John Oxley Library Fellows

The John Oxley Library Fellowship is awarded annually to support a research project that uses the rich resources of State Library'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.

Fellowship History

The following people have undertaken the John Oxley Library Fellowships which were established to uncover new historical facets of Queensland and to highlight the State Library resources which were available to the public.

Dr Jennifer Moffatt is the 2018 recipient of the John Oxley Library Fellowship for her project The story of Queensland’s selectors: how those who won land in a ballot contributed to Queensland’s social, economic and political development.  

Jennifer will examine the collections of the John Oxley Library and academic research to describe how the last selectors contributed to the progress of Queensland. The project will endeavour to make a new, rich and invaluable contribution to understanding Queensland’s social, economic, political and development.

John Oxley Library Fellow Dr Lauren Istvandity

The 2017 John Oxley Library Fellowship was 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 saw her record and collect new oral histories about the history of jazz in Queensland. The project sought 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 significance of this research lay in the precarious nature of oral histories to 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 was imperative to collect their personal narratives of this time, before their stories are lost or forgotten.

2016 John Oxley Library Fellow: Lorann Downer

The 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 were 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 reviewed 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 was to chronicle significant ephemera held in the Library collections and analyse its use from a political marketing perspective.

This project encompassed the 1915 state election, which marked the start of Queensland’s two-party political system, and the most recent election in 2015. Reviewing ephemera across a century produced a fascinating chronicle. In addition, Dr Downer applied a political marketing perspective to consider what the ephemera reveal about the marketing of politics across time.

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.

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 John Oxley Library Fellow: Madonna Grehan

The 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 focused 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 émigré gentlewoman midwife in Port Phillip and Victoria 1848-

2014 John Oxley Library Fellow - Thom Blake - Liquid Gold: the history of the Great Artesian Basin in Queensland

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 documented the history of the Great Artesian Basin, with a focus on its social and economic impacts. He utilised 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.

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.

The 2012 John Oxley Fellow Don Watson’s project made 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 not only chronicled the lives and work of Queensland architects, it also recorded 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.

Heidi Gibson was awarded the 2011 John Oxley fellowship for her project, Border Ties that looked 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.

Dr Jeff Rickertt was awarded 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.

Susan Addison and Dr Judith McKay were the winners of the 2009 John Oxley Library Fellowship for their proposed project, 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.

The winner of the John Oxley Library Fellowship for 2008 was Gordon Grimwade and his research into the overland migration of Chinese migrants from the Northern Territory to Queensland in the late 19th and 20th Centuries.

Dr Martin Buzacott was awarded the 2007 recipient of the John Oxley Library Fellowship for his 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.

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."

Dr Celmara Pocock, the 2006 John Oxley Library Fellow 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.

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

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.

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.