusses the Book Sale in more depth. 2014 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Save the Children Book Sale.


Lindsay, Rosalind


University of Western Australia Historical Society


Copyright holder University of Western Australia


MP3 files


Oral History

Oral History Item Type Metadata


Julia Wallis


Rosalind Lindsay


Shenton Park, W.A.


Interview 1: 43 hours 56 seconds
Interview 2: 1 hour 33 minutes 2 seconds
Total: 2 hours 16 minutes 58 seconds

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbs

Time Summary

Interview 1

Track 1
00:00 Introduction by Julia Wallis

Track 2
00:00 Born Rosalind Catherine Creese in Hounslow, Middlesex, UK on 27 June 1935. Evacuated to Cardiff for six months during the War. Came home at Christmas 1944. Did 11+ at Gumley House, Isleworth. Started nursing. Did some clerical work. Then decided to learn more about agriculture.
02:46 Worked on a farm in Hampshire for a year. Then attended Hampshire Farm Institute. Worked on two or three farms doing dairy work and then decided she wanted to travel.
04:04 Booked a passage on The Southern Cross, which travelled to Sydney via Fremantle. Her mother had a cousin living in Sydney but she had always been intrigued by Australia.
05:40 She called into the Department of Agriculture and asked for a job in agriculture in Australia. She was sent to see Dr M.C. Franklin who worked with CSIRO and was setting up a meat research laboratory at the University of Sydney farm in Camden. The farm was used by the university veterinary students for their practical work. CSIRO was also setting up various research units into dairying, meat and poultry. Rosalind lived in a hostel that housed the vet students for their 6 months practical.
07:06 She met her future husband, David Lindsay, who was working as a postgraduate at the sheep research block which was attached to the University of Sydney.
07:58 She was made very welcome by Dr Franklin who lived with his family in Cobbitty, a little village outside Camden.

Track 3
00:00 David and Rosalind married on 24 June 1961 at St Paul’s Church in Cobbitty. David had come from a dairy farm at Dapto south of Wollongong. He carried on with his research work and finished his PhD. Their eldest son was born on 1 July 1962.
02:00 After his PhD had been accepted, the family moved to Pullman, Whitman Country, Washington, USA for a postdoctoral year. They were living there when President Kennedy was shot on 22 November 1963. Their second child, Kate, was born during in December 1963.
03:13 They returned to Sydney but it was difficult to get funding for animal agricultural research work. There was a problem with the fertility in ewes in Western Australia and David got the job at UWA as his specialist field was reproductive physiology. Professor Robinson who was David’s PhD supervisor was a graduate of the University of Western Australia and a friend of Professor Reg Moir who was not then a Professor but was working in the Animal Science Department with Professor Underwood.
05:22 They arrived in Perth on 2 January 1967 with three children and were met at the airport by the Moirs and taken to their house for lunch. The airport was very rural! They were booked into the Captain Stirling Hotel for a few days.
06:12 They found a University house that had been recently vacated at 3 Arras Street. Their furniture was on the way over from the eastern states. They were able to borrow some from people in the Animal Science Department but quite a lot from the Tuart Club Newcomers Store. It was a simple house that was built just after the Second World War. {Arras Street had been subsumed by Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital but it ran off Monash Avenue just before Hospital Avenue} Similar houses still exist in Parkway. The University also bought some private houses as temporary housing for overseas and interstate staff in the late 1970s.
09:14 The housing was provided for a year to give people a start. The Lindsay’s moved to Broadway, Nedlands in order to be close to the University and so that David could ride his bicycle to work. They moved to Shenton Park in 1974.
10:10 The Tuart Club also had monthly meetings and a Newcomers Club that did informal activities. Having young children, Rosalind could not always attend these evening activities. They also held activities in the day time such as coffee mornings and things at weekends that would involve the whole family.
11:13 The Lindsays and their children made friends with the families that lived in houses that backed onto their garden in Arras Street. The children went to the University kindergarten run by Dr Little and later to Nedlands Primary School.

Track 4
00:00 Rosalind did visit David at work. In fact, wives were encouraged to be interested in their husband’s work. The Series Club was a social club for the Animal Science staff and their wives. They had dinner parties at each other’s houses and arranged social events.
02:03 When they took the 4th year students on a farm tour it meant the staff already knew each other. There was a strong link between the University of Western Australia and the Western Australian farming community. It was a better relationship than that in New South Wales.
04:04 The University of Western Australia staff in Agriculture would often be up early and work late due to their type of work.
04:54 The Music Department were also very active in the community. Then the Festival of Perth became the University of Western Australia outreach. Rosalind thinks that the people of Perth feel some ownership of the University which was not the case in Sydney.
06:09 The Tuart Club had started before World War II. They had an Open House at one of the houses in Dalkeith each year. The Club made sure that every newcomer felt welcome and what services were available. In the days before Google their expertise was invaluable to new people.
07:53 There was also a welcome party that was held on behalf of the Vice Chancellor. It was held in February or March and people who had arrived in the last 6 months were invited. It was generally a cocktail party that would be held in the Sunken Garden.
08:33 Gradually the population was changing. More women were working and wives of the Vice Chancellors had ideas to do things differently.
08:56 The good thing about the cocktail party was that you would meet new people from all over the University.

