About the Library

Archival Collections

The Library is responsible for several Archival Collections, which provide a rich source of information on Australia’s political, social and public health history. The Collections focus on prominent South Australians, including Bob Hawke, the first Prime Minister of Australia born in South Australia.

They aim to support research and education for UniSA's students and staff and the wider community. Contents of the collections can be viewed in UniSA Archival Collections.

  • Access to original items must be arranged by appointment with the EASS Library Services Team in accordance with conditions of use.

    Detailed information on the development of the Special Collections can be found in the Archival Collection Development Policy and its Annex.

    For further information, please contact the EASS Library Services Team.

  • The Bob Hawke Collection was transferred to UniSA Library from the National Archives of Australia in 1997. It is a unique collection of scholarly and research materials and memorabilia relating to Mr Hawke's life and career, including ACTU papers and other pre- and post-Prime Ministerial items. It includes personal papers, speeches, photographs, realia including campaign material, and books and audio-visual materials. The material complements the collection of Commonwealth records which were created in Bob Hawke's official capacity as Prime Minister. These are held by the National Archives of Australia in Canberra.

    The collection is located in the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library at City West campus. Details of items in this collection are available in the UniSA Archival Collections. Please contact the EASS Library Services Team for access to the collection or further information.

    About Bob Hawke

    The Hon RJL (Bob) Hawke AC was Prime Minister of Australia from 1983 to 1991. With eight years in office, he was Australia’s longest-serving Labor Prime Minister and the third longest-serving Prime Minister of any party. He became Prime Minister after only two years in Parliament, and only one month as Leader of the Opposition.

    Life before Politics

    Bob Hawke was born on 9 December 1929 at Bordertown, South Australia. His father Clem was a Congregationalist minister and his mother Ellie was a teacher. Ellie had a strong belief in her son’s destiny as a political leader and this contributed to his self-confidence throughout his career. His political role model was his uncle Albert Hawke, Labor Premier of Western Australia between 1953 and 1959.

    He was educated at Perth Modern School and the University of Western Australia, where he graduated with the degrees of Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (Economics). He was Western Australia's Rhodes Scholar of 1953 and studied at Oxford University from 1953 to 1955, graduating with the degree of Bachelor of Letters. His thesis was on wage-fixing in Australia.

    In 1956 he returned to Australia to take up a research scholarship in arbitration law at the Australian National University, and in 1958 became Research Officer and Advocate with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). He quickly demonstrated his competence in research and advocacy leading him to take on the presentation of the ACTU’s annual case for higher wages to the national wages tribunal, the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Over the next ten years he attained enough prominence and success in his advocacy role to be encouraged to run for ACTU president, despite having never previously held elected office in a trade union. He was ACTU President from 1970 to 1980. His considerable skills of negotiation and his pragmatic approach to governance meant he was generally liked and respected by the unions, employers and the wider Australian public.

    Life in Politics

    Bob Hawke joined the Australian Labor Party (ALP) in 1947 while at university. He was elected President of the ALP for the period 1973-1978. In 1980 he was elected to the House of Representatives in Federal Parliament for the electorate of Wills in Melbourne. He was immediately appointed as the Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, Employment and Youth. In February 1983 he became the Leader of the Labor Party, on the same day that an election was called for March 1983. He led the Labor Party to victory in the general election in March 1983 and, in winning three successive elections, became Australia’s longest-serving Labor Prime Minister.

    Hawke remained a popular and effective Prime Minister throughout his term, thanks to a consensus style of government and a range of effective and necessary reforms in economic policy, healthcare, human rights, environmental policy and international affairs. The Hawke government was unequivocally committed to the principle and practice of equality of opportunity and to the security of Australia through constructive international engagement. Hawke, more than any other Prime Minister before or since, changed the Australian economy, transformed the operation of government and transfigured political culture, particularly in the ALP. He ceased to be Prime Minister in December 1991 and resigned from Parliament in February 1992.

