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Curtin University
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library
Curtin University Library

JCPML Visiting Scholars

The John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library (JCPML) Visiting Scholar program is designed to encourage research on John Curtin and the use of the JCPML Archival Collection. The program has been successful, with research resulting in the publication of several books, the production of an award winning play, the creation of online resources for the JCPML website and the presentation of public lectures by historians and academics.

2015 JCPML Visiting Scholar

The JCPML took a new approach to the Visiting Scholar program in 2015 by seeking applications. Julie Woodland, a former member of the Curtin Library staff was the successful applicant.

Julie has worked in libraries and research support since 1987, gaining qualifications in arts, information studies, business and health. She introduced many international visitors to the north-west through her adventure tourism company in the 1990s, and more recently, worked as a registered nurse in a remote Kimberley town.

The focus for the 2015 JCPML Visiting Scholar Program was the development of a geolocation project using a social networking site to create an image rich online resource. The aim of the project was to improve the discovery and the promotion of the “North West Journey” from the McCallum collection.

The project used date and location information, historical documents and photographs from the McCallum collection, a written narrative to provide context for the items and the development of a website to assist discovery of the collection.

The Alexander McCallum North West and Kimberleys Tour provides a useful resource for those wishing to travel the same route as Alexander McCallum and his party, without the heat, sweat and threat of crocodiles.


2014 Professor Deborah Gare

Professor Deborah Gare is a Professor in the School of Arts and Sciences, and leads the History program at the University of Notre Dame. Professor Gare is the author or editor of several leading works, including Making Australian History: The politics of the past since 1788 (Cengage, 2008). Her research interests are, broadly, Australian, Western Australian and Empire history. In particular, Professor Gare is currently writing a history of women in Fremantle and a biography of Mary Ann Friend (1800-39). She was previously a Research Associate at Curtin University, a Visiting Fellow of the University of British Columbia and a Visiting Scholar at the University of Manchester. Professor Gare has a strong interest in teaching and learning within the Humanities and represented the Deans Council (DASSH) in the ALTC project which developed graduate standards for the discipline of History.

Professor Gare conducted research at the JCPML during September 2014 and presented her findings at her lecture 'Curtin’s First War' in November 2014. Professor Gare focused on Curtin and the Great War, his imprisonment and move to WA.

2013-2014 Dr Toby Davidson

Dr Toby Davidson is Lecturer in the Department of English at Macquarie University. Dr Davidson is the great grandson of John Curtin, an Australian poetry researcher and editor who published his first book Christian Mysticism and Australian Poetry in 2013.

Dr Davidson will visit the JCPML to conduct his research and present his findings at the Visiting Scholar Lecture in April 2014. He will shed light on the relationship between John Curtin and poetry, taking into account poetry volumes in Curtin's personal library, interviews in which Curtin discusses poetry as 'good for the soul', the citation of Australian poetry in Curtin's speeches and the Curtin Family members, especially Abraham Needham and Elsie Macleod, who were poets in their own right.

Dr Davidson’s Lecture ‘Good for the Soul: John Curtin’s Life with Poetry’ was held on Wednesday 30 April 2014.

2012 Dr Bobbie Oliver

Dr Bobbie Oliver is Associate Professor of History at Curtin University. As Visiting Scholar, she researched the life of Elsie Curtin and presented a public lecture on this theme in the last quarter of 2012. Dr Oliver also wrote the text for a more comprehensive biography of Elsie Curtin which the JCPML published as a web resource, Elsie Curtin...a biography. Dr Oliver's public lecture on The Secret Life of Elsie Curtin was held in the Bankwest Theatre at Curtin University on 17 October 2012, her lecture notes can be found here.

2011 Mr Graham Freudenberg

Graham Freudenberg is a journalist, author, and political speechwriter to a succession of Labor leaders, including Gough Whitlam, Neville Wran, and Bob Hawke. His research explored issues relating to the reality or otherwise of the threat of invasion to Australia in early 1942 and examined the lessons they hold for us today. Mr Freudenberg presented the results of his work in a public lecture on 27 October 2011 Curtin's Battle for Australia: Lessons for 2011.

2010 Mr Ingle Knight

Ingle Knight has written more than 30 plays, musicals and films. His one man show, The Getaway Bus, won the best drama award in the WA fringe, toured to the Edinburgh Festival and nationwide in 2003, and was nominated for a 'Greenroom' award for best performance in the Melbourne fringe. He won the 1999 Premiers Book Award, for his adaptation of Elizabeth Jolley's novel Milk and Honey. Mr Knight has also performed in over 50 professional theatre productions including his most recent roles as Waffles in Uncle Vanya and Frank in Educating Rita (Black Swan Theatre Company). He has lectured script writing at a number of universities including Murdoch University. Mr Knight co-scripted, with George Blazevic, the Shadow of the Eagle which had its world premiere in Perth in 2003 and explored the relationship between Prime Minister John Curtin and General Douglas MacArthur. 

