Previous John Oxley Library Fellowship winners

The John Oxley Library Fellowship is awarded annually to support a research project that uses the rich resources of SLQ’s John Oxley Library and contributes to the creation of new knowledge of Queensland.

The recipient receives a stipend of $20,000 along with a personal work space within the John Oxley Library to utilise the extensive collections and material of the Library in the completion of an individual research project on their proposed topic of interest.

2017 Fellow

Lauren IstvandityThe 2017 John Oxley Library Fellowship has been awarded to Dr Lauren Istvandity for her project Reminiscing about jazz in Queensland: Preserving pre-1965 oral histories for the Queensland Jazz Archive Collection.

Lauren’s project will see her record and collect new oral histories about the history of jazz in Queensland. This project seeks to increase the volume, quality, and accessibility of material housed by the Queensland Jazz Archive Collection (QJAC, within John Oxley Library) through strategic engagement with jazz communities in Queensland. The research will comprise three key areas of activity, and is based in qualitative methodologies in connection with archival research, memory studies and music history.

The first section of the project will engage directly with QJAC, assessing its current coverage.
The second segment of the project comprises a series of ‘jazz reminiscence workshops’ with participants from the jazz communities in Brisbane, Hervey Bay, and Townsville and associated clubs. The workshops will utilise ephemera from QJAC, on loan, to provoke the revival of personal memories and the telling of oral histories for music-making prior to 1965 that will help map Queensland’s jazz history. Participants in these workshops are encouraged to bring along artefacts of their own that can be digitised and donated to QJAC. Oral histories provided by participants will be recorded and similarly donated to QJAC.

The third activity conducted within the project will involve music-making by members of the community, which will be encouraged after the workshops to further stimulate memories of Queensland composers, performers, and visiting overseas artists. Participants’ experience at the workshop will be assessed to evaluate their interest in repeat events. It is hoped that this activity will increase community awareness of and engagement with QJAC on a regular basis.

The significance of this research lies in the precarious nature of oral histories that can chart the early beginnings of jazz in Queensland. Many individuals who have first-hand experiences with performers, venues, and events, are nearing very old age. As such, it is imperative to collect their personal narratives of this time, before their stories are lost or forgotten.

2016 Fellow

Lorann DownerThe 2016 John Oxley Library Fellowship was awarded to Lorann Downer for her project A century of politics ephemera: a window onto Queensland from 1915 to 2015 .
Images and words will be used to craft a fresh narrative about the use of political ephemera and, thereby, deepen our understanding of how politics is done in Queensland. Dr Downer will review ephemera from the John Oxley Library - including posters, pamphlets, how-to-vote cards, buttons, t shirts and caps - used during significant state elections, referenda and debates in Queensland from 1915 to 2015. Her aim is to chronicle significant ephemera held in the Library collections and analyse its use from a political marketing perspective.

Political ephemera is a transitory political communication that is often viewed as junk. In fact, it offers a valuable and under-utilised window onto the priorities and passions of a particular time. This project will encompass the 1915 state election, which marks the start of Queensland’s two-party political system, and the most recent election in 2015. Reviewing ephemera across a century will produce a fascinating chronicle. In addition, Dr Downer will apply a political marketing perspective to consider what the ephemera reveals about the marketing of politics across time. A relatively new sub-field within political science, political marketing adapts theories and techniques from commerce to more fully describe and explain contemporary and historical political practice.

In sum, this work will offer a fresh perspective on politics in Queensland while showcasing some of the rich collections of the John Oxley Library.

Dr Downer has an impressive history as a political researcher. Her PhD, Kevin07 and The Real Julia: Labor’s Use of Political Branding in 2007 and 2010, was awarded in 2014 from the University of Queensland. The work considered if, and how fully, political branding was used during Labor’s 2007 and 2010 federal election campaigns. Using a specially-developed theoretical model and interviews with key practitioners, she tested some of the claims about the use of political branding in these campaigns.

Lorann’s teaching and research draws on her experience as a reporter, staffer and consultant. She was a Queensland political reporter for several years, including for ABC Radio. She then worked as a Director of the Government Media Unit for former Queensland Premiers Anna Bligh and Peter Beattie. She is also a communications consultant, specialising in working with government agencies.

2015 Fellow

Madonna GrehanThe 2015 John Oxley Library Fellowship for 2015 was awarded to Madonna Grehan for her project, ‘Something tangible to show our gratitude’: a History of Queensland’s Centaur Memorial. In 1943 during World War II, the Australian hospital ship the Centaur was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine 48km off Moreton Island. The sinking was Queensland’s worst maritime disaster, 268 lives were lost, 11 being Australian Army Nursing Service nurses.

From this disaster, five years later at a time of relative austerity, the people of Queensland rallied to create a tribute to the nurses lost, the creation of the Centaur Memorial Fund for Nurses in 1948. Ms Grehan’s project focuses on this fundraising campaign, the largest coordinated in Queensland during the 20th Century, researching the stories around how communities and high profile public figures got involved right around the state.

Madonna Grehan has an impressive history as an independent historian and has completed a number of other fellowships and academic projects around Australia focusing on nursing and medical history. She has just finished a fellowship with the State Library of Victoria’s La Trobe Library and will produce a manuscript on Mrs Sarah Barfoot: An √©migr√© gentlewoman midwife in Port Phillip and Victoria 1848-1880.

2014 Fellow

Historian Thom Blake was awarded with the 2014 John Oxley Library Fellowship for his proposed project Liquid Gold: the history of the Great Artesian Basin in Queensland. Thom will document the history of the Great Artesian Basin, with a focus on its social and economic impacts. He plans on utilising the collections of the John Oxley Library for his project, including the use of station records, photographs and newspapers. Thom Blake is a long standing professional historian and heritage consultant. In 2002 he won the NSW Premiers History Award: State Records Prize for his publication - A dumping ground: a history of the Cherbourg Aboriginal Settlement.

