Woman Quartly, Marian


Written by Judith Smart, The University of Melbourne/RMIT University

Marian Quartly was born in Adelaide on 5 September 1942, the elder daughter of Gordon Henry Quartly, a metalworker, and Valma Jean Quartly (nee Tyler). Educated at Blair Athol State School and Wilderness School, she graduated BA (Hons) (1964) from the University of Adelaide and completed a PhD in history at Monash University, graduating in 1970. She taught courses in Historical Method and Malay History on a part-time basis at the Universiti Sains Malaysia during the early 1970s, and from 1975 worked as a tutor in Australian history at the University of Western Australia. In 1980 she was appointed as a lecturer at Monash University, and worked there until her retirement as Professor Emerita in 2006, with a spell as Dean of Arts from 1994-1999. She was one of the first women to be appointed as a dean at Monash, the first to a position advertised competitively.

Quartly's research has focused on Australian social history, with particular interests in the history of the family, religion and gendered citizenship. Like many women historians her research activities have been almost entirely collaborative, and the leadership skill exercised in these projects has been collegiate rather than heroic. Examples include the researching and writing of Australians 1838 1838, a pioneering exercise in ethnographic history; the collecting and editing of Documents in Westralian History, a working example of how to read documents against the grain; the creation and sustaining of the group of women historians who produced Double Time, a collection of biographies of unknown Victorian women; the co-writing of the path-breaking feminist history of Australia, Creating a Nation; and most recently the History of Adoption project, involving the collation of oral and written sources and the writing of The Market in Babies: Stories of Australian Adoption.

Quartly has helped initiate a long list of innovations for the historical profession. These have included organisations such as the Australian Historical Association and the History Institute of Victoria. She has been founder or cofounder of two historical journals, the Push from the Bush and History Australia, both of which helped break down the barriers between academic and public history in Australia, and pioneered new approaches and methodologies. Her least successful pioneering venture to date has been her attempt to persuade the profession to include as an essential part of their historical practice the visual and aural evidence now available by digital means.

Archival Resources

National Library of Australia Oral History Collection

  • Marian Quartly interviewed by Susan Marsden [sound recording], 26 October 2005, ORAL TRC 5545; National Library of Australia Oral History Collection. Details

Published Resources

Online Resources

See also