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Curtin University
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library
Curtin University Library

Online education resources - Exploring Australia's history and politics

The JCPML provides a host of online resources relevant to the study and teaching of Australia's history and politics.The resources include primary source materials such as photographs, documents and oral histories and feature engaging online activities suitable for a variety of age levels.

Online exhibitions with educational activities


A double-decker bus advertising Liberty bonds, Sydney, 1943

Investigating Australian History through primary sources
A great resource for classroom teachers, this site provides 55 stimulus documents grouped into ten broad themes relating to history and politics. This resource is designed to encourage student learning and support the teaching of history through primary sources. The resources include photographs, correspondence, speeches, advertisements, films, objects and oral history excerpts from the collections of theJCPML. Each resource is accompanied by detailed contextual information to make it easy for teachers to use with their students.


'Apron strings'cartoon by John Frith. The Bulletin 31 December 1941. Courtesy Frith Family

The Art of the possible: Creating an independent Australian foreign policy
This online exhibition explores Australia's growing independence in the realm of foreign policy from 1935 to 1950. Virtual reality tours and an 'Astonishing artefacts' code breaking activity are available online.


Detail from cartoon 'Exelsior' by Ted Scorfield

Aspirations of a working class man: Achievements under John Curtin’s leadership  
Believing that 'the peace must be won for the masses', Curtin used his wartime prime ministership to further his lifelong dream of a fair go for all Australians, implementing Labor programs in the areas of economic reform, social services and immigration, education, public broadcasting, and foreign policy, while maintaining confidence in the power of Parliament. Political cartoons illustrate vividly the achievements which are the focus of the resource. Online educational activities involve interpretation of some of these cartoons.


Our job to clothe the men who work and fight’ poster, 1943. Courtesy Australian War Memorial: Accession No. ARTV01064

John Curtin's legacy: Leading Australia from war to peace
This exhibition follows Australia's progress from 1942, the most critical year of the war, when Prime Minister Curtin 'looked to America' for help, until 1951 when the ANZUS Treaty was signed. It explores the Curtin Government's initiatives in areas including the economy, immigration and foreign policy and how these developed in the postwar years to form the foundations of modern Australia. Virtual reality tours, history investigations, a cloze activity, mathematics activity and data collection and analysis activity add value to the educational experience of this exhibition.


John Curtin: A good sport

John Curtin: A good sport
Australians are known for their obsession with sport and John Curtin shared this national passion, both as a participant and as a spectator. Images, letters, newspaper cuttings, video and audio clips combine to tell the story of the prime minister well regarded as 'fairest and best'. A quote sleuth, radio interview and quiz night activity are available online to add value to the web publication.


Wartime government publicity urging support for the war effort 'The Spearhead reaches South - It's total war.'

John Curtin: A man of peace, a time of war  
John Curtin was the poor country boy who rose to become prime minister, the revolutionary young socialist turned political pragmatist, the pacifist called upon to lead Australia during wartime. 'Walk through' the exciting panoramas to experience the exhibition in its original form as well as view the online exhibition which features key images and text. Try out the interactive quizzes and activities - there's a crossword, maths activity, mix and match of events and dates, self checking quizzes, cartoon interpretations and more! It's fun and educational! 


John Curtin: A Prime Minister and his people

John Curtin: A prime minister and his people
This selection of about 500 letters documents the relationship between Prime Minister John Curtin and the general public during the years 1941-1945 and is the result of a joint project between the National Archives of Australia and the JCPML. Two activities with quizzes, focus questions and follow up research deal with the issues of media censorship in wartime and the banning of the Communist Party in World War II.

PM Curtin with the press 'Circus'. JCPML00376/2

John Curtin: From revolutionary firebrand to journalist in spirit 
This online exhibition explores John Curtin's development as a journalist and his special relationship with the media as prime minister. Photographs, audio clips and selections from Curtin's own writings bring the story to life. There's an online quiz and Mix & Match activity for those who want to test their knowledge.

The express train from Perth to Kalgoorlie - 'The Westland'  (Australian Railway Historical Society)

On track: John Curtin's railway journeys
John Curtin had a lifelong link with train travel. Experience train travel as it was from 1917 when the trans Australia line first spanned the continent until the mid 1940s. Images, film clips and the memories of the people who travelled with John Curtin bring this story alive.


Exhibition booklet cover

Shaping the nation: John Curtin and Australia
In following the development of John Curtin's political thinking and career, this exhibition traces the development of Australia to full adulthood - to the moment when Australia had to stand apart from Britain and defend its own soil. The exhibition is an exploration, through the eyes of one of Australia's most prominent early citizens, of what it means to be a nation. There are two activities for younger students - a mix and match activity and a maths investigation. Senior students can investigate the changing role of government and try the quiz and cartoon study.


John Curtin's house. JCPML00632/1

Visiting John Curtin at home: 24 Jarrad St, Cottesloe
Houses and their furnishings can suggest a great deal about the people who inhabit them. Visit John Curtin at home in his Jarrad St house, built in 1923 and purchased by the Federal and West Australian Governments in 1999. Photographs, video and sound help to bring to life the story of the Prime Minister's modest home in Cottesloe. There's an exploration activity with interactive quizzes, a mix and match activity and a written task for those who want to learn more.

War & peace: rationing & rebuilding: 1940s life in Cottesloe, WA
Explore what it was like to live in John Curtin's home community as Australia moved from war-time privations to peace and growing prosperity. Covering everything from getting around, keeping in touch, school, work and having fun, this resource contains a wealth of information, plenty of anecdotes and images and online activities for the adventurous.