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.

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What's New

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 […]

Trixie Whitehead: Intelligence and the First World War

Trixie Whitehead: Intelligence and the First World War

British intelligence tends to conjure up thoughts of MI6, James Bond and of course the Cold War. It was WWI, however, that was the first international conflict that British intelligence agencies became an important part of the government’s overall war effort. This is of particular relevance to the Expert Nation project. While doing research on the graduates of the Women’s College within the University of […]


A successful symposium, World War One, Universities and the Professions, was held on 12 & 13 October 2017  at the University of Melbourne. Papers were presented for discussion and with some development will contribute towards a publication late in 2018.

1. The Arts: Design, Music and Writing

  • Julie Willis, Mobilising Architects
  • Jackie Dickenson, The First World War, Artists and ‘The Profession of the New Era'
  • Suzanne Robinson, The Music Profession Between the Wars
  • Kate Darian-Smith & David Carter, The Writing Professions

2. Teaching, Languages and the Law

  1. Julia Horne, The Teaching Profession
  2. Jennifer Baldwin, Languages
  3. John Waugh, The Legal Profession Between the Wars

 3. Medical Sciences

  1. James Waghorne, The First World War and the Medical Services
  2. Stephen Garton, Psychiatry and the Great War
  3. Tamson Pietsch, The Development of Dentistry
  4. Joan McMeeken, Physiotherapy: the emergence of a profession
  5. Melanie Oppenheimer, Voluntarism and the professionalization of nursing during the interwar period

4. Government, Accounting and Anthropology

1. Stuart Macintyre, Useful knowledge: the contribution of universities to government between the wars 2. Warwick Anderson, Knowing Natives: Situating Anthropology in Australia Between the Wars

5. Science and Technology

  1. Katrina Dean, Science and the First World War
  2. Carolyn Rasmussen, Engineering
  3. Kate Darian-Smith, Agricultural Science
  4. John Egerton & Hannah Forsyth, The Veterinary Profession
For more information please contact
IMAGE: 1916 Science graduates - University of Sydney Archives M253 papers of Vera Adelaide Irwin-Smith