Category: Uncategorized

Skills for New Historians Seminar: Non-Academic Careers

Our seminar series continues! We are so glad that you all are loving these seminars as much as we are! A huge thanks, of course, to the guest speakers we’ve asked to be part of them each month, but also huge thanks to our audience, who come along and ask such interesting and thoughtful questions every time.

Before we announce details for the next seminar, some exciting news! In case you missed it, the new AHA website is LIVE! It looks great, is super user-friendly, and has taken a lot of work to get here. What is especially exciting is that the recordings for past seminars in this series are now available on the website! If you’d like to catch up on our past sessions on Digital Histories, Book Proposals, or the Peer Review process, you can now access them to watch back. Simply log into your member account, and then go to “Member Resources” and then “Seminars” on the dropdown menu. 

Now, for the next seminar!

In putting together this series, we knew we needed to acknowledge the very tough climate that the Arts, and the University sector more broadly, are currently in. It’s never been easy to secure an academic job, but with Covid-19 keeping international students away, and reduced government funding meaning job cuts, now seems an especially difficult time. It’s becoming increasingly common (and necessary) to move from the PhD or the postdoctoral fellowship to different kinds of work. But this doesn’t have to mean giving up on research, publishing, or keeping in touch with your academic community. It also doesn’t mean forgetting all the skills you developed and honed during your PhD. This month, then, we’re focusing on work outside of – or, perhaps, alongside – the academy, and speaking to people who have successfully secured these kinds of positions in three different fields: university administration, the public service, and the GLAM sector. These recent grads will tell us all about their work in these fields, how they secured their positions, and if/how they balance continuing to publish and engage with their academic communities:

  • Dr Emma Gleadhill, Faculty of Arts Research Officer at Macquarie University
  • Dr Emma Sarian, NSW State Insurance Regulatory Authority
  • Dr Mariko Smith, First Nations Assistant Curator at the Australian Museum


  • Skills for New Historians: Non-Academic Careers with Dr Emma Gleadhill, Dr Emma Sarian, and Dr Mariko Smith
  • Friday 16 July, 4—6pm AEST (via Zoom)
  • To register: please note the new process!
    • Log into the AHA website
    • Go to Member Resources / Seminars (see the pictures above!)
    • Scroll down to Seminar #5 and click through to the Google Form, and complete!
    • Registrations close Thursday 15 July

Having problems logging into the Members Only section of the new website? Contact Bethany, the AHA’s executive officer, at

Skills for New Historians is open to ECRs and HDRs who are members of the AHA. If you’d like to join in and aren’t a new member, head over to the AHA website where you can renew your membership or become a member for the first time. The seminar will be recorded and the recording made available to AHA members.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch. We’re looking forward to seeing you!

Skills for New Historians Seminar: Peer Review

Friends — thank you so much for making this seminar series such a wonderful event! We’ve so far had three amazing seminars on Digital Histories, Book Proposals, and the DECRA, and each of them have been led by generous scholars and attended by an enthusiastic and curious group of ECRs and HDRs. We’re thrilled to announce our fourth seminar, which will follow in the same vein!

Peer review is a fundamental part of the academic experience — our papers, grant applications, and books get sent to unknown (to us) readers, who pore over these texts to decide whether you get published, funding, or a good review. It’s fundamental … and yet can be a personal, intimate experience too, as we often pour so much of ourselves into our writing. A good review can be elating, whereas a bad review can be debilitating. There are few formal guidelines or frameworks through which to approach reviewers’ reports, and dreaded Reviewer 2 can strike at any moment. How do we go about this process? At the same time, there are no formal lessons on how to be a good reviewer. How do you give constructive, thoughtful, helpful feedback … without becoming Reviewer 2 yourself? Our next seminar will explore all things peer review from both sides of the table, with two experienced speakers:


  • Skills for New Historians: Peer Review with Professor Kate Fullagar and Associate Professor Lisa Featherstone
  • Tuesday 1 June, 3–4.30pm AEST (via Zoom)
  • To register: please email by Monday 31 May

Skills for New Historians is open to ECRs and HDRs who are members of the AHA. If you’d like to join in and aren’t a new member, head over to the AHA website where you can renew your membership or become a member for the first time. The seminar will be recorded and the recording made available to AHA members.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch. We’re looking forward to seeing you!