Track 5
00:00 If you were interested you soon found yourself part of the Newcomers Committee. Rosalind became involved with the Newcomers Store. It was open one day a week but she also had the key so she could assist new arrivals on an ad hoc basis.
01:20 They also had Newcomers Coffee Mornings. There was a book group. They met in the Child Study Centre and at each other’s houses. There was a rule not to “out-cake” the last hostess!
02:47 There was a Wildflower Group. They would visit Kings Park and local native gardens from March to October. They would also have more far-flung excursions.
03:38 The monthly meetings offered an interesting speaker, such as Jeremy Green from the WA Museum who spoke about Dutch shipwrecks. The meetings would be held on campus in different faculty lecture theatres.
04:22 The interest groups would report what had happened during the year at the AGM.
05:36 In the early sixties it was suggested that a charity event be held rather than just social activities. Miriam Cooper was one of the early people behind this idea. They didn’t have a book sale at first. They started off a Save the Children Interest Group and sewed pyjamas to donate or other goods. They had concerts to raise money. Also a brass rubbing display.
07:12 Study leave was an important part of university life and academics were encouraged to go overseas every 7 years in order to bring back fresh ideas. The Lindsay’s went to France to their equivalent of CSIRO.
09:58 Going overseas also helped to revitalise the Tuart Club. The brass rubbings were an example of this.
10:46 There was also a painting exhibition.
11:06 Books were suggested as something else that could be sold to generate money as well as cakes. It took off. The first store was in Waratah Avenue.

Interview 2

Track 1
00:00 Introduction by Julia Wallis

Track 2
00:00 Rosalind was involved in the Save the Children Book Sale after the 1970s but used to drop books off before that to the garage at the back of a house in Bruce Street owned by the Edmonds family where they would be sorted and stored. Dr Edmonds was part of the medical faculty. His family have been involved since that time.
01:10 Due to the oversupply of books, the University was approached and agreed to offer a University owned house in Myers Street which was to be demolished at some stage.
01:47 The University made available the grounds truck for moving books from storage to the sale at the Undercroft.
02:27 Appeals for books were made around the campus, Uni News, the local press and sometimes in The West Australian.
03:10 The sorting was done between Christmas and the book sale in July at that stage. After the book sale was over not many books were received. People were tired and gearing up for the holiday season. Also, the South of the River branch of Save the Children had a book sale associated with Murdoch and Curtin Universities after the University of Western Australia sale and they didn’t want to take books that should be going to that sale.
04:04 People who came to the book sale would tell their friends and their friends would offer books. The university switchboard would field these calls for them and tell them the dates of the book sale. Books would be piled up outside the door as the sorting place was not manned all week.
05:18 Soon they needed more room and the university offered the use of the back of Shenton House. Then they moved to one of the university houses in Arras Street. It had a protected veranda and reasonable access.
06:12 The University was very generous in assisting with the Save the Children Book Sale. Perhaps they thought it was good PR? They assisted with housing the books and with little things that cropped up along the way. Later on, they allowed a banner to be erected at the front of the campus at the Stirling Highway intersection with Winthrop Avenue. The theatres administration took responsibility for the bookings on campus and the staff their assisted as well. The theatre staff assisted with ensuring that there was Public Liability Insurance.
07:57 The book sale had been held at the Undercroft for many years. At first it was a stall in Waratah Avenue and St Catherine’s College but this space was not large enough.
08:38 The book sale is well and truly part of the university calendar but permission is requested to hold the book sale each year. The sale was in July when the university operated under terms. With semesters, the book sale moved to August. It is a date that does not interfere with the university exams.
10:35 Chess Removals have been helping for quite some time with the set up for no charge.
11:33 There is a plan of what books go where. It has altered a bit over the years to reflect changing times but they try not to change things too much as regular attendees like to go to where they think their particular stand will be located. It also makes it easier for the helpers if things don’t change too much. The Australiana collectors tend to get there on the first night and those books sell very quickly.
12:19 There is a team of people who set up. If the sale opens on Friday evening, things are being brought across on Wednesday afternoon. Signs are put up on Thursday morning and a team of people bring the books in on Thursday afternoon. The remainder of the books are brought in on Friday. They are normally all unpacked by Friday lunchtime.
13:13 In earlier years, graduate students were paid as labour at the Depot. The team needs to be strong and prepared to work hard. Trolleys can be used in the Undercroft. The books are now stored at the corner of Underwood Avenue and Brockway in Floreat. At one stage the books were stored in the old Zoology Department near St Georges College. Every box of books is marked with their category.
14:57 Recently students have been volunteering to help as this gets accredited on their student record for community work. In 2013 people from the University Camp for Kids helped. They were given a donation. Somebody on the SCF Committee has made it their job to liaise with the students and have a stall on Orientation Day.
16:34 Rosalind liaised with the post graduate volunteers for several years. Notices were put up around campus and at the Guild seeking help. A list of interested people would be made and be handed to the Convenor. It worked very well. It was a sort of quid pro quo for all the assistance given by UWA.
17:41 At the depot, donated books are unpacked and sorted quickly. Books that cannot be sold are recycled. The books are then boxed to be categorised by the volunteers. As well as Australiana and Western Australian interest, there are hardback and paperback fiction, biography and speciality subjects. There are a lot of researchers who attend the sale to pick up books about Western Australia.
19:56 They try to make sure the books are all in good order as there is not enough room. Third copies that aren’t in such good condition may be sold for less money around the metro area.
20:45 Some people who are specialists in their field help to categorise the books and decide whether they should even be in the sale. Some of the Committee have become knowledgeable over the years and have used catalogues from second hand book dealers to increase their knowledge.
22:18 The book are priced and packed into boxes. They are now using Baxter boxes that are used by the hospitals. Previous to this wine cartons were used! The boxes mustn’t be over filled for health and safety reasons. They must be not more than 15 kg.
22:43 Towards the end of the sale boxes are books are sold.

