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Commonwealth Government Records about the Northern Territory


Jessie Sinclair Litchfield (1883–1956)

Jessie Litchfield (nee Phillips) was born in Sydney on 18 February 1883. She married Valentine Litchfield, an engineer, and moved to the Northern Territory in 1908, working in mining camps and later residing in Darwin. She lived her entire adult life in the Territory except for the years of World War II when most civilians were compulsorily evacuated from Darwin. Litchfield spent the years 1942–45 in Sydney.

Litchfield was a writer, poet and journalist. She published five books, most of which drew on her experiences in the Territory and her knowledge of Aboriginal life. She worked as a journalist for many years, both in editorial positions on Darwin newspapers and as the Northern Territory press representative for major Australian or overseas newspapers.

She took an active interest in politics, standing, unsuccessfully, as an independent for the House of Representatives seat of the Northern Territory at the 1951 Federal election. She had earlier been unsuccessful in an attempt to win a seat on the Darwin Town Council in 1927.

In 1953 Jessie Litchfield was awarded the Coronation Medal for her services to the Northern Territory. She died during a visit to Melbourne on 12 March 1956, and her ashes were later scattered over Darwin.

Selected records relating to Jessie Litchfield
National Archives, Darwin
J S Litchfield – assistance for settlement, 1908–28 A1, 1927/7242
J S Litchfield – complaint regarding the Northern Territory's administration, 1927–38 A1, 1938/23077
Complete list of recipients of coronation medal, 1953 A463, 1957/3125
National Archives, Sydney
Darwin radio station 5DR and Mrs Litchfield, 1947–48 SP286/7, box 3
National Archives, Darwin
J S Litchfield – suggestions regarding the future of Darwin, 1950–55 F1, 1954/388

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Chapter 16
Territory Personalities