Ithaca is a small Greek island located in the Ionian Sea and is well known in Greek mythology as the homeland of the legendary Odysseys (Ulysses), King of Ithaca. Ithacans are amongst the earliest Greek settlers in Melbourne with settlement dating back to the gold rush period of the 1850s. Prior to the post WWII period of mass migration, Ithacans were the largest group of Greek residents in Melbourne. These early settlers established the Ithacan Philanthropic Society (IPS) in 1916 to fulfil a philanthropic role to its ancestral home and to its struggling immigrant compatriots in Melbourne. In the decades that followed, the focus of the Society's philanthropic purpose increasingly shifted to local charitable causes. The IPS continues today and has a membership of over 400, many of whom are second, third, fourth and fifth generation descendants of the founding fathers of the organisation.
The Ithacan Historical Society ( IHS ) was established in 1992 with the purpose of documenting the history of the Ithacan diaspora in Australia and in particular in Victoria. The IHS's collection is held at Ithaca House, the club rooms of the IPS. The collection includes a large photographic and document collection relevant to the story of Ithacan migration including arrival, settlement, economic and social life, customs and the maintenance of family ties. The Ithacan Historical Society is committed to preserving the collection for future generations by appropriately cataloguing and storing material using correct archival procedures. Much work has been done in collecting information through the recording of oral histories and the collection of information from first and second generation questionnaires completed by Ithacans and their descendants. The work is ongoing and days are set aside for members to come to the club rooms to donate items of relevance to the collection and to tell their family stories.
Ithacan Historical Society Collection
Themes: Shaping cultural and creative life, Building community life