Postgraduate Research Students

Michael Kitson

The Granthams Legacy: Butchers and Amateur Archaeologists of East Yorkshire 

This thesis is about the Granthams: Cecil and Eric, father and son, butchers and amateur archaeologists in Driffield, East Yorkshire, UK, who, lived across the twentieth century and established an extraordinary collection of largely Neolithic and Iron Age artefacts of bone, flint, pottery, bronze and iron, obtained from local fieldwalking and excavation of the nearby Wolds and with which, they established a modest private museum in their backyard.

While the Granthams were largely influenced by another local nineteenth century antiquarian, collector and ‘barrow digger’, John Robert Mortimer – his book and purpose-built museum in Driffield – father, Cecil’s own interest was sparked as a 17-year-old soldier, first in basic training when he found Samian ware in his practice trench and then on the Somme, where he pulled fine stone axes from his trench walls. 

My areas of inquiry in regard to the Granthams, concern, amateur soldier archaeologists in the trenches of Belgium and France, the tensions between amateurs and professionals, the Granthams’ own museology and how to address the value of knowledge production with the Granthams’ collecting and their collection, as case study.

[Cecil Grantham in his butchers uniform with bloodied whites standing out the front of the Granthams’ purpose-built museum and holding a prehistoric urn. C. 1976. Photo Martin Green.]


[Cecil Grantham in B&W in the Grantham Museum from around 1960 –photographer is unknown but the image is held in the possession of Peter Makey.]

Fiona Gatt

The History of Hotham/North Melbourne

The area we now call the suburb of North Melbourne was destined to be urbanised as soon as the European settlement of Melbourne had proven successful. Sub-divided in 1852, its early years were shaped by the needs of those who came to Melbourne en-route to the goldfields and those who came to settle. There was a frontier uncertainty and promise of opportunity, which residents felt so strongly they established themselves as a municipality when only about one-half of the municipal area was even built on. What is urbanisation in this context? What or who shaped the material environment and what relationship did this have with the society that developed there in the nineteenth century?

Fiona’s thesis aims to recover the lived experience of nineteenth century urbanisation on Melbourne’s colonial urban frontier, focusing on the town of Hotham, now known as the suburb of North Melbourne. Fiona’s research delves into the quantitative data of the rate books, using urban history techniques, but blended with qualitative insights to achieve a recreative mode, of more intimate details of the urbanisation process.

In her work Fiona explores the complex interplay of opportunities, occupations and ownership of the material environment which informed the development of Hotham society.

Evangeline Jarman 

Freudenberg to Freeden: Negotiating expectations and experiences of Jewish emigrees to Western Australia

My thesis examines the histories of European Jewish refugee emigres to Australia prior to, during and after the Holocaust, specifically the impact of their transnational associations on Australia’s cultural and social landscape, and the ways in which investigation of these themes can inform the curatorial practise used to interpret the object collections of these journeys.

Although they never constituted more than 1% of Australia’s overall population, the contributions of this small but disproportionately influential community to Australia’s social, political and cultural development have been the subject of research for many years. Historians have been particularly drawn to exploring the cultural and social changes brought on by the wave of Jewish emigres to Australia in the twentieth century, which led the Jewish population in Australia to almost triple in size, swelling to 61,000 between 1938 and 1961.

My research situates itself within this scholarship, drawing on a transnational historical approach to assess these subjects further. The physical journeys made by these emigres were mirrored by an imaginative one, along which they carried ‘intangible luggage’ from Europe (cultural traditions, experiences, professional practise, skills, memory and trauma) to Australia. For many, settlement and acculturation to Australia was shaped by their negotiations with and challenges to these transnational connections, often expressed through the ways in which they accessed and were allowed to access their ‘intangible luggage’. At this early stage, my thesis plans to explore firstly the ways in which these emigres negotiated with the transnational characteristics, connections and identities that these journeys brought with them to their new lives in Australia, and secondly how these negotiations manifested within the social and cultural landscape they now inhabited.

