Alistair Thomson


Accepting PhD Students

1989 …2022
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Personal profile


My research and teaching explores the ways in which life story evidence illuminates the past and its meanings in the present lives of individuals and society. I am passionate about both teaching and research, and in 2017 was awarded our Vice Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence. My books have explored the histories and memories of war veterans, migrants, adult learners and post-WW2 families, in Britain and Australia. As an internationally renowned oral historian, I write about the theory and method of oral history and life history research, including research involving recorded and written memory, diaries and letters, and family photographs. I am currently President of Oral History Australia.

I lead the Monash Historical Studies Graduate Research Program, and I supervise graduate research students working on a wide range of 20th century history projects.

Between 2011 to 2015, I led the Australian Generations oral history project, an ARC Linkage collaboration between Monash and La Trobe university historians, ABC Radio National and the National Library of Australia. We recorded 300 life histories that are available online through the NLA. From the interviews we have produced 10 radio programs, many journal articles, a theme issue of Australian Historical Studies, a web exhibition (From Glory Boxes to Grindr: Dating in Australia 1945-2015) and my book Australian Lives: an Intimate History (with Anisa Puri, 2017). Users of the Australian Lives ebook can listen to the interviews as they read, and then continue listening via the NLA online oral history archive. Details at:

I'm now now working on two research projects:

* an oral history of Holden car workers, as part of an ARC-funded Linkage partnership project with historians at Monash and Adelaide universities, the NLA, the National Car Museum and GM Holden.

* an twentieth century history of Australian fatherhood.


External positions

President, Oral History Australia

2017 → …

Fellow, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA)

2014 → …

President, Oral History Victoria


Research Committee, Museums Victoria

2012 → …

Distinguished Visiting Professor, Aarhus University, Denmark


Honorary Research Fellow, Museums Victoria

2012 → …

President, International Oral History Association


Trustee, Mass-Observation (UK)


Founding Editor Words and Silences, Journal of the International Oral History Association


Editor, Oral History journal (UK


Professor of Oral History, University of Sussex

… → 2007


  • oral history, digital history, history and memory, migration history, social history

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2008 2022

Research Output 1989 2019

'when's dad home?': an oral history of inter-war Australian fatherhood

Thomson, A. S., 2019, In : Oral History. p. 35-48 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Australian Lives: An Intimate History

Thomson, A. S., 2017, Melbourne Vic Australia: Monash University Publishing. 425 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBookResearchpeer-review

Moving stories: Using life stories to animate migration history

Thomson, A. S., 2017, Museums in a time of migration: Rethinking museums' roles, representations, collections, and collaborations. Johansson, C. & Bevelaner, P. (eds.). Lund Sweden: Nordic Academic Press, p. 113-128 16 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

Australian Generations? Memory, oral history and generational identity in postwar Australia

Thomson, A., 2016, In : Australian Historical Studies. 47, 1, p. 41-57 17 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Digital aural history: An Australian case study

Thomson, A., 2016, In : Oral History Review. 43, 2, p. 292-314 23 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Arts Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence, Monash University

Alistair Thomson (Recipient), 2016

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

History Article (peer reviewed) Award, Victorian Community History Awards

Alistair Thomson (Recipient), 2015

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

United States Oral History Association International Book Award

Alistair Thomson (Recipient), 2012

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Vice Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence, Monash University

Alistair Thomson (Recipient), 2017

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)