    Life after Politics

    Since resigning from politics Hawke has been a successful businessperson in property, a consultant for international negotiations and business and a journalist for Channel Nine and various newspapers. In August 1994 he published The Hawke Memoirs. He maintains a high public profile through academia, various labour campaigns and his work as a public speaker. Hawke has championed many public causes (including Australia’s movement towards a republic) and more recently the Hawke Centre and its research institutes. Most recently, Hawke helped establish the International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding in 2009 with the idea of promoting interfaith dialogue and uniting disparate people to create common understanding.

    For more biographical information about Bob Hawke visit the National Archives of Australia 'Australia's Prime Ministers' site.

  • The Alexander Downer Collection was gifted to the University of South Australia by the Hon. Alexander Downer, with the aim of providing a consolidated record of the contribution made by Mr. Downer, his father Sir Alick Downer, and his grandfather Sir John Downer to South Australian and Australian politics and to world affairs.

    The Collection comprises items dating from 1887 through to 2014, including photographs, newspaper clippings, reports, diaries, correspondence, artwork, and realia collected from international travel and diplomatic engagements. A large number of records which were originally compiled by Alexander and Sir Alick have also been transferred to the University from the National Archives of Australia.

    The Collection is housed in the Jeffrey Smart Building on the City West campus of the University of South Australia and was officially launched on 18th December 2014 by the Hon. John Howard OM AC.

    Information on the contents of the Collection can be found here and in the UniSA Archival Collections, and digital copies of selected items can be viewed. For further information or access to the Collection, please email the EASS Library Services Team.

    Alexander John Gosse Downer AC

    Alexander Downer was constantly exposed to the machinations of politics at a young age, both at home with important visitors including Robert Menzies, and when his family would travel to Canberra in school holidays to visit Parliament House and attend Question Time. Menzies encouraged a young Alexander to attain a profession and gain some life experience before entering politics, advice which Alexander abided by. When the family later moved to London he was exposed to the upper echelons of the British monarchy and ruling political class.

    He attended Crafers Primary School and Geelong Grammar School in Australia, then Radley College in England and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He entered the work force as an economist for the Bank of New South Wales before joining the Australian Diplomatic Service. Some of this time was spent at a posting in Brussels. He then worked as an advisor to Malcolm Fraser and Andrew Peacock before serving as the Executive Director of the Australian Chamber of Commerce. In 1984 he was elected to the House of Representatives as Liberal Member for Mayo, a newly-created seat based in the Adelaide Hills. He held this seat until his resignation in 2008.

    Alexander had a long and successful career in Parliament, rising through the ranks of Opposition until he served as Leader of the Liberal Party from May 1994 to January 1995 and is Australia’s longest serving Foreign Minister - 1996 to 2007.

    As Foreign Minister, Alexander travelled the globe representing Australia’s interests in bilateral negotiations and multinational forums. He handled a series of crises, including interventions in East Timor and the Solomon Islands, responses to terrorist attacks in the United States and Indonesia, and Australia’s participation in coalitions fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Alexander also demonstrated a deep and abiding commitment to the ongoing evolution of aid policy for the benefit of developing nations.

    Post-politics Alexander has taken up a number of engagements. He worked as one of three principals at boutique consultancy firm Bespoke Approach, and was appointed a Visiting Professor of Politics and International Trade at the University of Adelaide. Alexander served as the Chairman of Common Ground, an Adelaide not-for-profit that provides housing to the homeless.

    Alexander’s long experience in international relations was put to use as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Cyprus from 2008 until 2014. He currently holds the position of Australia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, following in his father’s footsteps.

    In 2013 he was appointed a Companion (AC) in the General Division of the Order of Australia, recognizing his eminent service to Parliament through the advancement of international relations and foreign policy, particularly in the areas of security, trade and humanitarian aid. In the same year he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate at the University of South Australia.

    Sir Alexander Russell Downer

    Alexander Downer Senior, known throughout his life as Alick, was born in Adelaide in 1910. The death of his father when Alick was only 5 left him with an ambition to live up to Sir John’s career of public service.