Joining this exploration of these themes of Jewish emigree history, transnationalism and cultural impact, my thesis also enters the field of museum studies. As discussed, it considers the history, processes and products of these negotiations between Jewish emigres and their transnational associations. This project then plans to explore the application and interpretation of these conclusions over ‘intangible luggage’ through the very tangible object collections of these individuals held museums and galleries. The practise of using collections to explore migrant stories has been the focus of immigration museums for many years.

This second component builds on my past work curating the WA Museum’s Stanwix Collection, which tells the story of the Freudenbergs, a family of Jewish German refugees who escaped to Perth, Australia in 1938. The family’s physical and imaginative journeys indeed carried alongside them both material and intangible luggage, which served as ongoing transnational connections between their Australia and Germany.  In Australia, the Freudenbergs negotiated with these elements in different ways: they disavowed them in some instances, while fervently relying on them in others. Adding a further layer to these processes, the family’s access to their German-ness navigated boundaries enacted upon them by the Australian state, the Third Reich, the existing Anglo-Australian Jewry and mainstream Perth society, which restricted what elements and connections they were permitted to access, how and when. However, it was within these very negotiations that the Freudenbergs cultivated their influence over the social landscape surrounding them, resulting in their founding of two new, significant communities in post-war Perth: the Temple David Progressive Synagogue (1952) and the State’s first opera company, the WA Opera Society (1947).

With plans to include further case studies from the Jewish Holocaust Centre in Melbourne, the aim of this museological research is in exploring how the conclusions drawn from a transnational lens applied to the specific historical contexts of Jewish emigres can inform the curatorial practises used to tell their stories.

Rachael Cottle

 Women of the Victorian Railway

This thesis examines gender and railway heritage by looking at the material culture and memory of women of the Victorian Railways and their representation in railway heritage. By undertaking a multi-case study of railway heritage museums and collections, it will respond to the central research question ‘How have the women of the Victorian Railways (VR) been represented in railway heritage museums and collections between 1970 and 2020?’.

The project begins with an exploration of women’s employment in the Victorian Railways during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Through analysis of primary sources, including correspondence and Annual Reports from the Victorian Railways; company periodicals including The Victorian Railways Magazine; Australian Railways Union resolutions and correspondence; Victorian parliamentary papers; and local and state newspapers, the research will be published in a chapter as an investigation of women’s work in the Victorian Railways, including the different roles they held and the ways in which policy affected them. Further it will show how women have been represented in official records and the authorised history of the Department. This history will provide the empirical basis for a critique of the collections found in railway museums.

Railway history and heritage is on display in a wide array of sites including railway museums, preservation groups and heritage railways, however, very few of these sites recognise women’s work on the railways. There were over thirty positions in which women were employed by the Victorian Railways, including Gatekeeper, Station mistress, Waiting-room-attendants, Clerks, Porters and roles in workshops. Despite this diversity of positions, women of the VR are typically represented in domestic roles as staff of the Refreshment Services Branch. Women employed in other positions are rarely represented in railway heritage, if at all.

This research aims to discover women’s histories in existing railway heritage museums and collections by undertaking a longitudinal analysis of four railway heritage collections in Victoria These collections comprise a railway heritage collection held by a major state museum; a railway museum with an extensive rolling stock collection; a tourist railway in regional Victoria; and a local history museum in North Eastern Victoria. These museums have been selected to give a representative sample of railway heritage collections within Victoria. Comparisons will be made with railway and transport museums in South Australia, New South Wales and England.


Using a critical archival studies methodology, each case study provides an analysis  of material held within that organisation, including the context of accession; cataloguing; permanent and temporary exhibitions; and items from the organisations’ archive. In addition to a comparison of railway heritage collections in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and England, this research will uncover how different approaches to collection affect the representation of women; how has collection and interpretation changed over time; and what new stories can be found. This research will provide strategies to address the problem of absence of women in railway heritage.

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