Our History


The genesis of the ESRC as an evolving research centre dates back to 1985. A common thread throughout its various incarnations is Associate Professor Gavan McCarthy, who has been a contributor, leader and driving force for the ESRC, as well as for its predecessors the Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre  and the Australian Science Archives Project.


1985 – 1999:

Australian Science Archives Project (ASAP)

ASAP staff members Gavan McCarthy, Elissa Tenkate, Denise Sutherland and Tim Sherratt, April 1997.
1999 – 2006:

Australian Science and Technology Centre (Austehc)

Dr Phillip Law and Gavan McCarthy sitting in front of two steel bins filled with Dr Law’s diaries and notebooks, 2006 [picture by Helen Morgan]
2007 – current:

eScholarship Research Centre (ESRC)

ESRC Launch, March 2007.
Front row: Ailie Smith, Eve Young, Rachel Tropea, Janet McCalman.
Back Row: Simon Porter, James Bradley, Anna Shadbolt, Gavan McCarthy, Linda O’Brien, Peter McPhee.


1985 – 1999: Australian Science Archives Project (ASAP)

In 1985, Professor Rod W. Home launched The Australian Science Archive Project  (ASAP) at the University of Melbourne. The project was established with the objective of developing new programs to foster the preservation, promotion and development of the heritage of Australian science, technology and medicine. In order to meet this objective, ASAP paved the way for online information resources with an early online encyclopedia named Bright Sparcs, a groundbreaking archives-based digital resource which has evolved to contain ever more detail. The contemporary outcome of this development is the Encyclopedia of Australian Science.

For fourteen years, ASAP fostered an important network of associations with academic, government and private organisations and individuals, many of whom the ESRC continues to have ongoing and productive relationships with today.

1999 – 2006: Australian Science and Technology Centre (Austehc)

In 1999, the work of ASAP became the foundation for the Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre (Austehc), which was established within the Faculty of Arts. Austehc retained an essential core of ASAP’s staff with their distinctive expertise and knowledge as archivists, scholars, historians and web developers. Austehc produced a range of authoritative information sources to support the history of science, technology and medicine in Australia and continued the Centre’s tradition of service to the heritage community.

Austehc continued working with the founding principles of ASAP, offering database and web publication tools to the public under open licences, and at no cost if used for non-commercial, heritage and public good purposes.

It was during the time of Austehc that the ASAP Bright Sparcs database and another Austehc project, the Australian Science at Work database were combined to  make up the expansive online Encyclopedia of Australian Science. This transformation was completed in 2003.

2007 – current: eScholarship Research Centre (ESRC)

The ESRC was officially established in 2007 as part of the University of Melbourne Library. In this capacity, the Centre has collaborated on many significant public knowledge projects with researchers from within the University as well as with a broad range of external clients and partners from other Universities, Government departments, and community organisations.

The eScholarship Research Centre was conceived as a bold experiment in interdisciplinary collaboration, as a way of achieving the University’s vision of a linked-up triple helix, to build new relationships across the University and facilitate the emergence of research infrastructure based on principles of the scholarly ideal.