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.


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.