Expert Nation


Our histories of the First World War often focus on those who died. This project follows those who survived as they pursued their careers in the 1920s and 30s. It presents an alternate account of the importance of WWI to Australian nation-building, one founded not on the battlefield of Gallipoli, but in the expansion and professionalization of expertise.

Recently published a collected volume, The First World War, the Universities and the Professions in Australia 1914-1939. Edited by Kate Darian-Smith and James Waghorne.

Contributors: Warwick Anderson, Jennifer Baldwin, Jennifer Bowen, David Carter, Katrina Dean, Jackie Dickenson, John Egerton, Hannah Forsythe, Stephen Garton, Julia Horne, Joan McMeeken, Stuart McIntyre, Melanie Oppenheimer, Tamson Pietsch, Carolyn Rasmussen, Anne Rees, Suzanne Robinson, John Waugh and Julie Willis.

Available now through Melbourne University Press

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What's New

Interesting Women

Interesting Women

Lois Elwood Windeyer [1894-1977] was a first year student in Arts at the University of Sydney in 1914. She followed her mother and sister to England at the outbreak of war and gave service firstly as a nurse and then as a driver in England and France. Returning to Australia in 1920 she worked in Sydney as a hire car driver in her own business, […]

New additions to the University of Melbourne War Records

New additions to the University of Melbourne War Records

Dr James Waghorne one of the Chief Investigators on the Expert Nation project published an article for Remembrance Day, November 11 2017. Appearing in the University of Melbourne’s Pursuit publication the article reveals how research for this project has identified 156 additional names, which were absent from the original University of Melbourne’s War Memorial Book. One of the names added is Dr Mary De Garis, the second […]

ARC Research Highlight

ARC Research Highlight

To coincide with ANZAC Day 2017, the Australian Research Council has published the following piece on the ExpertNation project: Expert Nation: Universities, War and 1920s and 1930s Australia—24 April 2017 The First World War was a new kind of war, arguably the first ‘modern war’ in which science and knowledge were to play a critical role. In a conflict that was fought as much by experts as by expeditionary forces, Australian university graduates played an […]


NOW PUBLISHED, The First World War, the Universities and the Professions in Australia 1914-1939.  Available from Melbourne University Press.

The book examines how Australia’s extraordinary contribution to World War I extended well beyond the nation’s military forces to the expertise of its universities and professional associations, and opportunities for training its men and women.

In making these links between the war and its impact on the universities and the professions, and in examining the complex links that existed between the universities as educational and research bodies, and the professional associations and industry they served and shaped, it teases out a new history of the war’s impact on Australia’s workforce, economy and society.

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Banner Image: 1916 Science graduates - University of Sydney Archives M253 papers of Vera Adelaide Irwin-Smith