Circa Prize 2018

Winner of the Circa Prize 2018

Professional Historians Australia awards a prize for the best article published in each edition of Circa The Journal of Professional Historians. Michael Bennett of PHA (NSW & ACT) has been awarded the Circa Prize for 2018. The judges also highly commended the article submitted by Margaret Cook of PHA (Qld) and Annabel Lloyd.

All articles submitted to Circa are eligible for the prize. The judging panel is comprised of three professionally accredited PHA members from three different state or territory PHAs. The judges for the 2018 prize were Dr Jonathan Richards (Qld), Professor Jenny Gregory (WA), and Dr Carla Pascoe (Vic & Tas).

Judges’ Report

All the submitted articles succeeded in meeting the focus and scope of Circa, ‘to publish work that reflects the many styles, themes and formats embraced by professional historians, to establish a dialogue between professional historians and to promote the profession to a wider audience’. Each writer demonstrated their command of the topic and all chose appropriate (though differing) approaches. Most articles were well organised and clearly written. Some authors, however, outlined and achieved their intentions better than others. The judges selected two articles that they believed were the most interesting to read, and awarded the 2018 Circa prize to one which they felt identified an important gap.

Michael Bennett: ‘Pathfinders: NSW Aboriginal Trackers and Native Title History’

‘Pathfinders’ is well written and structured and its use of Native Title historical reports is novel and innovative, opening up unexplored aspects of our history, in this case the history of Aboriginal Trackers. This is an important and neglected aspect of Australian history. The website outcome is innovative and ensures wide and free access to the history. Moreover, bearing in mind confidentiality issues which the writer has been very aware of, the project may encourage further use of Native Title historical reports as a primary source. The judges appreciated the way that the writer described how respectful dialogues with the Aboriginal community produced a public history, and were intrigued by the political and legal implications of this historical research. This is an important topic, and really deserves to be widely known.

Highly commended
Margaret Cook and Annabel Lloyd: ‘Unpacking a Legend’

The judges found it an interesting premise for a paper, to go behind the scenes of an historical legend. The writing was gripping and descriptive. Great detective work nonetheless! We particularly appreciated the writers’ reflections on the women left out of this heroic, masculinist legend. A salient feature was the tribute to an archivist. Archivists and librarians are, as we all know, some of the best friends of historians, and this piece reinforced that connection perfectly. If the archivist had not opened the box, there would be no story. Without the historian, the archivist is shouting into an empty room. Well-written and an effective investigation of a real history mystery.

Professional Historians Australia congratulates the prize-winners and thanks the judging panel for their dedication to the task.

Walgett tracker and police, c. 1893. Courtesy of the Walgett Police Station.

Walgett tracker and police, c. 1893. Courtesy of the Walgett Police Station.

Fiona Poulton