Staff Directory

Assoc. Prof. Nell Musgrove Name: Assoc. Prof. Nell Musgrove
Associate Professor
+613 9953 3208
Organisational Area
Faculty of Education and Arts
History & Archaeology (VIC)
Arts Precinct(Bldg.412 - 34-36 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy VIC 3065)-Level 1-Room1.15
Biographical Information

Associate Professor Nell Musgrove is an Australian historian with a particular interest in the field of child welfare history and carceral institutions. 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.



Moruzi, Kristine, Nell Musgrove and Carla Pasco Leahy (eds.) Children's Voices from the Past: New Historical and Interdisciplinary Perspectives, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.

Musgrove, Nell, and Deidre Michell.The Slow Evolution of Foster Care in Australia - Just Like a Family? London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

Musgrove, Nell. The Scars Remain: A Long History of Forgotten Australians and Children's Institutions, Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2013.

Davis, Fiona, Nell Musgrove and Judith Smart (eds.) Founders, Firsts and Feminists: Women Leaders in 20th Century Australia, Melbourne: University of Melbourne ePress, 2011.

Musgrove, Nell. Trains Trials and Triumphs: 50 Years of the Parish of St. Martin of Tours Rosanna. Melbourne: St. Martin of Tours Rosanna, 2006.


Articles, Book Chapters and Refereed Conference Papers 

Musgrove, Nell, and Naomi Wolfe. &ldquoAboriginal Knowledge, the History Classroom and the Australian University.&rdquo History of Education Review ahead-of-print, no. ahead-of-print (2021). DOI: 10.1108/HER-04-2021-0010.

Musgrove, Nell, Carla Pascoe Leahy and Kristine Moruzi. "Hearing Children's Voices: Conceptual and Methodological Challenges." In Children's Voices from the Past: New Historical and Interdisciplinary Perspectives, edited by Kristine Moruzi, Nell Musgrove and Carla Pascoe Leahy, 1-25, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.

Musgrove, Nell. "Historical abuse in Australian child welfare: why did it happen and why does it matter?" History of Education 45, no. 4 (2016): 460-476.

Musgrove, Nell. "The Role and Importance of History." In Apologies and the Legacy of Institutional Child Abuse: International Perspectives, edited by Johanna Sköld and Shurlee Swain, 147-158. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Musgrove, Nell. "Locating Foster Care: Place And Space In Care Leavers' Childhood Memories". Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, 8 no. 1, 2015 106-122.

Musgrove, Nell. "Imagining Foster Families." Journal of Australian Studies 38, no. 2, 2014, pp.175-189.

Shurlee Swain and Nell Musgrove. "Contained and Confined: Female Incarceration in Nineteenth-Century Australia" In Silent System: Forgotten Australians and the Institutionalisation of Women and Children, edited by Paul Ashton and Jacqueline Z. Wilson, 3-15. North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2014.

Swain, Shurlee and Nell Musgrove, "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'", Archives and Manuscripts, Vol. 40, no. 1, March 2012, pp. 4-14.

Musgrove, Nell, and Naomi Wolfe. Takin' Care of Business: Collaboration, equity and respect for Indigenous culture in tertiary education. Paper presented at the A scholarly affair: Cultural Studies Association of Australasia 2010 national conference, Byron Bay, NSW, pp. 107-116.

Davis, Fiona, Nell Musgrove and Judith Smart. "Introduction." In Davis, Julie, Nell Musgrove and Judith Smart (eds.) Founders, Firsts and Feminists: Women Leaders in 20th Century Australia, Melbourne: University of Melbourne ePress, 2011.

Musgrove, Nell. "Teresa Wardell: Gender, Catholicism and Social Welfare in Melbourne." In Founders, Firsts and Feminists: Women Leaders in 20th Century Australia, edited by Fiona Davis, Nell Musgrove and Judith Smart, 130-48. Melbourne: University of Melbourne ePress, 2011.

Musgrove, Nell and Shurlee Swain.  "The 'best interests of the child': Historical perspectives."  Children Australia Vol.35, no. 2 (2010): 35-7.

Musgrove, Nell. "'Every time I think of baby I': dislocation and survival in Victoria&rsquos child welfare system." Australian Historical Studies Vol. 39, Issue 2 (2008): 213-28.

Grimshaw, Patricia, Nell Musgrove and Shurlee Swain. "The Australian Labour Movement and Working Mothers in the United Nations' Decade for Women, 1975-1985." Labour History, special edition, 2007, 137-52.

