National book award for USC academics

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National book award for USC academics


Published on 18 September 2012

18 September 2012

Two University of the Sunshine Coast academics who co-authored a book that revealed the intriguing history of Australia’s Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet have won a national award.

USC Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Business Professor Joanne Scott and USC Lecturer in Politics Bronwyn Stevens, along with third co-author Professor Patrick Weller of Griffith University, received a prestigious Mander Jones Award.

The awards are presented annually by the Australian Society of Archivists to honour the work of the late archivist Phyllis Mander Jones.

The academics’ 360-page hardcover book, From Postbox to Powerhouse: A Centenary History of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, was published by Allen & Unwin a year ago.

It won in the category of Best Publication that uses, features or interprets Australian archives, written or edited by a person in their own right.

The book documents the responsibilities and growing power of the Department including a chronology of events such as John Howard flying home from America after the September 11 attacks and Harold Holt going missing at sea.

The co-authors received the award at last month’s International Council on Archives Congress held in Brisbane, attended by 1,000 delegates from around the world.

Professor Scott and Ms Stevens said the honour recognised the long process of researching the book, which proved challenging and rewarding.

“It was a pleasure to have the time to go through the Archives at the National Archives of Australia and the National Library in Canberra and a real privilege to have access to those held in the Department,” said Ms Stevens.

Professor Scott described an almost overwhelming quantity of archival material relating to the 100-year period covered in the book.

“As researchers we spent day after day, month after month, working through file after file after file,” she said. “There were frustrating days when we didn't find what we hoped to but there were also great days when we found unexpected information that took us in new directions.”

Award judge Peter Crush said the book was “an excellent work” and “a useful addition to Australian administrative history.”

— Julie Schomberg

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