    Alick studied at Geelong Grammar School, and from 1928 at Oxford University. He completed degrees in economics, politics, and law, and returned to South Australia in 1934 to practice law, residing in his newly constructed estate Arbury Park at Bridgewater in the Adelaide Hills.

    After the outbreak of war, Alick enlisted in the army and was stationed in Malaya in late 1941. After the fall of Singapore, he was sent to the Japanese prisoner-of-war camp at Changi and remained until the war’s end in 1945.

    In 1949 Alick was elected to the House of Representatives for the Liberal Party from the seat of Angas, in the South Australian Riverlands. As a backbencher he showed interest in constitutional law and foreign affairs, and attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

    In 1958 Prime Minister Robert Menzies appointed Alick to his Cabinet as Minister for Immigration. In this role, Alick was a tireless promoter of emigration to Australia among European nations and oversaw gradual reform in immigration policy.

    Following the 1963 election, Alick was appointed to the position of High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. Between 1964 and 1972, he battled to keep Britain’s attention on Australia in a time when the UK was preparing to enter the European Economic Community. He built connections among the British establishment, and was appointed to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire as Knight Commander (KBE) in 1965.

    Sir Alick returned permanently to Australia in 1976, retiring to the Barossa Hills where he remained until his death in 1981. He is survived by his four children Angela, Stella, Alexander and Una.

    Lady Mary Downer

    Lady Mary Downer was the wife of Sir Alick. She was born Mary Gosse in 1924, the youngest daughter of Sir James Hay Gosse and Joanna Lang Barr Smith. Mary was raised in Adelaide with her four brothers and attended Seymour College. She enlisted in the army at 18 and served as a truck driver in Western Australia in a searchlight battalion during World War II.

    In 1946, Mary met Alick at a cocktail party at the South Australian Hotel, and they were married in April 1947. As her husband’s political career developed she became a tireless campaigner for the Liberal Party, serving alternately as president, secretary and treasurer of her local branch as well as assisting on polling days.

    Mary Downer accompanied her husband to London when he took up the role of Australian High Commissioner. Here she became involved in the Australian expatriate community, establishing the Chicken and Chablis Club, a luncheon club promoting fellowship between expatriate women. Mary became Lady Downer in 1965 when her husband was knighted.

    Post politics Mary was an active patron for a number of causes including the Mary Potter Foundation and the Barossa Valley Music Festival. She lived in the family property Martinsell in the Barossa Hills until her death on 14th October 2014.

    Sir John William Downer

    John Downer was born in 1843 in the newly-established colony of South Australia. His early brilliance won him a scholarship to study at St Peter’s College, and he was admitted to practise as a barrister at only 22. He built a reputation as one of Adelaide’s best advocates, before entering politics.

    John was elected as a member of the South Australia House of Assembly for the district of Barossa in 1878. As a talented member of Parliament, he was appointed Attorney-General in 1881. In this role he was a champion of legal reform, advocating for the rights of married women and accused persons.

    In 1885, John was elected Premier of South Australia, becoming responsible for negotiations with other colonies and with the Imperial Government. In 1887 he sailed to London to attend the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria and the Colonial Conference, at which he impressed with his skilled representation of colonial interests. He was appointed as Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (KCMG) during this visit.

    After returning to Adelaide Sir John continued to be a leading light of the Parliament, frequently leading the Opposition and serving briefly again as Premier in 1892-1893. He advocated for the federation of Australia, and was a leading delegate to both the 1891 and 1897-98 Conventions, helping to draft the proposed Australian Constitution.

    Following the success of Federation in 1901, Sir John was elected to the first Australian Senate, where he endeavoured to defend the new Constitution and the political and legal institutions it established. Retiring after just one term, he continued to practice law and was elected to the South Australia Legislative Council from 1905 until his death at home in 1915.

    Lady Una Downer

    Una Stella Russell, born 1871, was the second wife of Sir John Downer and the mother of Sir Alick Downer. Una met Sir John at the house of Sir Edmund Barton in Sydney during the 1897 Federation Convention. Their 1899 wedding was also held at Barton’s house and he served as Best Man. After John’s death, Una married again in 1919 to D’Arcy Addison, a senior Tasmanian public servant, and moved to Hobart. Una and Alick shared a very close relationship, which is represented in this collection through the almost daily letters they sent to each other while Alick was attending boarding school. Around 1936 Una and D’Arcy moved to South Australia to be closer to Alick, where they continued to live until their deaths within a few months of each other in 1955.