Skills for New Historians Seminar: The DECRA

We are pretty excited to announce the next instalment in our “Skills for New Historians” seminar series! We’ve already had two great sessions on Digital Histories and Book Proposals, with generous speakers giving valuable information to our attendees. Thanks to all those who have participated so far! If you’d like to catch up on the sessions, they’ve both been recorded and will be uploaded to the new AHA website, to be launched soon! Stay tuned — we’ll announce when the the website is ready and the recordings are able to be viewed. (Note: member log-in required.)

For our next seminar, we’re turning our attention to another part of ECR life that we all hear a lot about and know is important, but can be difficult to navigate: the DECRA. Yep, we’re talking ARC funding. You may have read the posts on this blog about “Dismembering the DECRA“, but want even more information, more transparency. Just what is the DECRA? How do you get one? Why is it so important? Who are the College of Experts, and what do they do? Our panel of speakers will share their perspectives to answer these questions and more:


  • Skills for New Historians: The DECRA with Professor Bronwen Neil, Professor Amanda Nettelbeck, Dr Emma Gleadhill, and Dr Tristan Moss
  • Friday 30 April, 3–5pm AEST (via Zoom)
  • To register: please email by Thursday 29 April

Skills for New Historians is open to ECRs and HDRs who are members of the AHA. If you’d like to join in and aren’t a member, head over to the AHA website where you can renew your membership or become a member for the first time. This seminar will not be recorded.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch. We’re looking forward to seeing you!

Skills for New Historians Seminar: Book Proposals

The first seminar in the recently-established “Skills for New Historians” series for ECR and HDR members of the AHA was held last week, and what an afternoon it was! Huge thanks to Alana Piper and Tim Sherratt for giving us an insight into the world of digital histories. It was two hours chock-full of information, tips, and resources, and was a great way to kick off the series. We’ll be adding a recording of the seminar to the new AHA website (to be launched soon!), so stay tuned — we’ll announce when it’s up and ready to be viewed! (Note: member log-in required).

We are delighted to be able to announce the second seminar, now open for registration, and it’s a big one. The Book Proposal. Just how do you write one? What are publishers looking for? How do you choose the best publisher for your work? This upcoming seminar will feature a panel of three speakers immensely qualified to address these questions and more:


  • Skills for New Historians: Book Proposals with Professor Melanie Oppenheimer, Dr Nathan Hollier, and Dr James Keating
  • Tuesday 30 March, 3 — 5 pm AEDT (via Zoom)
  • To register: please email by Monday 29 March

Skills for New Historians is open to ECRs and HDRs who are members of the AHA. If you’d like to join in and aren’t a member, head over to the AHA website where you can renew your membership or become a member for the first time. The seminar will be recorded and the recording made available to AHA members.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch. We’re looking forward to seeing you!

Announcing: “Skills for New Historians” Seminar Series 2021

Now that we’re well and truly into the 2021 grind, we are so pleased to be able to announce another new initiative for 2021. Responses to the survey we circulated last year indicated that the ECR and HDR communities are searching for more development and guidance on the different elements that make up the life and work of an academic. We know ourselves that, both during and after your PhD, you can suddenly find yourself in the middle of conversations about postdocs, DECRAs, book proposals, grant applications … it can feel like learning a new language. This blog has a wealth of information about these various topics in the back catalogue (and we of course recommend you take the time to explore past posts!) but we also wanted to provide a forum where ECRs and HDRs alike can engage with the latest information about all these different branches, as well as a space where we can check in regularly with each other.

