Bristol Benjamin Meaker Distinguished Visiting Professor Tanya Evans, Macquarie University, Australia

Community and Collaborative History projects in International Perspective

Visit dates to be confirmed for 2021/22


Dr Tanya Evans is a public historian who specializes in the history of the family, motherhood, poverty and sexuality in Britain and Australia from the 18th century through to the present. She is passionate about researching ordinary people and places in the past and co-creating historical knowledge with diverse communities.

Her first three books were about the history of 'illegitimacy', poverty and philanthropy. Her third book Fractured Families: Life on the Margins in Colonial New South Wales (2015) was a history of Australia's oldest surviving charity The Benevolent Society and she wrote this in collaboration with family historians and the charity. She loves teaching and producing public history and working in teams. She curates exhibitions, writes for general as well as academic readers, politicians and social policy makers and makes radio and television programs based on her scholarship. She pitches her work at a variety of audiences because her research is targeted at disrupting people's assumptions about the history of the family. It questions supposedly 'authoritative' or 'commonsensical' knowledge about family life in the past. She is committed to the democratisation of historical knowledge but also to analyzing what that means. Her last book was published by New South Press and is a community history of the Spit Swimming Club at Balmoral Beach. She is continuing to write an ‘ordinary people’s history’ of motherhood in Australia from the Dreaming to the Present for the National Library of Australia in collaboration with family historians and community historical organisations while continuing to research and write for scholarly audiences about the different ways in which family history is practiced in Australia, England and Canada.


Public historians have long been committed to democratizing history and broadening audiences for our work.. Scholars need to work harder at explaining the impact of these developments and the work of public historians in the process. This project will gather data on community history projects in Sydney and Bristol to showcase the value of history both inside and outside the academy.

Evans (working with McLellan, Robert Bickers, Bristol-based public history colleagues and the Brigstow Institute) aims:

This project will stake historians’ claim to the power of arts and humanities-based knowledge and social participation for ‘ordinary people’ and scholars in our neoliberal age.

Dr Evans is hosted by Professor Josie McLellan, History.

Planned events include:

Public Lecture in collaboration with the Brigstow Institute
Community and Collaborative History in Sydney and Bristol.

Departmental Lecture - tbc

An ‘ideas lunch’ in liaison with the Brigstow Institute to discuss Evans’ work in progress, to include university staff, graduation students and community organisations. Dr Evans runs numerous workshops each year with community, local and family history organisations such as these:


A History Showcase talk to the department’s undergraduate students.