In 2021, PHA Qld hosted the Professional Historians Australia National Conference, hosted online on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 September 2021. This page is preserved as a record of those proceedings.

History Transmitted: connect – consider – challenge
A Conference for Professional Historians

The historian’s job in the 21st century is richer than ever before. Technological advances have created new audiences with diverse needs, and allowed historians to chart and chronicle the past in ways that have never been conceived before. These developments in our profession have created new challenges and new learnings, which were interrogated in the 2021 Professional Historians Australia conference, hosted online on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 September 2021. 

The 2021 conference featured a diverse range of speakers, with keynote by Professor Melanie Nolan, Director of the National Centre of Biography at the Australian National University, and General Editor of the Australian Dictionary of Biography. In her presentation, Professor Nolan reviewed the ADB’s current cultural journey amid the transition to a digital environment, the matter of diversity and the rise of transnationalism.

On day two, Dr Ian Britain, honorary senior research fellow in the School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne, delivered an extended presentation on the challenges of censorship and public attitudes towards sensitive issues. Other discussions on navigating multiple stories in historic narratives, providing space for multiple voices in history, and challenges of interpreting historical source material featured in the rich conference program.  

NOTE: The Conference organising committee reviewed the changing COVID situation and decided to host an online conference format only.

For any further enquiries regarding the 2021 conference, please contact

Registration fees

Membership Online  
Member – PHA $80.00  
Non-member $100.00  
Student $80.00  

Professional Historians Australia offered two bursaries to support PHA members to attend the 2021 conference. For details of these bursaries, see PHA Conference Bursary and Honest History PHA Bursary.

Program: Professional Historians Australia Conference
History Transmitted: connect – consider – challenge


9.30 – 9.45 Linking online

9.45 – 11.15 Welcome – First session Keynote
Melanie Nolan, Professor of History, Director of the National Centre of Biography and General Editor of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, School of History, Australian National University
Tinkering with the Temple of Fame: the National Centre of Biography and the ADB

11.15 – 11.25 Break [Morning Tea]

11.25 – 1.00 Second session
Jan Richardson Polyangulating the dots: searching for convicts and emancipists in free settlement Queensland
Indyana Z Horobin Hodgepodge: telling war stories
Bill Metcalf History transmitted: professional family memoirs

1.00– 1.30 Break [Lunch]

1.30 – 2.35 Third session
Bianka Balanzategui The Mercer Lane mosaic: public art aiding cyclone recovery
Katherine Sheedy and Fiona Poulton How to write a history when the community doesn’t care

2.35 – 2.45 Tea/coffee
Deb Lee-Talbot Working with unique post-war archives: an examination of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1953-2021 [Pre-recorded paper]

2.45 – 3.50 Fourth session
Judith Nissen and Colin Hester Nominating a precinct to the Queensland Heritage Register: You want to list what? And that too?
Jennifer Harrison So many pasts within the past: Commemorative history considered

3.50 – 4.50 Drinks [at home] and Entertainment
Jonathan Richards Death by stupidity


9.30 -9.45 Linking online

9.45 – 10.45 First session
Ian Britain Censoring our past: what are our cultural gatekeepers up to?

10.45 – 10.55 Break [Morning Tea]

10.55 – 12.30 Second session
Sandra Kearney Connecting with the Archives: a new approach to understanding correspondence between enquirers and the Australian Red Cross Information Bureau in World War I
Allison O’Sullivan How do niche histories find and grow their audience?
Mary Howells Anyone can write history, can’t they? (The diary of a detective without a gun)

12.30 – 1.00 Break [Lunch]

1.00 – 2.40 Third session
Jonathan Richards Archie Meston, historian transmitted
Panel: Neville Buch, Tim Roberts, Deborah Jordan, Anne Monsour Culture in Queensland setting

2.40 – 2.50 Break [Afternoon Tea]

2.50 – 4.00 Fourth session and closing remarks
Helen Penrose and Sophie Church Connecting with leaders
Alicia Cerreto and Jen Rose Working with community organisations: challenges and opportunities