With that in mind, we’re thrilled to announce Skills for New Historians, a new monthly seminar series for ECR and HDR members of the AHA that will offer advice and guidance on academic life, and the various things we as emerging historians need to think about as we move into this new phase of our careers. You can expect seminars on developing your skills in relation to grants, publishing, and book proposals, to name just a few seminars we have planned … but we’ll also be thinking about careers and pathways outside of/adjacent to academia too. We’re thrilled as well that this series has the support of the Executive Committee of the AHA, and that our president Prof Melanie Oppenheimer will be coming along to them throughout the year! This is a great opportunity to get advice from not only experts in particular areas, but to meet and get to know a leading Australian historian who is the head of our representative body.

We’re kicking things off with a seminar that is important generally but especially timely right now: Digital Histories. Our limited travel abilities in the age of COVID have only emphasised the importance and possibilities of the digital world. Whether engaging with digital archives or using digital tools to analyse archives or promote research, the digital research landscape is an exciting and ever-shifting space that offers countless opportunities for historians. We’re delighted, then, to have two of the best researchers come and lead a seminar/workshop about the digital terrain: A/Prof Tim Sherratt (University of Canberra) and Dr Alana Piper (UTS).


  • Skills for New Historians: Digital Histories with A/Prof Tim Sherratt and Dr Alana Piper
  • Friday 5 March, 4 — 6 pm AEDT (via Zoom)
  • To register: please email by Thursday 4 March

Skills for New Historians is open to ECRs and HDRs who are members of the AHA. If you’d like to join in and aren’t a member, head over to the AHA website where you can renew your membership or become a member for the first time.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch. We’re looking forward to seeing you at our first seminar for 2021!

ECR/HDR Mentoring Scheme

Welcome back, ECR friends! It’s a new year and we’re really excited to kick off 2021 with a new initiative for ECRs and HDRs.

Responses to our ECR survey indicated that ECRs are looking to develop their mentoring skills to, amongst other things, start preparing for future supervision responsibilities, and to forge stronger links with the HDR community. With that in mind, we’ve been working with HDR representative Joshua Black to develop a new mentoring scheme that will take place in 2021. This scheme will pair ECRs with HDRs in a mentor/mentee relationship, creating space for HDRs to ask questions and get advice from somebody who has successfully completed their doctoral study in this recent, challenging environment, and for ECRs to offer advice about how they navigate the various elements of academic life.

This will be a scheme that runs from February to November 2021, and is for AHA members only. (Remember to head to the AHA website if you want to sign up for new membership, or renew it!)

What you have to do:

Complete this Google form, making sure you let us know if you’re signing up to be a mentor (ECRs) or a mentee (HDRs). The form also asks what areas you’d like to focus on in the relationship: so, ECRs, do you think you can help with publishing, for example? Or career development? HDRs, would you like help with networking, for instance, or how to look for funding? Let us know.

We’ll use these responses to match people together; the now widespread use of Zoom means that we’re less concerned with where people are located, although if you and your mentor/mentee are geographically close (and relevant Covid restrictions allow), do feel free to meet in person.

We think that meeting every six to eight weeks is sufficient; at minimum, that means that you should be prepared to meet six times by the end of the year. However, if you both find that you’d like to meet more often, then please do! This is a self-directed program, where you and your mentor/mentee can really take the reins and create a schedule that works for you both. We’ll be checking in throughout the year, and of course are here to take questions should you have any, but otherwise will trust both parties to work and communicate with each other.

Applications for this scheme close Sunday 31 January, with respective pairs to be notified in February. Shoot us an email or contact us on Twitter if you’ve got any questions!

ECR Survey Responses and Looking Ahead to 2021

Well friends, we made it to the end of 2020. This has been an incredibly difficult year for so many reasons, and quite frankly we all deserve a pat on the back for getting through it. And although the various hardships that have dotted 2020 of course won’t immediately cease on 1 January, we’re looking ahead to 2021 with hope for a smoother and less stressful year.

