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Commonwealth Government Records about Tasmania


Joe and Enid Lyons

The National Archives has extensive documentation about Joe and Enid Lyons, including some record series accumulated by them and much more recorded by government agencies supporting their various political and executive roles. Those created by Joe Lyons include official records, letters and diaries. Records about him include photographs, memorabilia, oral histories, films and other audiovisual materials. They relate to his role as Tasmanian Premier (1923–28), a federal minister (1929–37), and Prime Minister (1932–39). There are also portraits and photographs (1927–73), and material concerning his death and memorials (1939–71). There is also considerable information in records of, or about, Enid Lyons. It covers her role as a prime minister's wife, communication with her husband, condolences following his death, travel, broadcasts, memberships as a backbencher and Vice President of the Executive Council.

Both Joe and Enid Lyons accumulated personal records and were registered by the National Archives as 'Commonwealth persons'. Details of some of the resultant material follow. A comprehensive conspectus of what the National Archives has by and about the Lyons is provided in Susan Marsden's Joseph Lyons: guide to archives of Australia's prime ministers (2002).

Joe Lyons (CP 254)

Joseph Aloysius Lyons (1879–1939) was a school teacher, Tasmanian Premier in the 1920s and Australian Prime Minister in the 1930s. Behind these brief facts was a truly remarkable life. Politically, Lyons was unique as Australia's only Tasmanian Prime Minister; the first to win three consecutive elections; the second only to resign from one party (the ALP) to form and lead another (the United Australia Party); the first prime minister to have at least one parent born in Australia; the first to die in office; and the only one to be married to a politically active spouse whose renown grew remarkably following his death. Long underrated by historians and biographers, he is the subject of a full-length study by Anne Henderson titled Joseph Lyons: the people's prime minister (2011).

Series of correspondence and other papers recorded by JOE Lyons (including particular concentrations of items on Tasmania)
National Archives, Canberra
Correspondence between the Prime Minister (Joseph Aloysius Lyons) and Resident Minister in London (Stanley Melbourne Bruce) on the conversion of London Loans, 1932–33 A11874
Correspondence of Joseph Aloysius Lyons as Leader of the Opposition and as Prime Minister, 1919–39 CP103/19
Letter from His Majesty King George VI concerning the presentation of an oil painting of the 1937 Coronation, 1938 CP144/1
General correspondence of Joseph Aloysius Lyons as Prime Minister, 1938–39 CP167/1
Subject files of Joseph Aloysius Lyons as Prime Minister, 1931–39
Comprises 25 items on such matters as the Devonport Fire Brigade (item 13), 7BU Burnie Broadcasting Service (item 6), Coles Bay (Tasmania), Red Granite Company, and Deloraine Tourist and Improvement Association (item 25), and visit of federal Cabinet to Tasmania, February 1939 (item 8).
CP167/2
Representations relating to employment, 1931–39 CP167/3
Cables between the Prime Minister (Joseph Aloysius Lyons), Dr Earle Page and others, 1935–38 CP290/5
Correspondence of Joseph Aloysius Lyons as Postmaster-General, 1931–56 CP30/1
Correspondence of Joseph Aloysius Lyons as Leader of the United Australia Party and the federal Opposition, 1922–56
Comprises 10 items covering, for example, the Penny Post (Hobart newspaper) and Tasmanian savings banks (item 4); and the 1931 Premiers' Conference (item 9).
CP30/2
Correspondence of Joseph Aloysius Lyons as Prime Minister, 1920–56 CP30/3
Photocopies of correspondence of Joseph Aloysius Lyons as Acting Treasurer, Leader of the United Australia Party and as Prime Minister, 1923–39 M2270

Enid Lyons (CP 928)

Image 16: Enid Lyons, 1934

Image 16: Enid Lyons, 1934
NAA: A1861, 6590
Enlarge image - View image gallery

The marriage of Enid Burnell (1897–1981) to Joe Lyons in 1915 began a remarkable partnership which produced 12 children, and a formidable and high-profile political team in an era when modern communications were in their infancy. Her own political involvements, begun in the 1920s as the first premier's wife to engage directly in a public political career, flourished in widowhood. In 1943, she became the first woman elected to the House of Representatives, and the first female member of Cabinet when appointed by the new Menzies government as Vice President of the Executive Council in 1949. Her involvements following resignation from Parliament in 1951 were equally notable, officially acknowledged when an earlier honour (DBE, 1937) was added to with the title Dame of the Order of Australia a year before her death in 1981.

Series of correspondence and other papers recorded by Enid Lyons (including particular concentrations of items on Tasmania)
National Archives, Canberra
Correspondence of Joseph Aloysius Lyons as Leader of the Opposition and as Prime Minister, 1919–39
Comprises 114 items of Joseph and Enid Lyons' correspondence, for example, the Grocers' Association of Tasmania and H Jones & Company (Hobart) (item 80, 1931), effect of the Textile Award on Tasmanian mills (item 88, 1932–34), Farmers' Union (Scottsdale Branch, Tasmania) and Rossarden telephone facilities (Tasmania) (item 89, 1933–34), Tamar Valley Cooperative Company, Tasmanian National Federation, Bass Strait shipping service and Tasmanian tourist traffic (item 99, 1933–34), Theatre Royal Talkies (Hobart) (item 83, 1931–32), Bass Strait ferry service and Burnie Athletic Carnival (item 12, 1933–34).
CP103/19
Correspondence of Joseph Aloysius Lyons as Prime Minister, 1920–56
Comprises 96 items of Joe and Enid Lyons' correspondence relating to Dalebrook Sports Club (Deloraine), Derwent Bridge (Tasmania) postal facilities (item 18, 1930–34), appointment of D Feirclough as Program Manager at 7ZL (Hobart) broadcasting station (item 25, 1934), Hobart Rotary Club 'Spend for Employment' campaign (item 35, 1932–33), Kelsall & Kemp (Tasmania) Ltd (item 43, 1933) and FWK Wise, regarding Wireless Listeners' League of Tasmania (item 84, 1931–32).
CP30/3

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Chapter 8
Tasmanian Commonwealth persons