Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

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  • The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia

Grimshaw, Patricia (1938 - )


Auckland, New Zealand
Academic, Feminist and Historian
Alternative Names
  • Grimshaw, Pat


Pat Grimshaw has enjoyed a long and distinguished academic career. Having completed postgraduate studies in New Zealand, she joined the Department of History at the University of Melbourne in 1977. Pat is a Fellow of the Academy for Social Sciences in Australia, a Fellow of the Australian Academy for the Humanities, and Deputy Editor of the UK journal Women's History Review. She has been a member of the editorial committees of Australian Feminist Studies, Gender and History, Journal of Women's History and Pacific Historical Review, and has supervised over 50 PhDs to completion. In her various roles as supervisor, mentor, lecturer, professor, Head of Department, Deputy Dean, and member of multiple academic and professional associations, she has made an extraordinary contribution to women's history, to the history profession, and to the wider community.

Her extraordinary (and continuing) contribution was recognised in 2017 when she was awarded an Order of Australia for 'distinguished service to the social sciences and to the humanities through researching, documenting and preserving Australian history, and the roles of women in society'.


Pat Grimshaw completed her postgraduate studies at Auckland University. Her seminal study of women's suffrage in New Zealand was published by Auckland University Press in 1972.

In 1977, Pat was appointed as a lecturer in women's history at the University of Melbourne. Her new course, 'Changing Concepts of Women's Place', remained central to the women's studies program for the next twenty years. The establishment of the Women's Studies Centre in 1988 owed much to her influence. Pat became renowned for her dynamism and enthusiasm as a lecturer, inspiring the hundreds of students under her tutelage.

Pat's academic work spans a wide field. Early research into American missionary wives in Hawaii sparked her ongoing interest in settler feminism, the civilizing mission, and the rights of white and indigenous women on the Pacific Rim. Later research focused on working mothers, families and social change: the co-edited Double Shift was published in 2005. Pat has co-edited several collections in women's history including Australian Women: Feminist Perspectives (1981), The Half-Open Door (1982), and Women's Rights and Human Rights (2001). Freedom Bound (1995, with Marian Quartly and Susan Janson) brought to light a large number of documents on women in colonial and modern Australia. Creating a Nation (1994, republished 2006) re-told the story of Australia's settlement history with particular focus on the place of women and of Aboriginal Australians within that history. In 1994, Pat co-edited Colonialism, Gender and Representations of Race; in 2002, Letters from Aboriginal Women in Victoria; in 2003, Equal Subjects, Unequal Rights: Indigenous Peoples in British Settler Colonies, 1830-1910; in 2006, Collisions of Cultures and Identities; and in 2007, with Kate Darian-Smith and Stuart Macintyre, Britishness Abroad.

Pat served as Head of the Department of History at the University of Melbourne for a decade (1992-2002) with just one year in respite, and became the Max Crawford Professor of History. She was Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts from 1993 to 1996; reappointed in 2003. From 1995 to 2000 she was President of the International Federation for Research in Women's History. As a Director of the National Foundation for Australian Women, she was instrumental in obtaining an Australian Research Council linkage grant to support the Australian Women's Archives Project - one of approximately ten ARC grants awarded to her or to projects with which she has been involved.

Loved and revered by countless students and frequently called upon for her skills in research, oratory, supervision and leadership, Pat Grimshaw's official retirement in 2006 was a mere formality.

In March 2008 Pat Grimshaw was inducted onto the 2008 Victorian Honour Roll of Women, a Government initiative which recognises and celebrates the achievements of women from all walks of life. In the same week the University of Melbourne announced the Patricia Grimshaw Mentor Excellence Awards, to honour her contribution as a mentor of postgraduate students and younger colleagues on their research projects and career development.

Sources used to compile this entry: Penny Russell, Annual History Citation 2004, History Council of New South Wales; The University of Melbourne (

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