Diary of a Labour Man 1917 - 1945

1934  /1936



The Annual Reports of the Trustees of the Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of Western Australia 1 provide some information about John Curtin's term as a Trustee.

Annual Report of the Trustees for the year ending 30 June 1934

John Curtin was appointed a Trustee in July 1933 to fill a vacancy. He attended 6 meetings of the 11 held by the Trustees in 1933-34.

In their report the Trustees felt 'compelled to emphasise the statement in last year's report concerning the difficulties maintaining the efficiency of the Library owing to the continued reduction in the Grant.'

Annual Report for the year ending 30 June 1935

Of the 12 meetings held by the Trustees in 1934-35, Curtin attended 6. His absence from the State during part of the year was noted. He was re-appointed as a Trustee for a period of 6 years.

This report comments that 'The reduced Grant continues to interfere with the efficiency and usefulness of the Institution.'

Annual Report for the year ending 30 June 1936

Of the 11 meetings held by the Trustees for 1935-36, Curtin attended 2. The Report notes:

'John Curtin resigned in May 1936 owing to the pressure of his parliamentary duties. The resignations [Sir Charles Nathan and Mr W H Vincent also resigned from the Trust in August 1935] were received with great regret and the Trustees desire to place on record their appreciation of the valuable services that were rendered to the Institution during the respective periods of their membership with the Trust.'

This report also recorded that the Grant was now back to its pre-Depression amount of £7 500.

Annual Report for the year ending 30 June 1937

John Curtin's place on the Trust was filled by Dr Cyril Bryan in August 1936.

Further information is found in correspondence concerning Curtin's resignation as a Trustee. 2

Typewritten letter from Curtin to Dr Battye

14 Jarrad Street
8 February 1934

Dear Dr Battye

I am afraid the Trustees will be disposed to regard me as a very useless addition to their number. But for the present I cannot attend meetings.
Absence from the State explained my inability to attend the December meeting, and, unfortunately during the holiday period I sustained a fractured ankle. It is mending now but I will not be able to attend the meeting called for next Monday.
[Follows a discussion and an opinion on the salary range for Mr Glauert, the Curator who was temporarily doing the job of General Secretary.]

John Curtin

Typewritten letter on letterhead of Leader of the Opposition, Canberra, to Dr Battye

24 April 1936

Dear Dr Battye

This morning I received an agenda paper for the ordinary meeting of Trustees, due April 20th, and you will see that in any case it is out of the question that I should be present.

The communication however, has brought definitely to my mind the embodiment I entertain at the impossibility of attending …… I feel that I am not just to my colleagues by this unavoidable constant truancy, and therefore I feel that I could do as much for the welfare of the Institution without being a Member of the Trust at present enables me to do.

Furthermore, I am oppressed by the thought that some very useful citizen, who would gladly share the executive work, is precluded by my membership from identifying himself actively with you.

I therefore feel that the time has arrived when I should retire and make way for some other gentleman or lady who could give better attention to the meetings as well as to the other activities which are part of the duties of Trustees.

Would you therefore accept this communication as a formal resignation as a Trustee?

I can only add that I have regarded it as a very high honour to have been a Trustee of the Public Library and its related activities, to share with the distinguished gentlemen who form the Trust, the work of managing so important a public institution, has been not only a pleasure but also a satisfying experience in citizenship.

It is with regret that I find my other duties now make it necessary for me to sever an association which has been of infinite pleasure to myself.

Yours sincerely

John Curtin

Extracts from typewritten letter to John Curtin from the Principal Librarian and Secretary, concerning resignation, which was accepted at the Trustees' meeting held on 11 May 1936.

12 May 1936

[The Trust was] 'compelled to accept your resignation with very great regret. … The Trustees desire me to forward to you their very sincere thanks for the great help which you gave as a member of the Trust.
….my great thanks for the help that you have given me personally.'


1. Battye Library of West Australian History Private Archives, Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of Western Australia, Report of the Trustees. Publisher: Perth WA : Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of Western Australia. Q 027.4 PUB

2. Battye Library of West Australian History Private Archives, Letters concerning John Curtin's resignation as a Trustee of the Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of WA. ACC 865A