As 2010 Visiting Scholar, Mr Knight researched the influences on John Curtin in the period leading up to his re-election as federal MP for Fremantle in 1934 to write the script of a play focussing on Curtin in these 'lost years'. The play 'Curtin Rising' will premiere in Fremantle as part of Deckchair Theatre's 2012 season.

Ingle Knight was the winner of the 2012 WA Premier's Book Awards script category for the play The Fremantle Candidate.

Currently Ingle Knight is working on a new play commissioned by Black Swan Theatre.

2009 Mr Bob Wurth

Bob Wurth is a Queensland author with a long time interest in the Asia-Pacific region. Following a career as a journalist, foreign correspondent and ABC Manager for Asia and ABC Radio and Television for Queensland, he took up full time writing in 1999. He has written two books with a focus on John Curtin and the years of the Second World War: Saving Australia, Curtin's secret peace with Japan, Lothian Books, 2006; and 1942, Australia's greatest peril, Pan Macmillan, 2008. Bob Wurth donated his papers relating to his research for his book Saving Australia to the JCPML in early 2008. The publication arising from his Visiting Scholarship built on his existing Curtin research, which developed particular aspects in a form suitable for a web resource with a focus on the Australia-Japan relationship before, during and after the Second World War, in the context of the strong and continuing friendship of the Curtin-Kawai families in these periods. On 19 November 2009 Mr Wurth launched the web publication and travelling exhibition based on his research, Menzies, Fadden, Curtin and the Japanese Envoy.

The JCPML hosted the National Book Launch of Bob Wurth's new book The Battle for Australia in November 2013. His Excellency Malcom McCusker, AC CVO QC, Governor of Western Australia launched the book. For further information see the book launch page on the JCPML website.

2008 Dr Steven Casey

Dr Steven Casey is a Senior Lecturer in International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His primary research interests lie in US foreign policy since 1933, looking particularly at the interaction between domestic public opinion and foreign-policymaking. Dr Casey has published two books with Oxford University Press: Cautious Crusade: FDR, Public Opinion and the War against Germany (2001) and Selling the Korean War: Propaganda, Politics, and Public Opinion in the United States, 1950-1953 (2008). He is the co-editor of Mental Maps in the Era of Two World Wars (Palgrave, 2008) and has also published numerous articles on the 1940s and 1950s. In 2004-5 Dr Casey was the recipient of the Truman Presidential Library Scholar's Award and in 2010 he won the prestigious Harry S Truman Book Award for Selling the Korean War.

In May 2008 Dr Casey presented a public lecture for the JCPML A missed opportunity: the Curtin-Roosevelt meetings and Australian-American relations. He expanded upon the subject matter of his lecture in the web resource The Prime Minister and the President: John Curtin and Franklin D. Roosevelt in World War II, launched in April 2010.

Dr Casey is currently Professor of International History at the London School of Economics. His new publication is When soldiers fall: how Americans have confronted combat losses from World War I to Afganistan published in 2014.

2007 Dr Michael Fullilove

The 2015 Boyer Lectures presented by Dr Michael Fullilove.

As Program Director for Global Issues at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, Dr Michael Fullilove writes on subjects including US and Australian foreign policy, the US-China-Australia strategic triangle, the UN and diasporas. Previously he worked as a lawyer, a volunteer in the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor, and an adviser to Prime Minister Paul Keating. He was a consultant to Frank Lowy on the establishment of the Lowy Institute. He has published widely in broadsheets including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Times Literary Supplement, The National Interest and Foreign Affairs and he is a regular commentator for the ABC and CNN. Dr Fullilove's first book, 'Men and Women of Australia!' Our Greatest Modern Speeches, was published by Vintage in 2005. On 9 August 2007 Dr Fullilove presented a public lecture Still looking to America: Labor and the US alliance.

Dr Fullilove is now the Executive Director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy. His new book, Rendezvous with destiny: How Franklin D Roosevelt and five extraordinary men took America into the war and into the world, was published in 2013.

2006 Professor David Horner

Professor Horner served for 25 years in the Australian Regular Army, seeing active service in South Vietnam. More recently he has been Editor of the Army History Series, Head of the Australian Army's Land Warfare Studies Centre and media advisor. His research interests include Australian defence history, particularly strategy, command, intelligence and operations, and current defence issues. His major research project is the Official History of Australian Peacekeeping and Post-Cold War Operations. On 5 October 2006, Professor Horner presented a public lecture John Curtin as war leader and Defence Minister.

Professor Horner is the Official Historian and Professor of Australian Defence History, School of International, Political & Strategic Studies, Australian National University.

2005 Dr Michael McKernan

Dr McKernan has been at various times a successful academic, historian, museum manager, speechwriter, consultant and writer. In 1990 Dr McKernan was appointed historical consultant for the veterans' return to Gallipoli to mark the 75th anniversary of the landing; in 1993 he had key responsibility for the planning and implementation of the Entombment of the Unknown Australia Soldier; and in 1994-95 he was involved as Historical Adviser to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs in the national 'Australia Remembers 1994-1995' program. He has been the inaugural Frederick Watson Fellow at the National Archives of Australia (2000) and an inaugural Creative Fellow at the State Library of Victoria (2003). Dr Mckernan is also a regular broadcaster, book reviewer and public speaker. On 20 October 2005, he presented a public lecture John Curtin: A war casualty if ever there was one.