But first, we’d like to use this final blog post of the year to reflect on where our community is, and think through how we can move forward together in the new year. A key part of this exercise for us, your representatives, is reflecting and acting upon the ECR survey that was distributed in September and October of 2020. We were pretty chuffed to receive over 50 responses, so right at the top we’d like to thank everyone who filled it out — we really appreciate your taking the time to fill us in on what you are thinking and feeling in what has been (and continues to be) a very challenging time for our sector. The responses we received were illuminating and insightful, and have helped us to develop some new ideas and initiatives that we hope will foster networks amongst ECRs and with the AHA community more broadly, provide opportunities for career development, and give you more information about the various components of academic life. However, the responses also indicated just how tough it is to be an ECR (or PhD student) right now. Thank you to everyone for the honesty and vulnerability you showed. For anyone struggling right now, please know that you are not alone, and that you can always reach out to either Chelsea, Joel, or Anna if you need.

Our main takeaways from the responses to the survey are that:

  • a sizeable number of you reported having parenting or carer responsibilities, or having a disability or chronic illness, which affects the ways in which you engage with and experience the academy and the discipline.
  • community-building with other ECRs and the history discipline is seen as important.
  • there was a mixed sentiment about whether the AHA is doing enough to support ECRs. Some felt it is doing enough, while others were critical of what they see as, for example, a lack of support from senior academics or a failure to challenge escalating track record expectations for those applying for jobs and grants. Others wrote that they thought the AHA was “sort of” doing enough or that the question was difficult to answer, as they felt their interests were being represented but also that the AHA had limited capacity to affect change within institutions and government.
  • there is a clear demand for more concrete initiatives to support career development and opportunities, such as mentoring schemes, advice on publishing and job applications, grant-writing workshops, etc.
  • a number of you want to be more aware of career opportunities and pathways outside of academia.
  • many are anxious, frustrated, and concerned about the state of the sector and the difficulties of finding sustained and meaningful employment. These fears are not new but have been exacerbated by the events of 2020 and the ongoing crisis in the higher education sector.

We are using these findings to shape and inform the work that we will be doing over the remainder of our term as your ECR representatives. The AHA Executive Committee has been highly responsive to our reporting of the survey results, and is particularly concerned about the low morale and confidence in the sector reported by many respondents. We’ll be working with the Executive Committee in the new year to deliver a number of initiatives that we hope will provide both ECR and HDR members with valuable opportunities for career development, networking and community-building. We’d particularly like to acknowledge the strong support of AHA President, Prof Melanie Oppenheimer, in developing this program of member activities.

Initiatives already underway:

  • We have worked with the Australian Centre for Public History at UTS to redevelop their previous Research Assistant Database as a centralised register to facilitate connections between those looking to hire an RA and looking for RA work. The database will make ECRs available for RA work across the country and internationally more visible. The initiative also supports the Working Paper on Sustainable History, which was endorsed by the AHA Executive Committee in September 2020, and which calls for scholars to reassess their research travel needs and where possible consider hiring remote RAs as an alternative.
  • Applications are currently open for the AHA CAL ECR Mentorship Scheme, which provides six ECRs with a stipend, the opportunity to be formally mentored, and both academic and public avenues for publication. This scheme has been running for the past few years and we are not only happy that we can offer funding for 2021, but we are working with PhD representative Joshua Black to think through new schemes of small grant funding, for PhD students and ECRs alike, in the years ahead.

