The John Adam prize is awarded by the Royal Historical Society of Victoria for the best article or historical note on Victorian history in the four VHJ issues over two calendar years. The prize is awarded for an article or historical note that illuminates a significant element of Victoria’s history, is clearly and succinctly written, and is researched from original material.
Prize winner for 2020-2022 – Mary Sheehan
A Grassroots View of Spanish Influenza in Melbourne by Mary Sheehan, Victorian Historical Journal, vol 93, no 2, December 2022, pp 349-372.
The Covid 19 pandemic has sparked renewed interest in its predecessor, the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1919. This well-researched and lucid account of the three phases of the pandemic in Melbourne demonstrates how divisions between medical and public, central and local authorities affected the provision of emergency hospital care, especially in impoverished districts. While the First World War heightened vulnerability to the epidemic, it also stimulated the formation of Voluntary Aid Detachments and patriotic groups that could be mobilised in the response to the disease. The article blends exploration of public policy with case studies of the disease’s impact on stricken families in North Melbourne and Cremorne. The author’s perspective as a one-time nurse heightens her insightful contribution to the history of epidemics in Australia.
Judges: Emeritus Professor Graeme Davison AO, FAHA, FASSA, FFAHS, FRHSV and Carole Woods OAM, FRHSV