Vale Rob Linn

/ May 8, 2022/ Featured

It was with great sadness that we heard that the renowned Adelaide historian, Robert Linn, had passed away. Rob Linn was a Director of Historical Consultants Pty Ltd since 1984, a company he established with his wife, Jane.

Rob Linn graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and a Master of Arts in History from the University of Adelaide. He taught Australian History at Adelaide University, Flinders University, the University of South Australia, and the Regency College of TAFE. He was a Visiting Research Fellow in the School of History and Politics, and the School of Health Sciences at the University of Adelaide.

Rob was a committed historian and oral historian and published over 50 books, many articles, heritage surveys and major reports relating to universities, corporations, local government, state and federal government agencies, and personal histories.  He wrote the histories of many well-known and lesser known companies and organisations: Yalumba Wine Company, R.M. Williams, Sola Optical, Frontier Services, Adelaide Benevolent Society, the University of Adelaide, National Library of Australia, Coopers Brewery, Mallee Family Care, the City of Adelaide, the City of Victor Harbor, the City of Onkaparinga, Australian Society of CPAs, the Adelaide Club, the Royal Agricultural & Horticultural Society of South Australia, the Australian and New Zealand Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, ABC Rural, and the Sisters of Mercy. In particular, Rob was committed to exploring the history of rural Australia and in 2014 he published Sharing the good earth: 175 years of influence and vision: Royal Agricultural & Horticultural Society of South Australia Incorporated which met with high acclaim. The publication was based on archives and a large oral history project undertaken by Rob.

Rob won many literary awards. In 2001 his history of the University of Adelaide North Terrace Campus won the Mander Jones Award of the Australian Society of Archivists. He won the Australian Water Association Literary Award 2004 for Murray Water is Thicker than Blood: the stories of the families who made the River Murray’s locks and barrages.  He won the National Book Council’s inaugural Lysbeth Cohen Award for biography for his Nature’s Pilgrim at the National Council’s 1990 Banjo awards. His Bungaree: Land, stock and people won the Family History of the Year award in 1993. The Judges commented: “This is an outstanding work of family history … the reader’s attention is engrossed from beginning to end” Rob ensured that the large archive relating to Bungaree station was transferred to the State Library of South Australia to ensure its preservation.

Rob was an interviewer for the National Library of Australia’s oral history program and a consultant to ABC Radio National’s Social History Unit, the J.D. Somerville Oral History Collection at the State Library of South Australia, the Keith Murdoch Sound Archive, and the Australian War Memorial. Rob undertook the largest oral history project of its type in the world for the Australian wine industry – 213 hours. Assisted by the National Wine Foundation and the Winemakers Federation of Australia, the oral history interviews captured all aspects of Australian wine in living memory – from cellar, through winemaking and marketing to the restaurant.

Rob believed that history should be active, engaging and entertaining. His consultancy created exciting history trails, listening posts, and signage for cultural tourism projects. E-books, touchscreen technology, DVD and CD production and other interactive technologies were all part of his work.

Rob Linn was the consummate historian having taught in universities and TAFE, published a multitude of publications, articles and reports, undertaken hundreds of high-quality oral history interviews and won recognition for his excellent work. He loved rural Australia which permeated his output, and he worked hard to bring history alive to engage the community.

Rob made outstanding contributions to history teaching, historical research and scholarship, writing and presenting on historical topics, raising community awareness of history and heritage, and strengthening the community profile of history.  

We pass on our deepest condolences to his family.

Share this Post