Initiatives we’re working on:

  • We are working with AHA President, Prof Melanie Oppenheimer, to produce a series of monthly online seminars and workshops focusing on career development, grants and publications, and more. This will be a great way to engage with senior scholars, build networks across the country with other ECRs and HDRs, and explore different facets of academic life in a difficult climate. The series will be a major program of member activities that responds specifically to the calls in the survey for more concrete initiatives to support junior scholars.
  • Stay tuned in early 2021 as we announce a new mentorship scheme that will provide ECRs with the chance to act as a mentor to an HDR scholar. The scheme will provide ECRs with experience offering support and guidance to an emerging scholar, and the opportunity to develop their mentoring skills to take into supervisory relationships. For HDR candidates it will provide mentorship from a person who’s just been through it, who can offer advice on navigating academia in this tricky climate.
  • We’ll be harnessing the blog to continue communicating with you more information about different opportunities, non-academic career options and pathways, and life in academia from a variety of perspectives, including those highlighted by the survey responses.
  • We are already thinking about the ECR session at the next AHA Conference at UNSW in November-December 2021 – if you have ideas, do get in touch!

We are really excited to get to work in 2021, putting these plans into place and working with the AHA Executive Committee and you, our ECR community, to try and foster a more supportive and positive experience for us all. Don’t forget that you can always get in touch with us if you have any suggestions for a seminar or blog post, or if you have any questions or thoughts about ECR life more generally. Most of all, we’d like to wish you all a safe, happy, and restful holiday break, and a wonderful new year celebration. See you all in 2021!

The below breaks down the responses from the survey (all kept anonymous, of course!). There were 53 responses in total. The survey was open to AHA members who are are ECRs or are ECR-adjacent, including those nearing the end of their PhDs.

1. How do you define your current career situation?

Early ECR32.1%
Mid ECR13.2%
Late ECR7.5%
Mid-Career Researcher1.9%
Finishing PhD24.5%
Did not answer/did not specify20.7%

2. How do you define your employment situation?

Casual/Fixed Term (Academic)50.9%
Continuing (Academic)11.3%
Honorary Unpaid1.9%
Casual/Fixed Term (Non-Academic)15.1%
Unemployed17.0% (13.2% current PhD candidates)
Continuing Part-time (Non-Academic)1.9%
Casual/Fixed Term (Unspecified)1.9%

3. Do you have an institutional affiliation (including honorary)?

Prefer not to say3.8%

4. Are you currently pursuing an academic career?


5. Do you identify with/belong to any of the following groups?

Parent/Carer Responsibilities35.8%
Disability/Chronic Illness18.9%
Non-Binary/Gender Diverse5.7%
Ethnic/Religious Minority1.9%
Prefer not to say3.8%
People who identified with two or more of these groups3.8%

6. Have you attended any of the AHA conferences? If not, please indicate why, if you’d like.

Did not answer9.4%

Additional comments (Yes):

  • Yes, but high cost has prevented respondent from attending more
  • Yes, but only because it fell in school holidays
  • Yes, but as an independent scholar it was expensive and isolating
  • Yes, but it is extremely difficult due to travel and registration costs

Additional comments (No):

  • Interdisciplinary scholar with limited funds who has to choose between conferences
  • Cannot leave kids
  • Too expensive
  • COVID cancellation prevented 2020 attendance 
  • Holds limited interest for those not working on Australian history
  • New to Australia and not integrated into Australian history community

7. Have you ever read the AHA ECR blog?


8. What are the main reasons you maintain your AHA membership? Please select all that apply. 

Weekly newsletter73.6%
Prizes, awards and funding opportunities69.8%
Conference attendance54.7%
History Australia subscription39.6%
Community engagement58.5%

Additional comments:

  • Feeling part of a community
  • Solidarity
  • To support the discipline
  • To build connections in the community
  • Job information
  • A way of maintaining connection to the profession

9. What are your primary concerns, or what do you believe are the biggest issues facing ECRs at present? This could relate to the university sector broadly, individual issues such as access, mental and physical health etc – anything at all that concerns you. 

