John Oxley Library Fellowship

2020 John Oxley Library Fellows Dr Deb Anderson and Associate Professor Kerrie Foxwell-Norton

The 2020 John Oxley Library fellowship was awarded to Dr Deb Anderson and Associate Professor Kerrie Foxwell-Norton for their joint project The Women of the Great Barrier Reef: The Untold Stories of Environmental Conservation in Queensland. 

In 1966, Terry Ridgway quit her typing-pool job in Brisbane and moved to a remote island in the Great Barrier Reef. Aged 19, she became ‘the girl Robinson Crusoe’, living solo and spending her time studying marine life, aiming to identify the more than 1,500 species of Reef fish. Except for a brief Sunday feature in an American newspaper, penned by the late Australian journalist Barry Wain, Ridgway’s story yet remains largely untold. What became of this woman’s quest to advance our understanding of the largest living structure on Earth?

This project will highlight the significant role women have played in the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. By learning from, and adding to, the collection of original materials within the John Oxley Library, the project seeks to discover and share the untold stories of women from all walks of life who have advanced our knowledge of the Reef and its protection. Importantly, this work will lay the foundations for a landmark catalogue of cultural memory and heritage relating to environmental conservation in Queensland, raising awareness of the Library’s holdings and forming a vital tool for future research.


2020 John Oxley Library Honorary Fellow Dr Allison O'Sullivan

Dr Alison O'Sullivan has been awarded the 2020 John Oxley Library Honorary Fellow for her project In their own words: women diarists of colonial Queensland.

In the 1880s, three vastly different women kept diaries of their journeys to a new home in Queensland. By starting from a point of commonality – their diaries – Allison will trace their divergent trails through the history of the colony, following the fortunes and achievements of everyday women, and use these individuals to illustrate the distinct paths of women migrants to colonial Queensland.
This project will illustrate how individual women’s lives can be joined by a single common experience, and yet create different stories. This will present Queenslanders with the opportunity to become familiar with people from our past and develop a sense of the place of their ancestors through the women portrayed.

Utilising the original materials of the John Oxley Library, this project will create a living history for Queenslanders by giving a voice to women of their past.


2019 John Oxley Library Fellows Louise Martin-Chew and Matthew Wengert

The 2019 John Oxley Library fellowship was awarded to Louise Martin-Chew and Matthew Wengert for their joint project Designs-Details-Devils: A Visual History of Queensland’s Government Printing Office 1862-2013.

Louise and Martin will utilise the John Oxley Library collection to research the visual history of Queensland’s Government Printing Office (QGPO). The Government Printing Office was responsible for publishing official documents and information (‘Details’), including Hansard, Parliamentary Papers, Annual Reports, Royal Commissions, Acts & Bills & Regulations & Statutes, Nautical charts and Tide Timetables, Electoral Maps (and hundreds of other types of maps), Survey Plans, Railway Timetables, and other regular and occasional publications.

It generated beautiful and elaborate decorative printing (‘Designs’), including posters for the Government Intelligence & Tourist Bureau, and invitations and menus for official functions (Royal Visits, Parliamentary banquets and festive events etc.), and official artworks and illustrations for publications by all the different government departments and agencies— books, maps, charts, posters, pamphlets, and signs.

Many hundreds of people worked in the QGPO’s different sections—and the project aims to organise a visual history of the workplace, and the staff (‘Devils’). These workers include artists William Bustard, Lloyd Rees, and Peter Smith Templeton—and more who we will discover. The gargoyles above the George Street facade represent the workers, who styled themselves as ‘printer’s devils’.

The industrious ‘Devils’’ work—creative 'Designs' and informative 'Details' published on behalf of the people and State—contribute to a rich visual history of Queensland through what the QGPO printed.

2019 John Oxley Library Honorary Fellow Dr Gemmia Burden

Dr Gemmia Burden has been awarded the inaugural John Oxley Library Honorary Fellow for her project Private lives, public knowledge: Gendered collecting and intimacies of place in Queensland c. 1842-1900.

Gemma will utilise the diaries, station records, personal papers, albums and images found in the John Oxley Library collection to investigate how settler and pioneer women on Queensland’s frontier collected, categorised, and understood the world around them, including through their relationships with local Indigenous people.

By focussing on Queensland as a case study, it has the potential to uncover exciting and intimate threads of knowledge production and histories of place that are largely hidden from Queensland’s history, while also highlighting how the Colony was connected across Empire.

The John Oxley Library Fellowship offers researchers of all disciplines, historians, writers and creatives the opportunity to uncover Queensland’s rich and diverse history utilising the resources of the John Oxley Library and State Library of Queensland.

The fellowship recipient receives a stipend of $20,000, a personal work space within the Neil Roberts Research Lounge for 12 months and premium access to the extensive collections and expertise library staff.

For more information about the John Oxley Library Fellowship please email or call 07 3840 7879 or 07 3840 7887.