The Hugh Martin Weir Prize remembers a veteran

The Hugh Martin Weir Prize, established by Glen and Robina Weir in 2011, honours the memory of Lieutenant Hugh Martin Weir (1915–2004) and his fellow prisoners of war.

Hugh Martin Weir

Lieutenant Hugh Martin Weir

Between 1942 and 1945, Hugh was a prisoner of war at a Japanese camp in Java. The Prize encourages study and research, including the use of the Barr Smith Library collections, into any aspect of Australia’s involvement in war, or the treatment of prisoners of war, including the impact on those persons, their families, and communities.

Thanks to the Prize, students enrolled in an Honours thesis program or postgraduate study are receiving much-needed help with the costs that come with producing and publishing their important research. From travel and accommodation to books, printing, and inter-library loans, the Prize ensures students can ‘go the extra mile’ when it comes to analysing wartime history and related topics.

2020 prize winner Emma Carson said, "I am incredibly grateful to the Weir family and the Barr Smith Library for awarding me the Hugh Martin Weir Prize, as it helped fund vital research expenses for my PhD. I originally planned to use the funds to conduct a research trip interstate, to access records at the Australian War Memorial and National Archives of Australia in Canberra. As COVID restrictions prevented me from travelling, I used the funds to cover digitisation fees so I could still access these documents. My research analyses collections of letters written between Australian servicemembers and their spouses during World War II, and provides insight on how separation and military service impacted their relationships, ability to maintain intimacy, and emotional expression.

Winner of the 2022 prize Ali Reid described herself as “honoured to be the recipient.” Ali is conducting an anthropological study of South Australians who work or volunteer their time to support refugees and asylum seekers.

Emma Carson, Robina Weir, Glen Weir, Ali Reid, Jade Ryles and University Librarian Sian Woolcock pictured at the May 2022 Prize award ceremony.

Emma Carson, Robina Weir, Glen Weir, Ali Reid, Jade Ryles and University Librarian Sian Woolcock pictured at the May 2022 Prize award ceremony.

Ali notes, “we know much about refugee and asylum seeker experiences which are often a tragic by-product of war, but little about the people who support them. Through my research I hope to highlight the experiences and challenges that South Australian supporters face as they work to make a difference for those seeking refuge.”

The Prize will help Ali to produce a research brief, which will be distributed to NGOs, institutions, politicians and policy makers. The prize will be critical in disseminating the key findings of Ali’s research.

I expect my research to have resonance for other social issues that rely heavily on volunteers, NGO workers and pro bono work , so it is critical the key findings reach those who hear and see them.Ali Reid, 2022 winner of the Hugh Martin Weir Prize

With early postdoctoral researchers also eligible to receive the Prize, Glen and Robina are also ensuring early-career researchers have support to further their research in the field.

University Librarian Si
ân Woolcock says, “the impact of the Hugh Martin Weir Prize is twofold; the Prize furthers the success of student researchers, and highlights the key role Library collections play in research outcomes. We are immensely appreciative of the Weir’s philanthropic support in connecting Library collections with such important conversations about war and its impact on our country.”

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