I am a highly experienced professional historian who undertakes freelance work. 


My work has been recognised by my appointment as Honorary Associate in the Department of History, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sydney. I am an accredited Professional Member of Professional Historians Australia (NSW & ACT); a patron of the Ryde District Historical Society; have a Master of Public Health (a.e.g.) from The University of Sydney; am an Honorary Fellow of the Australian College of Nursing; and an Honorary Life Member of the Australian and New Zealand Society of the History of Medicine.

What I do

I write books, heritage significance assessments, web-based histories, and undertake research tasks of any size. My research is both in a solo capacity and in collaboration with other researchers. My last commission was to research and edit a family history of a heritage property in South Australia. Another recent family history project is the website Murray-Prior.org. I supervise research students and am an honorary associate of the Department of History, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sydney.

Publications and Reports

I have published in a wide range of peer-reviewed and other journals, and have written six books, including one co-authored book. These books have been widely and favourably reviewed in professional and other journals and have won awards. My reports have been well received by clients: the most recent report is a co-authored heritage significance assessment.
Recent publications include articles in the Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and a publication in the Ryde District Historical Society’s Ryde History Series.

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.

The Matriarch of Rockend: Emily Mary Barton, more than Banjo Paterson’s grandmother, Ryde History Series: No. 13. Available from the Ryde District Historical Society for $15 (http://www.rydehistory.org.au/our-published-works/book-order-form/). Rockend housed three generations presided over by the poet Emily Mary Barton. Other residents included her daughter the artist Emily Susan Paterson, her grand-daughter Emily Darvall Paterson who founded the mental health organisation Stride, and her grandson Banjo Paterson, Australia’s iconic poet. Rockend now houses the Banjo Paterson Restaurant, Gladesville.

Murray-Prior.org: This is an innovative family website developed in collaboration with Tom & Therese Murray-Prior and John Cameron. It documents the Murray-Prior family before Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior left England for Australia in 1838. It then traces the family as it spread around Queensland and NSW as well as those members who returned to the UK.
The website documents the family up until the current generations’ grandparents, focusing on the unbroken line (since 1773) of Thomas Murray-Priors. It explores all aspects of the family’s impact, its successes as well as failures. It demolishes myths perpetuated online and illuminates key issues in Australian history. Some of these issues are: the impact of changing fertility; the growing awareness of women’s rights; colonial family life; the invasion of Aboriginal lands; physical and mental health; literature and the arts; land dealing; and the colonial propensity to reinvent their family identity.
The website has a large number of photographs of individuals, groups and artefacts which illuminate the family history and its context. As it offers an overview of the family and the society in which they lived, it provides a correction to published views about family members which have been based on a narrow sampling of the evidence.  To access the website click on murray-prior.org.


Crown Street Women’s Hospital, a history 1893-1983 This book was published by Allen & Unwin and is the first comprehensive history of this important hospital. It is based on extensive archival research, supplemented by private records and nearly 160 interviews of staff, patients, volunteers and others. It is told from multiple perspectives and illustrated by revealing photos. It is a book to be enjoyed by general readers and specialised scholars.

Lucy Osburn, a Lady Displaced: Florence Nightingale’s Envoy to Australia This is the definite account of Lucy Osburn (1836-91). Lucy Osburn is the founder of modern nursing in Australia and learnt her vocation at the Nightingale School of Nursing in London. This book was short-listed for Australia’s 2008 National Biography Award.

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.

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.  This colourful, high-quality publication is a timely preservation of  corporate memory and sheds light on on-going issues in the management of pain.

Nursing before Nightingale, 1815–1899 This book, co-authored with Carol Helmstadter, argues that, rather than being the beginning of nursing reform, the changes associated with Florence Nightingale were the culmination of earlier reforms. This book won a major North American award and citation.

Aftercare: our journey 1907-2017 This is the history of Australia’s longest-serving mental health NGO, now called Stride. Aftercare was founded by Emily Paterson, a blind woman who spent much of her childhood living next door to Gladesville Mental Hospital. The book, edited by Aftercare’s then public relations team, was published in December 2017.