    The Alexander Downer Collection was gifted to the University of South Australia by the Hon. Alexander Downer, with the aim of providing a consolidated record of the contribution made by Mr. Downer, his father Sir Alick Downer, and his grandfather Sir John Downer to South Australian and Australian politics and to world affairs.

    The Collection comprises items dating from 1887 through to 2014, including photographs, newspaper clippings, reports, diaries, correspondence, artwork, and realia collected from international travel and diplomatic engagements. A large number of records which were originally compiled by Alexander and Sir Alick have also been transferred to the University from the National Archives of Australia

  • Dr Rosemary Crowley was the first South Australian female Labor Senator. She was elected in May 1983 and served until her retirement in June 2002. She was Minister for Family Services from 1993 to 1996 and was Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women in 1993.

    Dr Crowley worked as a community medical practitioner before entering politics, and during her distinguished political career always showed keen interest in community health, childcare, parent education, women's health and sport.

    The collection was established in 2002 and provides evidence of a career reflecting service and commitment to the community. It includes papers relating to political life, realia, books, photographs and audio-visual material.

    Information on the contents of the Collection can be found in the UniSA Archival Collections, and digital copies of selected items can be viewed. For further information or access to the Collection, please email the EASS Library Services Team.

  • The de Lissa Association of Early Childhood Graduates (previously known as the Kindergarten Club) was established in 1911 and actively supported Early Childhood Education in a number of ways, including advocacy for early childhood, a student prize for original research, the Betty Davis Research Grant, funding for early childhood education ventures and the lending of pianos to contribute to music programs in Kindergarten.

    This collection was donated to the Library by the de Lissa Graduates Association upon its disassociation in 2011. It includes items relating to educational pioneer Lillian de Lissa, the history of the Kindergarten Movement from its beginnings and the development of early childhood education in South Australia. Items relating to Gypsy Hill Training College also form part of the collection. Contents include papers, letters, photographs, slides, newspaper clippings, books, items produced by students studying early childhood education and items used in kindergartens.

    Items relating to the collection but not part of the original donation have been added to the collection, including items related to Betty Davis, a former student and later principal of the Kindergarten Training College.

    Information on the contents of the Collection can be found in the UniSA Archival Collections, and digital copies of selected items can be viewed. For further information or access to the Collection, please email the EASS Library Services Team.

    Some collection items are available for borrowing by UniSA staff for teaching and research purposes. Please contact the EASS Library Services Team for access to the collection or further information.

  • In the 1960s Dr Basil Hetzel led research that identified the link between iodine deficiency and brain damage in unborn children. The second half of his life has been consumed with his efforts as a public health campaigner working towards the global prevention of this problem. He was involved with the establishment of the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD, now the Iodine Global Network), a non-profit, non-government organisation for the sustainable elimination of iodine deficiency worldwide.

    Dr Hetzel has spent most of his life in Adelaide, and served as Chancellor of the University of South Australia from 1992 to 1998. He is a patron of the University’s Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre.

    The collection provides a consolidated record of the distinguished contribution by Dr Basil Hetzel to public health, both national and international, including his contribution to the elimination of iodine deficiency disorders through the work of the ICCIDD. The collection contains reports, correspondence, programs, conference proceedings, journal articles, meeting notes, photographs and other documents.

    The collection is located in the David Murray Library at City East campus.  Information on the contents of the Collection can be found in the UniSA Archival Collections, and digital copies of selected items can be viewed. For further information or access to the Collection, please email the EASS Library Services Team.

  • Chris Hurford studied at the London School of Economics and worked in accountancy before entering politics in 1969 as Member of the House of Representatives for Adelaide, a seat he held until his retirement in 1987.