Track 3
00:00 Pricing is crucial which is where the specialist marking is essential to not undervalue or overvalue. Car manuals can be very valuable even if they might not be in such good condition.
02:46 Sometimes new people work with a specialist to increase their knowledge. In the early days, Mrs Trish Benwell and Cath Prider used to price the Australiana and Western Australia books. They got quite competitive! They studied catalogues and visited book shops around town to increase their knowledge.
03:44 It was soon realised that they needed other categories. Sometimes a category is subdivided such as Hobbies into Embroidery and Carpentry. Similarly with languages.
04:52 Some people on the committee have made dividers for the table and table ends to keep the books tidy. If it is well organised people don’t feel so overwhelmed by the amount of books and leave.
06:19 The university has decreed that only a certain number of people can be in the Undercroft so there is a crowd control person and people have to queue too, only so many are allowed in at a time. Similarly only so many trestle tables are allowed inside the space so that there is enough room to move and browse either side of the aisle.
07:44 Managing the queues at the cash desks is also a fine art. Plastic fencing is used to keep the queue visible and tidy. There are a lot of people whose job is to add up the boxes and give people a docket to take to the cashier which is more efficient. People pay by cash or by EFTPOS. A power cut would be a disaster if the EFTPOS machines wouldn’t work as people expect to be able to pay this way.
09:47 Personal cheques are not encouraged as there have been cases where cheques have bounced. With EFTPOS people get a receipt. Some people also want to have a hand written receipt for tax purposes.

