Woman Smart, Judith (1950 - )

20 October 1950
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Written by Sharon M. Harrison, The University of Melbourne

Judith Smart was born in Melbourne on 20 October 1950, the daughter of Donald James Smart (ski manufacturer) and Iris Melba Smart (née Tainsh), his business partner. Educated at Tooronga Road and Spring Road State Schools, Malvern, and MacRobertson Girls High School, she graduated BA (Hons) (1971), Dip. Ed. (1972) from Monash University and later completed a doctorate in history at Monash, graduating in 1992. She taught at Sandringham Technical School in 1973, then at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (later RMIT University) from 1974 until her retirement in 2005. She is currently an Adjunct Professor at RMIT University and a Principal Fellow at the University of Melbourne.

Smart's historical research and published work has focused on the social and political history of the Australian homefront during World War I, particularly Melbourne (then the national capital), on Australian women's organisations throughout the twentieth century, as well as on women and political protest, women and religion, the Miss Australia beauty contest, and the Billy Graham Crusade. Although she has published widely on radical and labour movement women and brought to light previously unknown grassroots protests by working-class women, her major contribution to historical scholarship in the field of women's history has probably been in the exploration of conservative and mainstream women's organisations such as the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, the powerful Australian Women's National League, the state and federal Housewives Associations, whose membership in their heyday outnumbered that of any other single women's organisation, and, most recently (with Marian Quartly), the National Councils of Women, umbrella organisations representing many hundreds of women's societies throughout the various Australian states. Smart was an early participant in Women's Liberation at Monash University, was on the organising committee of the second Women and Labour Conference held in Melbourne in 1980, and is a long-term member of the Melbourne Feminist History Group.

Judith Smart was the first woman appointed to edit the leading Australian historical journal, Australian Historical Studies, a position she held from 1995 to 1999. During her tenure, she edited a special issue of the journal, Twenty Years On (April 1996), to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the publication of five key texts in Australian women's history (Miriam Dixson's The Real Matilda, Anne Summers' Damned Whores and God's Police, Beverley Kingston's My Wife, My Daughter and Poor Mary Ann, Edna Ryan and Anne Conlon's Gentle Invaders, and the collection edited by Ann Curthoys, Susan Eade (Magarey) and Peter Spearitt, Women at Work). She has since edited the Royal Historical Society of Victoria's Victorian Historical Journal and was made a Fellow of the RHSV in 2012. She is currently deputy chair of the History Council of Victoria and vice-president of the Federation of Australian Historical Societies.

Smart is the co-editor of Consumer Australia: Historical Perspectives, with Robert Crawford and Kim Humphery (2011); and Founders, Firsts and Feminists: Women Leaders in Twentieth-century Australia, Fiona Davis and Nell Musgrove (2011). She has published numerous book chapters and journal articles and has also contributed to the Australian Dictionary of Biography; the Encyclopedia of Melbourne; the Oxford Companion to Australian Feminism; and the Oxford Companion to Australian History.

Additional sources: Personal communication between Judith Smart and Sharon M. Harrison, 11 August 2013.

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