Comments included:

  • Employment precarity / lack of opportunities / lack of stable opportunities
  • Uncertainty around the sector
  • Structural shifts have produced a reliance on ECR labour with lack of compensation/benefits
  • Attacks on the humanities and on research funding
  • Mental health
  • Grant-writing
  • Career prospects, amplified by COVID
  • Low quality of life compared to PhDs who move into non-academic work
  • Lack of action from senior colleagues and institutions to improve employment precarity for ECRs / lack of understanding of the pressures and stress for ECRs
  • Not enough postdoc positions or options before the DECRA
  • Reducing access to libraries which restricts ability to research
  • Severe imposter syndrome
  • People who benefit from current system need to fight for those who don’t
  • Lack of positions for First Nations scholars/people of colour
  • Lack of solidarity from people with ongoing jobs
  • Public value of the discipline
  • Difficulties in applying for funding without first having confirmed employment
  • Academics in regional areas being overlooked

10. Do you think the AHA is doing enough to support ECRS?

Prefer not to say20.8%
Sort of/it’s complicated 1.9%
Did not answer1.9%

11. If you responded “No” above, please provide some details, if you’d like. 

Comments included:

  • AHA as an organisation is conservative and slow to act
  • Recent report on casualisation an important initiative, but has not resulted in meaningful change
  • AHA does not speak out on issues of importance to ECRs
  • Mentoring opportunities wanted
  • “Sort of” – unsure what more the AHA could do to effect change within institutions and governments, or to create more jobs
  • Feeling alone and disconnected
  • AHA fails to challenge escalating expectations of ECRs applying for jobs and grants
  • “Difficult to answer” – there is individual effort to represent ECRs, but AHA dominated by the interests of mid-career and senior academics
  • Writing or other interest groups wanted

12. What areas do you think you would most benefit from in terms of support?

Transparent and honest discussions around academic wellbeing56.6%
Community engagement and solidarity56.6%
Opportunities for CV building such as mentoring post-graduates37.7%
Advice on career development52.8%
Advice on publishing54.7%
Advice on grants and post-doc applications56.6%

13. Please share with us any thoughts you have on how we, as your ECR reps, can act in support of you. Is there anything in particular you would like to see us do or accomplish? Would you like to see us expand platforms such as the ECR blog? Anything you can think of!

  • More collaboration/building solidarity, less on building competition
  • Publishing/grant-writing workshops
  • Resurrection/expansion of the ECR blog and its established series
  • Tighter relationship between ECR and postgrad reps
  • Honest conversations about what to do with a PhD beyond the academy
  • More engagement with those who transitioned to non-academic jobs
  • ECR reps at the forefront of online conversations re precarity
  • Social functions outside of AHA conferences
  • Seminars with non-academic history PhDs

AHA-Copyright Agency Early Career Researcher Mentorship Scheme

The Australian Historical Association is delighted to announce a new award for six Early Career Researchers in history. This award supports Early Career Researcher historians to develop their professional skills. Specifically, it will link Early Career Researchers with senior historians who will mentor them in the development of new and innovative works of historical scholarship, in the form of articles that will be published in leading journals. In addition to a journal article, awardees are required to publish a short article in an outlet such as The Conversation, Australian Policy and History, ABC News Online or another online forum, in order to enhance public awareness of their work, and of innovations in the field of history. This will develop Early Career Researchers’ professional skills in relation to research ‘impact’ and communication with a wide audience, attributes that are increasingly required by those working in academic and public history. All publications will acknowledge the Copyright Agency and the Australian Historical Association.

Amount of Award

Successful applicants will receive:

  1. A stipend of $1,500 AUD;
  2. Invaluable professional mentoring in the development of articles of historical significance;
  3. The chance to enhance their professional skills and develop their networks.