Track 4
00:00 The books are priced in pencil on the inside cover. Paperback fiction is priced at a third of the retail price, say approx. $6 if it looks new. It is harder to adhere to this rule with the downturn in the book shop market and the advent of pop-up bookshops. Another concern is the advent of Kindles and iPads which enable the use of e-books.
03:07 Paperback fiction is never priced too high. Reference books need more specialist knowledge as to whether they are set books or not.
03:58 There is a section of rare and valuable or old and valuable books which usually sell out first. It is important for people to have complete sets of books. Their knowledge is priceless for the running of the book sale. Surplus paperback fiction can be placed on this table as these books are normally sold out by Sunday lunchtime.
05:08 The sale is carefully monitored for people who might be trying to alter the price or do something dodgy. If a book is priced into double figures it is best to have that price written in words and numerals (i.e. $10 ten dollars).
06:07 There is no cross-referencing system of the pricing such as a typed catalogue of the books on sale. This might be done for some categories in the future. Rosalind does make a note in her notebook of unusual items that come in and what price they are sold for.
07:07 Some books come into the sale every year such as A Fortunate Life which is very popular. Unusual books or ground-breaking books retain their value.
08:13 To do a guide list or catalogue would be a huge job but this might happen if more books are sold online. Save the Children Australia would like to do this. This might widen the book sale audience to the whole of Western Australia.
10:53 People enjoy coming to the book sale as they enjoy visiting the UWA campus. It has become a tradition. Coffee is available during the week at the Hackett Hall Café. A recent innovation within the last 15 years has been the tent set up by a northern suburbs scout group who sell sausages and beverages at the weekend during the book sale. This has added to the atmosphere. The book sale volunteers also use this service.
14:12 When the book sale started it wasn’t over as many days. (In fact in 1970 it was over 2 days). Opening on a Friday night has been very popular.
15:00 There is a special category of children’s books which are very carefully sorted into age group. There are priced realistically.
15:55 Only magazines are priced at 50 cents each as it is too difficult to cope with the change so most of the books are priced in whole dollars.
17:10 Half price day is on Tuesday. On Wednesday (the final day) there is a special offer of so much for a box of books. It is preferable to clear the stock rather than have to take boxes of books back to the depot.
18:10 In the future they may be a special day or time set aside for a children’s book sale. The main problem is space. The consensus now is to make do and things that can’t be fitted into the space must be sold elsewhere.
19:07 They receive a lot of ephemera such as theatre programmes. These are difficult to price, display and sell so much of this is taken to specialist book fairs in the Perth metro.
20:36 One or two members sell books at a stall at the Hyde Park Festival. These are generally books that they have an oversupply of.

Track 5
00:00 Publicity is not an easy task. There is internal publicity within UWA. Posters are also sent to the local libraries and dropped off at the State Library. They are sent to the local papers. There are also paid advertisements sent to some publications to ensure that something is advertised with all the days and times.
03:30 Visiting celebrities such as Amanda Muggleton have been photographed to advertise the sale while promoting their own show.
04:03 For 5-6 years, the ABC has broadcast live from the book sale on Saturday morning. They talk about it in the week leading up to it. Even before this, Peter Holland would promote it on the afternoon session.
05:53 They try to have a Publicity Officer as this is such an important aspect to the success of the book sale. It is a skill. Using the internet has become an important aspect today. There have to be public interest stories to capture the imagination.
06:54 People who drop off books are given notices to take away to promote the sale. The artwork for the leaflets used to be done by Kyra Edmonds’ granddaughter. Cara’s daughter Margaret Setchell and her husband Paul have been supporters and or office bearers over the years.
08:23 There is a SCF Committee with a President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary and general committee members. Not everyone on the committee all the time would be totally hands-on with the sale.
10:37 Save the Children has a manual which the WA branch has adopted by degrees that covers advice on volunteers. Prior to that much of their business was based on the constitution for the Tuart Club which gave guidelines for the AGM, the auditing etc.
11:28 There was an exercise book where procedures and tips on running the book sale were written down. This has now been typed up. After the sale there is a debriefing session. At this time the Secretary will ask the University if the event can be run again next year and sends out thank you letters.
13:51 There are not formal elections but there is an election and people are asked if they are prepared to stand and new people are nominated to vacant positions. They don’t have a competition for committee places which would entail a ballot.
15:02 Forward planning is considered. Sometimes it is necessary for long-term people to step down from the committee in order to encourage new people to join.
16:00 Not everyone can sort books as the dust is troublesome to their health but there are many other roles.
16:44 Committee members are successfully encouraged to join through advertising in Uniview. They encourage people to come to a meeting to see what goes on and meet people. Sometimes people offer to help at the book sale. 4 or 5 meetings are held each year to plan the book sale on top of the AGM meeting. The meetings are usually held on Tuesday lunchtime at the book house.

Track 6
00:00 People who have been involved in the Save the Children Fund book sale over the years.
06:33 The booklet written by Sue Graham-Taylor needs updating now. The archives are in a cupboard at the book house. They have been sorted and listed by archivist Wendy Robertson. They probably need to be moved to the UWA campus.
07:59 The money raised by the book sale is given by cheque to head office. For many years they were allowed to nominate projects with which they would like to be associated. Between 1/4 and 1/3 of the money raised is spent in Australia. There are many projects happening in Western Australia.
09:54 Members are welcome to visit SCF projects. The Australian SCF groups now tend to support the Pacific Rim countries rather than Europe. One or two members have been to Lao PDR.
11:40 SCF ran Out of School Care at Lockridge
13:11 There is another project running at Armadale. There have been visits organised to see the work here where new arrivals are cared for while the mothers can learn English. A small group are taken shopping to help with living in a community. There are a lot of projects in the Kimberley or other remote places in WA.



Lindsay, Rosalind, “Rosalind Lindsay interview, 15 October 2013 and 25 October 2013,” UWA Historical Society: UWA Histories, accessed July 13, 2024,