Expert Nation: universities, war and 1920s & 30s Australia

Expert Nation is an ARC funded Discovery Project, led by Dr Tamson Pietsch (UTS), Associate Professor Julia Horne and Professor Stephen Garton (USyd), Professor Kate Darian Smith (UTas) and Dr James Waghorne (UMelb). 

It investigates how Australian university graduates, with World War One experience contributed to the formation of the post-war Australian nation, and theorises the relationship between Australia’s participation in World War One and the production and dissemination of expert knowledge, including the creation of new professions in the 1920s and 1930s. In doing so, the project plans to shift the focus of analysis from the ANZACs as a generic category, towards specific groups of ANZACs and their education and training and impact on the development of Australia, placing knowledge and expertise at the heart of the national story in the interwar years.

Expert Nation database

As part of the project we are creating a new national archives infrastructure, unlocking and bringing together the records of approximately six thousand men and women from the universities of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Tasmania, Queensland and Western Australia with records from the Australian War Memorial and from personal collections. Search the Expert Nation database >>

This database builds on the success of Beyond 1914—The University of Sydney and the Great War>>a community resource developed at the University of Sydney to provide access to digitized records such as photographs, letters and diaries as well as biographical information for over 2,500 men and women who served on foreign soil.

Expert Nation and Beyond 1914 both use the Heurist data management system – an integrated, free and open source web-based tool developed by Dr Ian Johnson at the University of Sydney, that enables Humanities researchers to build complex databases without investing in technical expertise. For more information visit http://heuristnetwork.org


This project is keen to work with any researchers, honours students, community and school groups, teachers and volunteers interested in helping trace the lives and careers of the more than 6000 university men and women who had World War One experience. If you would like to help us, please get in touch.


Senior Research Officer expert.nation@sydney.edu.au