Keynote address & thesis prize for early career historian

Keynote address & thesis prize for early career historian
Dr Emily Gallagher at the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh.
Tuesday 9 July 2024

The past week has been an extra exciting one for the NCB's research editor and children's historian Dr Emily Gallagher. 

On Thursday 4 July Emily was announced as the winner of the prestigious Serle Award for her thesis 'The Childhood Imagination in Australia, 1890-1940', which she completed at the ANU in 2023. This prize is awarded bienially by the Australian Historical Association for the best postgraduate thesis in Australian history. The judges' citation attests to the creativity, originality, and attention to detail that Emily brings to her work (not only her thesis, but her research editing at the NCB too). They said:

'This thesis was extremely beautiful, wonderfully crafted both in structure and content, and highly inventive in its use of sources and argument. It also displayed a very impressive engagement with local and international literature. Gallagher’s focus on child’s play and imagination as an expression of power, agency and autonomy unavailable to the child in other contexts is explored in a lively way by her analysis and thoughtful commentary on a series of case studies which prove this point effectively. Developing an inventive methodology, Gallagher has accessed a range of settler and Aboriginal children’s stories, memories, archives and oral history that reflect a regional and local sense of place while also revealing wider national trends. A highlight is the way she places the flourishing of children’s imagination within the context of the ideals of creativity and child-centredness in the Australian education system in the period under review and the increased democratic access to writing materials and newspapers in the twentieth century. The judges appreciated and admired Gallagher’s determination to take children seriously in their own right and on their own terms. She makes a striking contribution to children’s and educational history in Australia and internationally.'

The award was accepted on Emily's behalf by her former supervisor, Professor Frank Bongiorno, as she was in the UK at the Children's History Society conference, where she had been specially invited to deliver a keynote address on 'The Childhood Imagination'. This is a remarkable achievement for someone so early in their academic career, and by all accounts it was a great success.

A huge congratulations to Emily from everyone at the NCB!

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