History Council of South Australia Fellowship


The HCSA Fellowship is open from 1 October until 30 November each year, submissions may be made by email to [email protected]. The successful recipient will be notified in December.

Fellowship applications for 2023-2024 are now open.


Fellowship Description

The History Council of South Australia (HCSA) Fellowship provides support for all Australians researching and writing in an area of South Australian history. It is valued up to $2,000.

The HCSA Fellowship was launched on 21 August 2020 in association with the State Library of South Australia and through the generous support of donors, including the Marsden Szwarcbord Foundation.

Fellowship holders will be expected to make use of the resources and support of the State Library of South Australia and, where appropriate, other South Australian cultural institutions and repositories in pursuing a dedicated program of historical research. Access to relevant resources and support will be facilitated by the HCSA in collaboration with the relevant institution(s).

The duration of the research work undertaken will be determined by the Fellowship holder in consultation with the HCSA and relevant institutions. It is a requirement of the Fellowship that the holder will make a presentation on the research project at a time and in a format agreed with the HCSA.

Fellowship Details

A key objective of the History Council of South Australia (HCSA) is to promote research, writing and publication specifically in the area of South Australian history. To this end the HCSA has established an annual Fellowship.

The Fellowship, valued at $2,000, will be funded from donations and the annual interest earnings accrued from a dedicated Fellowship Fund established within the framework of the Australian Cultural Fund.

The Fellowship will be awarded annually to an emerging or established historian. Advertised by the HCSA, it will be open to historians resident in Australia or abroad.

The selection of the annual Fellowship holder will be by a competitive process. A requirement of gaining a Fellowship will be for the holder to give a presentation on the research project and its findings at a time and in a format agreed with the HCSA.

The HCSA, in addition to funding the Fellowship, will also assist in putting appropriate arrangements in place with the institution(s) where the research activity is to be carried out.


2023 HCSA Fellow

The HCSA would like to congratulate the 2023 HCSA Fellow: Margaret Boult, ‘The Apothecary and the Surgeon: Medical Responsibility and Care in Early South Australia’'.

Margaret Boult's Abstract:

Most early migrants to South Australia were required to pay for medical services. Some however, were able to gain access to free care through the government-funded ‘colonial surgeon’. Exactly who was entitled to free medical care varied during the tenure of the first two colonial surgeons, Thomas Young Cotter and James Nash, who held the position from 1836 to 1856. Demands placed on these two men evolved rapidly during this period, due to local economic instability and because the rapidly increasing population exposed poverty-related health problems. In this study I will use the careers of Cotter and Nash to show how their responsibilities were linked to South Australia’s political, economic and legal climate at the time. I will also explain the extent to which these men were influenced by existing medical principles in Britain, Europe and North America. Topics will include medical professionalisation, theories of disease causation, and the origins of medical institutions in South Australia. The study will show the extent to which health practices evolved in response to the challenging and unique nature of early South Australia. 

Judges' Citation:

Margaret Boult is a medical historian and visiting researcher with the Discipline of Surgery at the University of Adelaide. Her research interests include institutional spaces, 19th century medical practitioners, and diseases such as epilepsy, smallpox, polio, particularly in the context of South Australia. The judges appreciate that she is well placed to provide a medically informed history of the role played by Colonial Surgeons Thomas Cotter and James Nash during the earliest years of the colony of South Australia.
By framing her study around these two figures, Boult is well placed to provide an engaging narrative that demonstrates how wider forces impact on the practices and attitudes of individuals at the microlevel. The judges recognise the value of examining this period of South Australia’s history through a new lens, and demonstrating how the South Australian experience fits into the broader milieu of a national history.
The judges agreed that Margaret Boult’s project will strengthen, augment and promote the current understanding of, and knowledge about, early medicine and medical practices in South Australia, and will demonstrate how existing ideas about medicine were applied under specific circumstances surrounding the founding of South Australia.


Past Fellows

2023: Mrs Margaret Boult, ‘The Apothecary and the Surgeon: Medical Responsibility and Care in Early South Australia’'. Read more here.

2022: Dr Heidi Ing, ‘Settler-Colonial Land Speculation: Investors in South Australia’s ‘Town Acres’’. Read more here.

2021: Dr Rebecca Jones, ‘Drought, flood, heat and dust: living with extreme weather in arid Australia’. Read more here.

How Can You Help?

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