Dr Nell Musgrove - Nat Sch of Arts (Faculty of Education and Arts)

Fully accredited supervisor - Can supervise as principal supervisor


Dr Nell Musgrove is an Australian historian with a particular interest in the field of child welfare history. Her research is particularly concerned with the human experiences of people whose lives have been shaped by their interactions with welfare systems, and with methodological questions about how historians can hear voices from the past, especially those whose perspectives are often obscured in the historical record. Her two major monographs - The Slow Evolution of Foster Care in Australia (2018) and The Scars Remain (2013) - examine child welfare policy and practice over the course of more than a century to highlight the ways in which successive generations have been harmed by systems which claimed to protect them, and the extent to which historical failures have been recognised and addressed.

Dr Musgrove is a distinguished archival historian who has worked extensively with Australian colonial records. Her work is also characterised by collaborative research including the collection of oral histories, co-research with care-leavers and others directly impacted by the history under examination, and interdisciplinary work.

Dr Musgrove has experience supervising research students across a range of topics related to Australian history, child welfare history, gender history and Indigenous methodologies at Honours and postgraduate levels, and is an ACU accredited Higher Degree Research Supervisor.


Phone :03 9953 3208 (Melbourne)
Email :Nell.Musgrove@acu.edu.au
URIs : Staff Directory ProfilePersonal Website

Research Interests

Welfare History ; Australian Social History ; Women's History ; Child and Family Welfare History ; Historiography and Ethical Historical Practice ; Australian Indigenous History ; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History ; Indigenous History and Methodologies ; History of Childhood ;

Methods Expertise

archival research ; oral history ; Social History ; Qualitative Research ;

Research Projects

Completed Projects

  • Concepts of caring for young people in residential care in Victoria (Master) (Principal Supervisor)
  • The Significance of Individual Contributions in the history of Kildonan UnitingCare. A Victorian child welfare organisation (PhD) (Co-Supervisor)

Current Projects

  • Transgender Australians and their Interactions with the Justice System in 20th-Century Australia (PhD) (Co-Supervisor)
  • Fancy and Plain: Sewing and needlework production and exhibition by Australian women, 1890-1939 (PhD) (Principal Supervisor)
  • Aboriginal Spirituality in a Christian Context (PhD) (Co-Supervisor)

Selected Publications


Children's Voices from the Past: New Historical and Interdisciplinary Perspectives


The Slow Evolution of Foster Care in Australia - Just Like a Family?


Historical abuse in Australian child welfare: why did it happen and why does it matter?, in History of Education, Vol. 45, no. 4, pp.460-476


The role and importance of history, in Apologies and the legacy of abuse of children in 'care': International perspectives

Locating Foster Care: Place and Space in Care Leavers' Childhood Memories, in Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth (Print version)


Contained and confined: Female incarceration in nineteenth-century Australia, in Silent System: Forgotten Australians and the institutionalisation of women and children


The Scars Remain: A Long History of Forgotten Australian and Children's Institutions


"We Are the Stories We Tell About Ourselves: Child Welfare records and the construction of identity amongst Australians who, as children, experienced out-of-home 'care'", in Archives and Manuscripts, Vol. 40, no. 1, pp.4-14


Teresa Wardell: Gender, Catholicism and Social Welfare in Melbourne, in Firsts, Founders and Feminists: Women Leaders in 20th Century Australia


"Every time I think of baby I cry": dislocation and survival in Victoriaa's child welfare system, in Australian Historical Studies (print version)