J.S. Battye Memorial Fellowship

A grant for researchers and scholars.
Applications extended until Monday 6 December 2021.


Applications close 4:30pm Monday 6 December 2021.

James Sykes Battye was the State Library’s Chief Librarian from 1894-1954. The James Sykes Battye Memorial Fellowship acknowledges his career as an historian and collector of West Australian historical material. The Fellowship was established through the Leah Jane Cohen Library Bequest to enhance understanding of Western Australia through research based on the State Library’s heritage collections.

Eligibility and Terms of Fellowship

Applications are open to Western Australian residents who are researchers or scholars, including University based researchers, on topics relating to West Australian history. Research must be based on the collections of the J.S. Battye Library of West Australian History and will result in a report. The research may lead to future publication and public programs at the State Library of Western Australia.

Fellowships are not available to:

  • current State Library of Western Australia employees; or
  • researchers based outside of Western Australia.

The successful applicant will be entitled to:

  • A monetary amount up to $10,000, paid in instalments upon the completion of agreed milestones;
  • Support from a State Library Subject Specialist, at the discretion of the Battye Historian;
  • Waiver of photocopy and digital copy charges at the discretion of the Battye Historian;
  • Physical access to the J.S. Battye Library of West Australian History and other State Library collections at the discretion of the Battye Historian;
  • An induction tour and introduction to staff and library facilities; and
  • Use of State Library venues and equipment for public presentations associated with Fellowship research, up to an agreed value.

The successful applicant will be required to take up and complete the Fellowship within 2022 calendar year. They will be required to sign a contract with the State Library of Western Australia agreeing to:

  • Produce a 2000-word report on the process and results of the research, detailing the benefits of the Fellowship;
  • Grant the State Library of Western Australia the right to publish the results of the research on the State Library website;
  • Deposit two copies of any work produced with the State Library;
  • Be available for publicity purposes, including interviews with the media, to promote the results of the Fellowship and acknowledge the support of the State Library of Western Australia in any publication or promotion;
  • Contribute to the public programs of the State Library of Western Australia as the opportunity arises.

Selection Process

All applications will be assessed by a Fellowship Panel comprising the Director Library Services, a member of the Library Board of Western Australia, and an independent scholar. Canvassing of Panel members is not permitted. The successful applicant will be announced in 2022.

Applications need to demonstrate:

  1. Research outcomes that enhance public understanding of the Battye Library collection
  2. Research outcomes that help the State Library fulfil its strategic goal to ‘reveal Western Australia’s rich history and stories’
  3. Proven ability to meet research outcomes and communicate these outcomes

The Fellowship Committee may interview short-listed applicants.

All applicants will be notified informing them of the Committee’s decision, which is regarded as final. No discussion or correspondence will be entered into concerning the Committee’s decision.


John Hughes
Senior Subject Specialist
State Library of Western Australia
Phone: 08 9427 3476
Email: fellowships@slwa.wa.gov.au

How to Apply

Applications opened on Monday 1 November 2021, and the closing date has been extended until Monday 6 December 2021. Late applications will not be considered.

A project proposal and CV need to be uploaded during the application process as separate documents (PDF only).

All applicants will receive an automated email confirming their application. If you would like to receive a copy of your application for your records, please email fellowships@slwa.wa.gov.au.


Please provide a project proposal of no more than 3 pages, ensuring it responds to all the criteria below.  

Project title (max. 50 words) 

Project summary (max. 200 words) 
•    Plain English summary suitable for general publicity. 
•    Nature of the project. 
•    Expected benefits to the Fellowship.   

Project Description (max. 500 words) 
•    Expected milestones. 
•    Expected use of Battye Library collections. 
•    List any specific Battye Library collections/materials you propose to use. 
•    Project outcomes. 

Benefits to Fellowship (max. 500 words) 
•    Outline why you have applied for the Fellowship. 
•    Expected benefits you would derive from the Fellowship. 
•    Potential benefits for the State Library, the research community, and the general public. 

•    Outline expected timings for project milestones. 

Please list your major relevant publications and public presentations

Please give the name and contact details of 2 referees

Acknowledgement of Terms
  • I have read and understood the information for applicants for the James Sykes Battye Memorial Fellowship.
  • I certify to the best of my knowledge all details submitted in this application are correct.
  • I understand that if at any time during the Fellowship it is found that I have deliberately misrepresented myself in this application the Fellowship may be withdrawn immediately.

Past J S Battye Memorial Fellows

Dr Ethan Blue - The Deaths in Custody Watch Committee of Western Australia: A Living History.

During his fellowship, Ethan progressed his manuscript detailing the history of the First Nations Deaths in Custody Watch Committee of Western Australia. This part of his research focused on the committee records held by the State Library.

Dr Anne Scrimgeour - Striking for Rights, writing the Strike: the Pilbara Aboriginal and Cooperative Movement 1945-1960.  

Anne’s research used the State Library’s Western Australian collections to investigate the 1945-1960 Pilbara Aboriginal Strike and Cooperative movement. She explored the Battye Library collections to reveal how people like Katharine Susannah Prichard, J. K. Ewers, Joan Williams and Bert Vickers wrote about these events. Anne also investigated the activism of significant figures such as Nyangumarta woman, Daisy Bindi. This research informed State Library exhibitions associated with the 1967 Referendum 50th anniversary.

Ian Reid - History’s Grist and Fiction’s Mill.  

Ian’s project explored the challenges and opportunities for creative writers of historical fiction. He argued that well researched historical fiction, written with respect for historical evidence can be an effective means of introducing larger audiences to Western Australian history and stories.

Clint Bracknell - Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories.  

Clint’s research was focused on the reconstruction and translation of Noongar songs from the unpublished notes of Daisy Bates. He has been able to identify and profile a number of Noongar singers and composers from the early 1900s. His work offers insight into the resilience of Noongar singing traditions and contributes to the ongoing language maintenance and intergenerational transmission of language. This work was part of a larger Noongar language project which aims to create new Noongar language resources.  While Battye Fellow Clint gave a number of public talks, including Koora koorliny, maya dalanginy and Nadj Nidj Maaya.

Jane Davis - Longing or Belong? Finding Home in Colonial Western Australia.  

Jane set out to challenge widely held assumptions about settlers and the Australian environment. She researched twenty one colonists, who settled in the South West between 1829 and 1907; she looked at the extent to which they developed a sense of home and belonging through their relationships and perceptions of the new landscapes encountered.  Some of her findings highlighted State Library resources and gave insight into the response of colonists to their new home.  Jane presented a number of public talks, sharing her research, methodology and findings. She also curated the Finding Home exhibition at the State Library in 2012.

Sue Graham-Taylor - Swan River Stories.

Sue studied the history and environment of the Swan River, focusing on Perth Water – the area of the river approximately from Kings Park to the Causeway.  At the completion of her fellowship, Sue provided an overview of the environment, and social and political history of Perth Water. She profiled State Library resources and made it a useful tool for those interested in the general history of Perth Water.  In addition to this Sue also presented public talks and hosted a public forum, where members of the Perth community were invited to share their memories and stories of the Swan River.

Last updated on 24 November 2021