  1. Awards will be given to Early Career Researchers in history within two years of the completion of their PhDs. The date of the award of the degree must not be before 1 January 2019.
  2. Applicants must be members of the Australian Historical Association.
  3. Applicants must reside in Australia. Mentors may work in a different state or country to the applicant providing a case is made for the compatibility of the mentor to the applicant and how monthly meetings will take place (e.g. via Skype).
  4. Applicants must not be employed full-time by a university or public history institution when the application is submitted.
  5. At least three of the awards will go to applicants in states other than NSW, VIC and ACT in order to avoid the traditional focus on universities and public institutions in these states.
  6. One award will go to a regional applicant.
  7. Indigenous Early Career Researchers in history are strongly encouraged apply.
  8. No gender or age criteria are applied.

Conditions of Award

  1. Six successful applicants will be awarded $1,500 to support their work on articles of historical significance.
  2. Awardees will meet with their mentors on a monthly basis for six months.
  3. Awardees will write a journal article (approximately 7,000-8,000 words) for submission to a top journal in the field. This article must be submitted to an appropriate journal before the end of the six months of the award. Applicants may propose an equivalent alternative output appropriate to their historical field and career trajectory, such as a book proposal, with the backing of their mentors.
  4. Awardees write a short (approximately 800 words) article about the contemporary implications of their research for a general readership, to be published with an online platform, such as Australian Policy and History or The Conversation. This piece must be published by Wednesday 16 June 2021.
  5. Awardees will provide a written progress report to be submitted by Wednesday 16 June 2021.
  6. Awardees will acknowledge the Copyright Agency and Australian Historical Association in publications which arise from the mentorship. Publicity for the scheme will include a description of the work of the Copyright Agency and Australian Historical Association and, where applicable, a link to their websites.
  7. Awardees must advise the Australian Historical Association when they have completed their two articles and provide copies of them.
  8. Mentors must submit a written report advising the Australian Historical Association of the completion of the scheme and the achievements of the awardee during the six months of the scheme.
  9. Mentors must not have previously supervised applicants’ research work.

Application Process

Applicants must:

  1. Complete the application form.
  2. Provide a current CV (three-page maximum).
  3. Provide a written letter of support of their application from their intended mentor. The letter should include details of the ability of the applicant to complete the proposed articles, the innovation of the proposed articles, and a description of the type of in-kind support their institution is able to provide.
  4. Send their completed application form, CV, and letter of support to Chelsea Barnett, Joel Barnes, and Anna Temby at by Friday 29 January 2021.

Allan Martin Award

Opportunities for external ECR funding are not necessarily plentiful, particularly for those of us without an ongoing affiliation at a university. That’s why the Allan Martin Award is so important, and something ECRs should definitely consider applying for! Applications for 2021 are now open and close on 1 December 2020, so if you’re thinking about applying, it’s time to get to it!

The Allan Martin Award: a research fellowship for early career historians working in the field of Australian history. It’s an award of up to $4000, for an ECR historian to assist and further their research, whether in Australia or overseas. It’s available for all ECRs (within five years of the award of their PhD), whether academic, professional, or public. A more detailed outline of the terms and conditions, eligibility, and application requirements are available here.

(Edit, 5 November 2020: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and associated border closures, the AHA and ANU have agreed to vary the conditions for the Allan Martin Award for 2021. The usual requirement that the award fund a research trip has been waived, so that (for instance) applicants may instead propose to undertake research in lockdown conditions or hire local Research Assistants to overcome interstate and international travel restrictions.)

To give you insight into how winning the Allan Martin Award can help your research and your career development, we spoke to two past winners.

Dr Peter Hobbins Principal Historian, Artefact Heritage Services, Sydney

Twitter: @history2wheeler

Winning the Allan Martin Award helped change my practice as a historian in two major ways. Most importantly, it furthered a desire to embed my historical practice more closely in the community. Secondly–and rather unexpectedly–it dramatically boosted my media profile as a professional historian.