Musgrove, Nell. "Defining and Defying the Image of Camp Pell." Parity Vol. 19, Issue 2 (2006): 9-10.

Musgrove, Nell. "'Filthy' Homes and 'Fast' Women: Welfare Agencies' Moral Surveillance in Post-Second World War Melbourne." Journal of Australian Studies, no. 80 (2004): 111-22.

Musgrove, Nell. "Private Homes, Public Scrutiny: Surveillance of 'the Family' in Post-War Melbourne, 1945-1965." History Australia 1, no. 1 (2003): 8-14.

Musgrove, Nell. "Secrecy and Social Work." Antithesis 1, (2003): 1-17.



Associate Professor 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.

Current Research

Care Leaver Activism and Advocacy: From Deficit Models to Survivor Narratives

Australian Research Council Discovery Project (DP210101275)

Since the late 20th century, Care Leavers (people institutionalised as children, of whom there were more than 500,000 in Australia during the 20th century alone) have used survivor-activism to successfully campaign for a series of government inquiries, and to make important challenges to past and present child welfare practices. Yet they continue to face adversity in accessing education, social welfare and health services. This project&rsquos history of Care Leaver activism and advocacy will be written by and with the people who have been the grassroots of this significant social movement. It seeks to explain how Care Leavers&rsquo social, physical and mental health needs have been shaped by their experiences in out-of-home care, which will in turn support the development of better models of health care and services that improve outcomes and reduce disparities for this disadvantaged and vulnerable group. This will benefit not only the Care Leavers of today, but also the more than 50,000 Australian children and young people currently in out-of-home care who will face similar challenges in the future.

Project website:


Research Supervision

Associate Professor Musgrove has experience supervising 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.

Current students

Patricia Courtenay, PhD candidate, 'Aboriginal Spirituality in a Christian Context'.

Marlya Kerry, PhD Candidate, 'Fancy and Plain: Sewing and needlework production and exhibition by Australian women, 1890-1939'.

Adrien McCrory, PhD Candidate, 'Transgender Australians and their Interactions with the Justice System in 20th-Century Australia'.

Rebecca Coventry, PhD Candidate, &lsquoReshuffling and Rebadging: The Art of Closing Juvenile Detention Centres&rsquo.


Completed Students

Vicki Flack, PhD, 'Climate Change and Inhabitability: Sustaining a Meaningful Identity Following Loss of Place', (2020).

Sharron Lane, PhD, 'The significance of individual contributions in the history of Kildonan UnitingCare', (2019).

Paul Chalkley, MPhil, 'Concepts of caring for young people in residential care in Victoria', (2019).

Emily Gough, BA (Hons), &lsquo&ldquoWhether Picnic at Hanging Rock is fact or fiction, my readers must decide for themselves&rdquo: The Development of a Much Beloved Fictional Tale to a National Historical Myth&rsquo, (2021).

Lily Do, BA (Hons), 'Prefacing the Sexual Revolution with a Bang: Reconsidering the Historiography of Female Sexuality, 1945-1960s Australia', (2016).

Amy Cumper, BA (Hons), 'ANZAC and Vimy Side by Side: A Study of National Mythologies in Australia and Canada', (2011).


Dr Musgrove's outstanding contributions to tertiary education in the discipline of History have been acknowledged through:

2014: Australain Office for Learning and Teaching Citation for Outstanding Contirubtions to Student Learning - "For collaboratively designing a program of assessment which promotes hand-on historical research and transforms students into independent historians" - ACU History Team (Dr Ellen Warne, Dr Nell Musgrove, Dr Noah Riseman).

2013: ACU Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning - "For designing a programme of Historical Studies that scaffolds students' skills as historians through diverse and innovative activities and assessments" -ACU History Team (Dr Ellen Warne, Dr Nell Musgrove, Dr Noah Riseman)

2012: Faculty of Arts and Sciences Excellent in Teaching Award (Dr Nell Musgrove).

Her teaching interests include historiography, Australian social history, Australian Indigenous history, women's history, colonial history, and the history of childhood.

She is also a Chief Investigator on an ACU Teaching Development Grant investigating collaborative strategies for incorporating Australain Indigenous perspectives across the university curriculum.


Professional Memberships


  • Society for the History of Children and Youth Asian-Australasian Regional Network

Victorian Representative:

  • Australian Women's History Network - part of the International Federation for Research in Women's History.



  • Australian Historical Association
  • Society for the History of Children and Youth

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