Prestigious award for ACU historian

Published: Monday 15th August 2016

Dr Catherine Bishop

The Australian Women’s History Network (AWHN) has awarded Dr Catherine Bishop the Mary Bennett Prize for best article or chapter by an early career historian for her article When Your Money Is Not Your Own: Coverture and Married Women In Business in Colonial New South Wales.

Dr Bishop is part of the Historical Studies Research Concentration, located in the National School of Arts. Her article was published in Law and History Review 33.01 (2015): 181-200.

“This study of the legal, social, political and economic aspects of coverture in nineteenth-century NSW makes an original and valuable contribution to feminist history. Through a careful study of legal cases, the author charts the contested and complex nature of coverture in a society marked by its convict history. Women emerge as active participants in the colonial economy, simultaneously challenging male legal privileges, establishing their capacity for independence and demonstrating its necessity in the colonial context. Women’s actions are the harbingers of legal changes rather than mere responses to them. The author deftly weaves detailed and complex historical evidence with interesting and lively accounts of individual women making, and also manipulating, their own histories. A particular strength of this article lies in the author’s ability to lightly lead the reader through intricate and at times, contradictory, detail.”

Dr Bishop said, “I was very honoured to receive this prize, which recognises the importance both of women’s history and of the need to encourage early career researchers. I would like particularly to acknowledge the support of the ACU Historical Studies Research Concentration, an especially collegial and stimulating group of historians.”

ACU National Head of School of Arts Professor Michael Ondaatje said, “I congratulate Dr Bishop on being awarded the Mary Bennett Prize – the latest in a long line of outstanding achievements by ACU historians. The growing momentum in historical research at ACU is obvious, and the future looks very bright indeed.”

The Australian Women’s History Network presents the Mary Bennett Prize for Women’s History every two years to an early career historian for the best article or chapter in any field of women’s history in any published journal (including e-journals) or edited collection.

The prize is named in honour of Mary Montgomerie Bennett (1881-1961), a talented and relentless campaigner for human rights on the national and international stage.

Find out more about ACU's Historical Studies Research Concentration.