At the heart of my Allan Martin Award application was a simple sentence: “the primary outputs from this project will not be mine”. I felt sure that those words would be my undoing. Instead, the judges understood that my ambition was to step outside of self-interest and share my passion for the past. My goal was to encourage community historians to research and write about the “Spanish” influenza pandemic, over the centenary year of 2018-19. It meant that I did write some outputs, especially a 5000-word footnoted website and–with Alison Wishart and Georgia McWhinney–a community-focused research guide. But more to the point, the funding enabled me to work with the Royal Australian Historical Society to take a series of 3-hour workshops across regional New South Wales to encourage local history projects. This “flu roadshow” was enormous fun, and I learned a huge amount from the community practitioners I met with. They are still contacting me! It was truly inspiring to have been funded to run a project that fostered the writing of history at a grassroots level, far from universities and from large cities.

While I had planned for some media interest during the project, I hadn’t counted on Covid-19. This meant that in 2020, I have been interviewed for well over 50 television, radio and print interviews about the 1918-19 influenza pandemic, including the Australian Story episode which attracted over a million viewers and another 500,000 views on YouTube. I was also pleased to be interviewed for the episodes of the State Library’s “The Gatherings Order” podcast series. One corollary of that exposure is that I now have a regular spot presenting history topics on Sky News. At a time when we are facing massive challenges to history–and the humanities–this is a chance to remind a large audience about the value of what we do, and why.

Having now served as a judge for the Allan Martin Award, I urge all early career historians to put forward a project that not only challenges you, but rethinks what the point of our profession might be.

Dr Ruth Morgan Associate Professor at the Australian National University, and Director of the Centre for Environmental History

Twitter: @ruthamorgan

Winning the Allan Martin Award in 2016 allowed me to delve into the rich holdings of the Mitchell Library and the Daniel Solander Library at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, where I set out to examine the botanical exchanges between the Australian colonies, British India and Kew Gardens from the late eighteenth century through to the turn of the twentieth century. Having the time and means to explore these materials gave me a greater sense of the range of human actors involved in such exchanges, and the connections between them that facilitated their correspondence. What made the experience even better was being able to learn from librarians, such as the incredibly generous Miguel Garcia, and great friends Jodi Frawley and Richard Aitken, who were kind enough to share their knowledge about these botanical collections.

Having just dusted off my Allan Martin Award application, I’m struck by just how ambitious my research program was! I am currently revising an article based on the Allan Martin Award research for the Pacific Historical Review, in which I consider the proliferation of the Australian blue gum in southern India in the second half of the nineteenth century. Of course, once I was in the Mitchell Library, I was also able to dig into the other environmental exchanges between the Australian colonies and British India. As a result, archival material on the horse trade with India is informing a book chapter on the traffic in camels and horses across the Indian Ocean. I also anticipate looking more closely into the desires for South Asian labour in the Australian colonies, the demand for which became increasingly informed by ideas of climate suitability, particularly in northern Australia.

I recall only too well that when I applied for the Allan Martin Award, I was extremely anxious about my career prospects. My contract was coming to an end and I was yet to hear the outcome of two major grant applications. The Allan Martin Award offered a lifeline of sorts, because it provided the means to get my first post-PhD project off the ground and into the archives. The application process was also important on its own terms, a valuable exercise in crafting the proposal, scrutinising collections, and communicating the aims of the project to librarians and archivists. I’m extremely grateful for the support of the Allan Martin Award and hope to see more early career researchers benefit from this scheme. 

Have your say! AHA ECR Survey

Although we are your ECR ‘representatives’, we’re conscious of the fact that everyone’s ECR journey is unique and influenced by many factors. With that in mind, we’ve put together a short survey for you to fill out. We’d really like to get a sense of what is important to you, what you’re most concerned about, and what we as your incoming AHA representatives can do for you over the next two years.

You’re under no obligation to fill it out, and you can remain anonymous should you wish! But the best way to make sure that we are working in your best interests is to know what those interests are. We also welcome members who are in close proximity to ECR status, in either direction.

We’re looking forward to reading your thoughts and ideas!

Anna, Chelsea and Joel