Judy Birmingham AM, Queens Birthday 2017 Australian Honours

‘Historical Archaeology at the crossroads…’, Left to Right:Andrew Wilson, Stephen Baty and Judy Birmingham, photo taken July 1994.

Associate Professor Judy Birmingham (retired) has been awarded an AM, a member in the General Division, for ‘significant service to higher education, particularly to historical archaeology, as an academic, and to professional associations.’

Judy Birmingham was a major contributor to the inception, development, and teaching of Historical Archaeology in Australia. She was the major instigator of the first teaching course for Historical Archaeology in Australia at the University of Sydney in 1973/74. From these beginnings, Historical Archaeology (incl. Industrial Archaeology) is now taught at a number of universities in Australia:

  • University of Sydney
  • La Trobe University
  • University of New England
  • University of Western Australia
  • Australian National University
  • University of Canberra
  • Flinders University
  • University of Queensland
  • James Cook University

Historical and Industrial Archaeology are also aspects of the practice of heritage in all states of Australia with many consultants working within these disciplinary areas. Historical Archaeology is the study of the physical remains, both above and below ground, including archaeological remains and history of Australia’s colonial and contemporary past.

Judy was also involved in the development of Australia ICOMOS and in drafting the ICOMOS Burra Charter, which continues to provide the key guiding principles for heritage in Australia. She was active in the development of the conservation and study of Industrial Archaeology as part of the Industrial Archaeology Committee, National Trust (NSW). Through these avenues she was also involved in the development of national heritage legislation leading to the establishment of the former Australian Heritage Commission, now the Australian Heritage Council. In addition, as much of Judy’s activities and those of her students were in NSW, she played an important role in gaining protection for archaeological and industrial sites under the NSW Heritage Act, 1977. These contributions were frequently made during her decades of association with the National Trust of Australia (NSW), 1969-1989.

Following her arrival from the United Kingdom in 1961, Judy was employed as a lecturer, senior lecturer and finally as associate professor at the University of Sydney until her retirement in 1996, a period of 35 years. Aside from being a key figure in establishing the discipline of Historical Archaeology in Australia and its role within Australian modern heritage practice, Judy was a central figure in establishing the Australasian (formerly Australian) Society for Historical Archaeology (ASHA) in 1970. This is the key society for historical archaeologists and represents and supports the research interests of members and dissemination of archaeological projects to the public.

In 2006, ‘Papers in Honour of Judy Birmingham’ was published by ASHA, as part of the regular journal publication series. Some of the articles specifically set out Judy’s background and involvement in the development of historical archaeology while others were written by her students and peers in her honour. Of particular note are:

Also, a number of the authors in the 2006 volume made separate acknowledgements about Judy’s contributions to their research and the discipline generally:

The 2006 volume of Australasian Historian Archaeology includes a bibliography of Judy’s publications and list of positions held at the university and on various heritage bodies. Some of these publications are still in use today, while others were highly influential when published. In her retirement, Judy is still working on research and publication of Historical Archaeology and continues as a member of ASHA, of which she is an Honorary Life Member.