DICTIONARY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIANS 1829 TO 1914
original plan was to make the material collected through the
Western Australian Biographical Index available in an edited
form in lever-arch files with a copy held in the Battye Library,
at the Royal Western Australian Historical Society and in
some major country towns. But as the information and interest
grew it was decided it would be more economical to offer it
in published form.
Acting as general editor, Rica collected a committee of distinguished
Western Australians together including Reg Appleyard, Geoffrey
Bolton, Margaret Medcalf, Tom Stannage, Pamela Statham, and
Sandra Taylor. Sponsorship was sought and grants applied for.
The Perth Building Society became involved when they offered
the use of their typists, and in 1976 a $7,000 grant from
the Western Australian Council for the Arts made it possible
to employ a typist and researcher.
on the West Australian Biographical Index led to the publication
of a unique series of volumes The Dictionary of Western
Australians 1829-1914. Rica was compiler of volume 2,
'Bond 1850-1868', volume 3, 'Free 1850-1868', which were both
published in 1979 to mark the sesquicentenary of Western Australia.
Volume 4, 'The Changing Years 1868-1888' was published in
two parts in 1984 and 1985, and volume 5, 'The Golden Years
1889-1914' was published in 1986.
working on the Western Australian Biographical Index and the
dictionaries, interest was sparked in the men transported
to Western Australia between 1850 and 1887 and she was aware
of a reticence to acknowledge convict ancestry. Permission
was sought from the Comptroller-General of Prisons to publish
the names of convicts and any biographical information on
their files. The publication of volume 2, 'Bond 1850 to 1868'
coincided with a change in the community's attitude, with
people viewing their convict ancestors with pride rather than
as skeletons in the closet. The greatest interest in family
history in Western Australia in recent years is in the area
of convict genealogy.
When made a Western Australian Citizen of the Year in 1980,
Rica's contribution to arts, culture and entertainment was
considered diverse as a historian, author, naturalist, botanist
and artist but her greatest undertaking was seen as her work
on the Dictionary of Western Australians 1829-1914.
2 and 3 of the dictionaries were published to mark Western
Australia's sesquicentenary, it was fitting that the City
of Perth added a plaque to the 150 laid in St Georges Terrace
in 1979. These plaques were to commemorate the achievement
of significant individuals to the State, and in 1999 one was
placed on the corner of St Georges Terrace and Barrack Street
and reads 'Rica Erickson - Botany, Art, History'.