Dr McKernan is an historian working in the field of Australian social and military history. He is a former deputy director of the Australian War Memorial, author of many books, including Gallipoli a short history, has worked on history documentaries for ABC television and is a regular commentator for ABC radio.

2004 Dr James Curran

As 2004 Visiting Scholar, Dr Curran presented a public lecture A crisis of national meaning: Prime ministers and the dilemma of Australian nationalism.

Dr Curran is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of History and the US Studies Centre at Sydney University. His doctoral thesis on prime ministerial rhetoric and Australian nationalism from 1972 to 1996 was published by Melbourne University Publishing under the title Power of speech: Australian prime ministers defining the national image in 2004. The book was shortlisted for the 2005 NSW Premier's History Awards - Australian History Prize, and also for the Victorian Premier's 2004 Literary Award for a First Book in History. He is also the co-author, with Stuart Ward, of The unknown nation: Australia after empire (2010).

The national book launch by Stephen Smith, MP, Minister for Defence, of Dr Curran's 2010 work Curtin's empire took place at the JCPML on 5 May 2010.

Dr Curran is an Associate Professor currently in the Department of History at the University of Sydney.

2003 Professor Marilyn Lake

Professor Marilyn Lake holds a Personal Chair in the History Department of La Trobe University where she teaches Australian history and women's studies. Her current research and writing focus is on an historical investigation of the idea of the white man's country and the emergence of the 'white man' as a mode of identification and includes research into the racialised identities of Australia's Federal fathers and the complexity of 'white Australia'. Marilyn's research into John Curtin as an interesting case study of the tensions between socialist internationalism and the commitment to white Australia formed the basis of her 2003 public lecture John Curtin: Internationalist.

Professor Lake is an academic, Historical & Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne.

2002 Mr Denis Fitzgerald

Mr Denis Fitzgerald worked closely with the JCPML on a donation of papers of his father, Tom Fitzgerald, respected economic journalist and well known authority on Curtin. Denis made a significant contribution to the JCPML's understanding and arrangement of this donation and the collaboration culminated in November 2003 in the web publication Investigating John Curtin: the research papers of Tom Fitzgerald

2001 Professor Peter Edwards

Professor Peter Edward's focus on John Curtin and the Australian-American alliance formed the focus for his 2001 public lecture From Curtin to Beazley: Labor leaders and the American alliance. As 2001 Visiting Scholar, Professor Edwards was editor of a special July 2001 edition of the Australian Journal of International Affairs, sponsored by the JCPML, to mark the anniversary of the Australian - New Zealand - United States (ANZUS) Security Treaty.

Dr Peter Edwards is an Adjunct Professor at Deakin University.

2000 Dr John Edwards

Dr John Edward's research interest includes Curtin's contributions to Australia's economic and social policy. In 2001 Dr Edwards presented a public lecture In Search of John Curtin and, expanding on the themes of the lecture, his book Curtin's Gift: Reinterpreting Australia's greatest prime minister was published by Allen & Unwin in March 2005. In Curtin's Gift, Dr Edwards offers a reinterpretation of the leader and the man and challenges the perceived wisdom that Curtin was an accidental hero and a reluctant prime minister. It presents Curtin as an adept politician and argues that not only did he refocus Australia's defence and strategic alliances, but more importantly he paved the way for the internationalist economic policies of the Hawke and Keating Governments.

Dr John Edwards is a Visiting Fellow at the Lowy Institute and currently researching a new book.

1999 Assoc Prof David Black

Professor David Black's research culminated in the publication of 'Friendship is a sheltering tree': John Curtin's letters 1907 to 1945. Published by the JCPML in 2001, the book provides an intimate portrait of Curtin the man, through correspondence with family, friends, colleagues and political allies, as compiled and interpreted by Professor Black.

Emeritus Professor Black is the JCPML Historical Consultant.

1998 Dr David Day

Dr David Day's research for the biographical work John Curtin, a life brought him to the JCPML as Visiting Scholar for 1998. He presented a public lecture Gallipoli, Embezzlement and a Death in the Bush: John Curtin's First War and his book, which examined Curtin's life from his earliest days in Creswick to his tragic death in the Lodge, was published by HarperCollins in 1999.

Dr Day is an Honorary Research Associate at La Trobe University. Dr Day's most recent book is Flaws in the ice: In search of Douglas Mawson.

1997 Dr Geoffrey Serle

As inaugural Visiting Scholar, Dr Geoffrey Serle presented a public lecture Glimpses of John Curtin and authored the book For Australia and Labor: Prime Minister John Curtin. This book, published by the JCPML in 1998, provides a glimpse into the life and times of Australia's wartime prime minister and features photographs drawn from the JCPML's collection.

Dr Serle died in 1998. A brief biography of Dr Geoffrey Serle is available on the JCPML website.