    Mr Hurford served as a Labor Shadow Minister for seven years and a Minister of the Hawke Government for five years. After retiring from politics he served as Australia’s Consul General in New York for four years. In retirement, he continues his interest in political matters, particularly Australian constitutional reform.

    This collection was transferred to the Library from the National Archives of Australia in 2001. It includes Mr Hurford’s personal papers from student days until his retirement from Federal Parliament, photographs, realia and audio-visual material.

    Information on the contents of the Collection can be found in the UniSA Archival Collections, and digital copies of selected items can be viewed. For further information or access to the Collection, please email the EASS Library Services Team.

  • Sir Eric Neal trained as an engineer at the South Australian School of Mines, a predecessor institution of UniSA. After a successful career in engineering he rose to management as CEO of Boral, and served as a member of the boards of several companies including Westpac, John Fairfax and BHP. He was Chief Commissioner of Sydney in 1987-8, and in 1996 was the first businessman to be appointed to the office of Governor of South Australia, serving until 2001.

    This collection was established in 2001 and provides a consolidated record of the distinguished contribution by Sir Eric Neal to Australian business and society, and to the South Australian community. It includes reports, correspondence, programs, invitations, photographs, books and other documents. Books on gas and engineering date from the 1860s, and include both items collected by Sir Eric and others inherited from his father.

    The collection is located in the Sir Eric Neal Library at Mawson Lakes campus.  Information on the contents of the Collection can be found in the UniSA Archival Collections, and digital copies of selected items can be viewed. For further information or access to the Collection, please email the EASS Library Services Team.

  • Lowitja (Lois) O’Donoghue is a member of the Yankunjatjara people of north west South Australia. She is an advocate for Indigenous rights and a former public administrator.

    Ms O’Donoghue worked for the South Australian Government as an Aboriginal Liaison Officer and a Nurse Welfare Officer before moving into the Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal Affairs. She became the first Indigenous person to head a government office in Australia when she took on the role of Director of the Department’s South Australian office in 1975. She later served as the founding chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) from 1990 to 1996.

    She was the first Australian Indigenous woman to be inducted into the new Order of Australia in 1976, in recognition of her work in welfare. She was awarded Australian of the Year in 1984 for her work to improve the welfare of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. She was the first (and only) Indigenous Australian to address the United Nations General Assembly during the launch of the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Peoples (1992). She has received seven honorary doctorates and fellowships from various universities and educational institutes in Australia.

    This collection was established in 2013, and includes documents, books, photographs and realia including honorary doctorate gowns and Sydney 2000 Olympics memorabilia.

    Information on the contents of the Collection can be found in the UniSA Archival Collections, and digital copies of selected items can be viewed. For further information or access to the Collection, please email the EASS Library Services Team.

  • Dr Gregor Ramsey's distinguished career took him from science teaching at South Australian public schools to becoming one of Australia's foremost experts on education. As a policy maker and administrator he was not only instrumental in shaping Australia's current system of higher and vocational education but also travelled the globe to consult on educational systems.

    Dr Ramsey served as principal of four of the University of South Australia's predecessor institutions, and was instrumental in advocating and implementing the process of consolidation that resulted in the establishment of UniSA in 1991.

    This collection includes speeches, articles, papers and reports written by Dr Ramsey, personal correspondence and newspaper clippings.

    The collection is located in the Sir Eric Neal Library at Mawson Lakes campus.  Information on the contents of the Collection can be found in the UniSA Archival Collections, and digital copies of selected items can be viewed. For further information or access to the Collection, please email the EASS Library Services Team.

  • This collection was established by the UniSA School of Social Work and Social Policy. It includes material gathered from researchers at the three South Australian universities and many social work agencies, including histories of several longstanding agencies.

    The collection includes personal work items, anecdotes, diaries, lecture notes, publications, agency reports, photos and published items from a range of sources.

    The collection is located in the Sir Eric Neal Library at Mawson Lakes campus.  Information on the contents of the Collection can be found in the UniSA Archival Collections, and digital copies of selected items can be viewed. For further information or access to the Collection, please email the EASS Library Services Team.

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