Judith Godden
I am a highly experienced professional historian who undertakes freelance work. My research interests are broad, but I have a particular passion for the history of healthcare provision and hospitals, social welfare history, and biography. I am available for a range of commissioned work including published books, heritage significance assessments, and web-based histories.

What I do

I research and write commissioned history. I have a particular interest in healthcare given my experience as an academic at the University of Sydney for over twenty years, mostly in the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery where I was Head of the Department of Behavioural and Social Sciences in Nursing and more recently in the School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine. Medicine. My recent work includes histories of : the Australian Pain Society; Crown Street Women’s Hospital; and the mental health organisation Aftercare. I am currently working part-time on an innovative web-based family history – the draft version can be viewed at https://www.jctest234.com/mpwiki .

Publications and Reports

I have published extensively in a wide range of peer-reviewed and other journals. My first book, Lucy Osburn, a Lady Displaced. Florence Nightingale’s Envoy to Australia (available from Sydney University Press), was short-listed for Australia’s 2008 National Biography Award. My co-authored book Nursing before Nightingale, 1815–1899 won a North American award and citation. My books have been widely and favourably reviewed in professional and other journals. My reports have been well received by clients: the most recent report is a co-authored heritage significance assessment.

Public Speaking/History Promotion

As a qualified teacher and experienced lecturer, I frequently give talks on my work to a wide variety of audiences, from community groups to academic conferences. Additionally, I actively promote history through various professional bodies. For more information, see About Judith above.


For more information on Judith click here.

My Books

Crown Street Women’s Hospital, a history 1893-1983 This book was published by Allen & Unwin in January 2017. It is the first comprehensive history of the hospital from its founding until its closure in 1983, and is told from multiple perspectives. It is based on extensive archival research, supplemented by private records and nearly 160 interviews of a range of staff, patients and others. As well, it is illustrated with a range of revealing photos. It is a book to be enjoyed by both general readers and specialised scholars.

Aftercare: our journey 1907-2017 (see http://www.aftercare.com.au). Aftercare: its journey 1907-2017 is the history of Australia’s longest-serving mental health NGO, commissioned by Aftercare's then CEO John Malone. Aftercare was founded by Emily Paterson (pictured, circa 1940), a blind woman who spent much of her childhood living at Rockend Cottage, next door to Gladesville Mental Hospital. The book, edited by Aftercare’s then public relations team, was published in December 2017. It is available by clicking here .

Australia's Controversial Matron: Gwen Burbidge and Nursing Reform This is a compelling account of Gwen Burbidge, (1904-2000), one of the first Australian nurses to write a nursing textbook and a controversial nursing reformer. She improved nurses' working, living and educational conditions.

Lucy Osburn, a Lady Displaced: Florence Nightingale's Envoy to Australia This is the definite account of Lucy Osburn (1836-1891). Lucy was the founder of modern nursing in Australia who also pioneered the employment of high status professional women in public institutions. Osburn learnt her vocation at Florence Nightingale's school of nursing in London.

Australian Pain Society - The First 35 Years The Australian Pain Society is a not-for-profit organisation that was formed in 1979 as the Australasian Chapter of the International Association for the Study of Pain. In 2015 the society marked their 35th anniversary by commissioning Judith Godden to produce a history of the society. The result was the colourful and high quality book, "Australian Pain Society: the first 35 years".

Nursing before Nightingale, 1815–1899 This book, co-authored with Carol Helmstadter, investigates two major earlier reforms in nursing: a doctor-driven reform which came to be called the 'ward system,' and the reforms of the Anglican Sisters, known as the 'central system' of nursing. Rather than being the beginning of nursing reform, Nightingale nursing was the culmination of these two earlier reforms.