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Research Guides


Commonwealth Government Records about Tasmania


Other collections

Before proceeding, in case some readers are not aware of Australia's political papers landscape, I should mention that the National Archives is not the only institution to hold the kinds of papers it has collected by and about Commonwealth persons. In particular, the National Library of Australia began seeking the correspondence, diaries, photographs and similar material of nationally significant individuals long before the National Archives was established and, paying due regard to the policies of other archives and the requirements of the Archives Act 1983, it still does.

The papers of former Governor of Tasmania Sir James Plimsoll (1928–87) provide a case in point. As the National Library's Plimsoll guide explains, Sir James bequeathed his papers to the Library, but following intervention by the Department of Foreign Affairs, the executors learnt that some of the papers were Commonwealth records while others were records of the Tasmanian Government. Consequently, the papers were transferred to the National Archives for detailed examination. As a result, nearly 150 boxes went to the National Library, four boxes to TAHO and the remainder retained by the National Archives.

Among the National Library's many thousands of accessions of personal papers are a number of prominent Tasmanians or people with a strong Tasmanian link. The names (followed by the manuscript control number) include JB Brigden (MS 8308), Sir Douglas Copland (MS 3800), LF Giblin (MS 366), Brian Harradine (MS Acc05/115), Joe Lyons (MS 4851), Dame Enid Lyons (MS 4852), Jocelyn Newman (MS Acc04/176), Jocelyn and Kevin Newman (MS Acc04/204), King O'Malley (MS 460), Sir James Plimsoll (MS 8048) and Sir Roland Wilson (MS 1155). In most cases, there is a guide to these collections and it is accessible online.

Finally, the Australian War Memorial should not be overlooked – its archival collections have much more than unit records and personal details of those on the Roll of Honour. It has, for instance, several accessions of papers of Sir John Gellibrand (1872–1945), the great World War I Tasmanian general (3DRL/1473; 3DRL/5037; 3DRL/6541; 3DRL/6405; 3DRL/7446), and photographs and other items relating to Launceston-born Lieutenant Colonel Sir Harry Murray, VC.


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Chapter 8
Tasmanian Commonwealth persons