The History Council of NSW has awarded its Max Kelly Medal for 2008 to Dr Grant Mansfield, an Honorary Research Associate at the University of New England, for an essay on price-fixing in Australia during the opening months of World War I.
Dr Mansfield (pictured here) graduated from UNE with a First Class Honours degree in 2001 and a PhD earlier this year. Last year’s winner of the Max Kelly Medal was the Sydney barrister Timothy Castle also a recent graduate of UNE.
Dr Mansfield’s winning essay, titled “The costs of war: patriotism and price fixing during the opening months of the Great War in Australia”, covers part of his PhD research. It explains how some Australian business people took advantage of the war by immediately increasing the prices of goods such as sugar, bread and meat.
“These were domestic goods, and their prices shouldn’t have been affected,” Dr Mansfield said. “There was no excuse for it and that’s what people were saying at the time. In this respect, Australians didn’t all enter the war with the purest of patriotic feelings.”
Dr Mansfield is the 12th recipient of the annual award, which includes a $500 prize as well as the medal. It is designed to encourage historians at the beginning of their careers. The Max Kelly Medal honours the first elected President of the History Council of NSW, Professor Maxwell Kelly (1935-1996).
Dr Mansfield said that, to be the second UNE graduate to win the award in successive years, and to be ranked with people such as last year’s winner, Timothy Castle, was “very pleasing “both for myself and for the University”. He was presented with the award at Government House in Sydney earlier this month.
After living in Armidale for the past 15 years, and working in recent years as a casual history tutor at UNE, he is about to move to Canberra in pursuit of a career as an historian.