2013 Fellows

The 2013 John Oxley Library Fellows, Kathleen Mary Fallon and Matthew Nagas’ project - A Commemorative Pilgrimage of Significant Sites: the Australian South Sea Islanders from Tweed Heads to Torres Strait was to research, document, compile and photograph historic sites significant to Australian South Sea Islanders. Their project coincided with the 150th commemorations of the first arrival of Australian South Sea Islanders. Approximately 62,500 South Sea Islanders were ‘brought’ to Queensland to work on sugar plantations. After extensive research, including travelling to various significant sites, liaising with the Australian South Sea Islander community and using the collections of the John Oxley Library, they are planning to publish a series of heritage tourism guides for different regional areas.

2012 Fellow

Don Watson was the 2012 John Oxley Library Fellowship recipient.

His project aims to make a valuable contribution to local architectural history by extending his previously published research, Queensland Architects of the 19th Century: A biographical dictionary into the 20th century.

Mr Watson's research will not only chronicle the lives and work of Queensland architects, it will record pioneering Queensland life and how our architects have adapted their skills to design buildings appropriate to the climate, new technologies, and times of economic hardship.

2011 Fellow

Heidi Gibson was the 2011 John Oxley Library Fellowship recipient.

Ms Gibson’s project, Border ties, looks at the impact of Papua New Guinea’s independence on the traditional, familial and social networks of the Saibai and Boigu island communities.

The project explores whether there have been changes in the perception and roles of PNG nationals within the Saibai and Boigu island communities since independence; and how any such changes may have impacted upon relationships within families and other social networks that span the border divide.

2010 Fellow

Dr Jeff Rickertt won the 2010 John Oxley Library Fellowship for his project proposal ‘Ernie Lane, Australian Labour’s resolute rebel’.

Dr Rickertt used the Fellowship to produce a biography of Ernest Lane, a prominent figure in the Queensland labour movement from the early 1890s until the late 1930s.

2009 Fellow

Susan Addison and Dr Judith McKay were the winners of the 2009 John Oxley Library Fellowship.

The $20,000 prize went towards their proposal, Cooking up Stories: exploring Queensland's rich and diverse culinary heritage.

Judith is a freelance historian and museum consultant. Susan is a freelance editor and writer. They used John Oxley Library resources to research Queensland's culinary heritage over the past 150 years.

2008 Fellow

The winner of the John Oxley Library Fellowship for 2008 was Gordon Grimwade.

The $20,000 Fellowship allowed Gordon to access the resources of the John Oxley Library enabling him to complete his research into the overland migration of Chinese migrants from the Northern Territory to Queensland in the late 19th and 20th centuries.  He intends to publish a full length, illustrated book aimed at the international market entitled Australia's Long March.

2007 Fellow

The winner of the John Oxley Library Fellowship for 2007 was Dr Martin Buzacott.

The $20,000 Fellowship allowed Martin to access the resources of the John Oxley Library for research into Miraculous Mandarins: A Musical History of Queensland. Queensland is the only state in Australia which has never had a book written on its classical music history. Yet Queensland's musical history is actually more diverse and distinctive than that of any other Australian state.

Martin said, "The Fellowship makes it possible for me as an individual author to write the most important book of my career, but I also intend to use it for the benefit of the John Oxley Library collection as a whole – and in turn for the benefit of Queensland’s cultural history."

2006 Fellow

The winner of the John Oxley Library Fellowship for 2006 was Dr Celmara Pocock.

Dr Pocock used State Library of Queensland resources to research populist writer, Henry Lamond. Lamond's love of the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef contributed to their conservation and to their popularity as holiday destinations during the 1920s and 30s. Dr Pocock used resources from the John Oxley Library to build a fuller picture of Henry Lamond, particularly his personal life, development as a writer and his role in tourism and conservation of the Great Barrier Reef.

2005 Fellow

The winner of the John Oxley Library Fellowship for 2005 was Ian Townsend, an ABC journalist.

Ian received the grant to write The Devil's eye: a novel , the story of more than 300 people who drowned in the deadliest natural disaster in Australian history. He drew on sources from the State Library's John Oxley Library collection, such as diaries, ships' logs, reports from the Queensland Native Mounted Police, newspaper articles, original meteorological reports and the account of the Torres Strait postmaster of the time.

2004 Fellow

The winner of the inaugural John Oxley Library Fellowship was Dr Venero Armanno.

One of Queensland's most prominent writers, Dr Armanno was awarded the fellowship from the State Library to research and document part of the State's history in 2005.

Former State Librarian Lea Giles-Peters said the State Library, supported by the Queensland Library Foundation, established the Fellowship to uncover new historical facets of Queensland and to highlight the State Library resources which were available to the public.

"The John Oxley Library collection is a rich archive of Queensland history with a vast range of original research and reference materials," Ms Giles-Peters said.

Dr Armanno has written several novels including the award-winning The Volcano, Firehead, Strange Rain, and My Beautiful Friend. He has also written three novels for young adults, short stories for a number of anthologies, screenplays and a play that was short-listed for Queensland Theatre Company's George Landen Dann Award.


Outstanding contribution to the development of research collections relating to the history of Queensland:

  • Robert Longhurst

Outstanding contribution to the development of the John Oxley Library of Queensland:

  • Jennifer Harrison
  • Ross Johnston
  • Paul Wilson


Outstanding contribution towards documenting the history of Torres Strait Islander communities in Queensland:

  • Margaret Lawrie

Outstanding contribution to the John Oxley Library of Queensland History:

  • Mamie O'Keefe

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