'A significant collection'
The research papers of Tom Fitzgerald are particularly significant because
of the detail of the investigative and analytical work undertaken by Fitzgerald
and how this is clearly documented in his files. This is the only known
John Curtin biographical endeavour not to reach publication.
The 539 files assemble a wealth of background material
on Curtin – identifying pieces written anonymously by him in the
Westralian [Worker], plotting the formation of his
ideas through his writings before World War One, tracking down his reading
choices and political activities for the same period, corresponding
with contemporaries and particularly with his daughter over a fifteen
year period. All this material has been annotated and, in part, collated
by Fitzgerald into sections that demonstrate where the biography was
Simon Taafe, Book & manuscript valuer, 2002
The value of the material in the collection is
significantly enhanced by Fitzgerald’s detective work .. and his
extensive annotations and notes. He wrote to Peter Ryan, ‘I’ve
an insatiable appetite for ..morsels of actuality’ 
and he had the investigative journalist’s concern for thoroughness
and accuracy... Economist Dr John Edwards, who has used the collection
for his own research on Curtin, considers that Tom Fitzgerald carried
out a tremendous labour in pursuing, analysing and annotating the development
of Curtin’s economic ideas and believes that there is no other
comparable source of information for following this development.
Baiba Berzins, Freelance archivist and historian, 2002
Arrangement & description of the research papers
records of Tom Fitzgerald are accessible via the JCPML Electronic
Research Archive (ERA). Material is arranged in ERA in a hierarchical
structure which has either three or four levels, depending on the degree
of detail needed to adequately describe the records. The levels are: Creator;
Series; File; and Item. Selected records have been digitised and are available
as images and/or full text files while finding aids are provided for material
that has not been digitised.
There are three series for creator Tom Fitzgerald. Each series contains
one or more files. Many of the files are further subdivided into items.
Follow the links to each of the series below to access the records in
ERA and then work through the hierarchy to the files and items. Images
and text, where available, are attached to either files or items and are
accessed by clicking on the Go to digital objects icon which
is a red and white arrow.
notes for a biography of John Curtin - Files c.1952-c.1992.
This series consists primarily of photocopied material, most annotated
by Fitzgerald. The annotated, photocopied material is often accompanied
by Fitzgerald’s own notes, illustrating his thoughts about particular
issues, his evaluation of sources, matters to be clarified, etc. There
is much duplication since Fitzgerald’s method of working was to
create files which contained material from a particular source and then
to distribute duplicate copies of relevant material to files dealing
with particular topics. The topics encompass individuals (eg Frank Anstey,
WM Hughes) and events, organisations and issues (eg World War One, Compulsory
military training, Education and Self-Education, Curtin and economics,
Socialist newspaper, Victorian Socialist Party).
The range and volume of photocopied material is large: extracts from
books, theses, pamphlets, journals and newspapers, press clippings, encyclopaedias
and dictionaries, Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, minutes of meetings
and copies of items from manuscript and archive collections. The research
material includes the origins and history of political terms, philosophies
and movements. The research material includes information which dates
from as early as c.1789.
This series also contains Fitzgerald’s correspondence with contemporaries
of Curtin and other relevant correspondence about sources and information
relevant to Curtin, including notes of interviews and conversations (with,
eg Sir Paul Hasluck, Peter Ryan [of Melbourne University Press], Geoffrey
Serle, Sir Percy Spender).
The most significant correspondence consists of the originals of letters
to Fitzgerald from Curtin’s daughter Elsie Macleod, along with copies
of Fitzgerald’s letters to Mrs Macleod and copies of material in
Mrs Macleod’s possession relating to Curtin and his family and to
issues arising in the letters (eg television program Hell Fire Jack, Curtin’s
reading choices, Memorial Service for Curtin at Westminster Abbey). These
letters span the period 1975 to 1992 and include the exchange of personal
and family information between Elsie Macleod and Tom Fitzgerald and his
notes for a biography of John Curtin - Loose papers c. 1952-1992
This series contains original and copied material, similar to the series
Research notes for a biography of John Curtin – files. It includes
extracts from books, encyclopaedias and dictionaries, reports and papers,
Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, articles and book reviews from newspapers
and journals, a photograph of John Curtin, a set of index cards created
by Fitzgerald that provide references and information on specific people
and events, and anti-conscription postcards from 1916. The large number
of book extracts, on topics as varied as women, feminism, war, politics,
philosophy, language, socialism, theology, science, histories, nationalism
and culture, are generally not duplicated elsewhere in the Fitzgerald
records. This series also contains loose notes bundled together under
titles such as General notes re Curtin 1907-1979. The research material
includes information which dates from as early as c.1789.
& conversation notes, Tom Fitzgerald & Elsie Macleod. 1975 -1992
This series consists of copies of letters and conversation notes exchanged
between Tom Fitzgerald and John Curtin’s daughter, Elsie Macleod,
relating to the proposed biography of John Curtin, arranged as far as
possible in chronological order. The correspondence and notes have been
selected by the JCPML from originals contained in the series Research
notes for a biography of John Curtin - Files.
1. John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.
Records of Tom Fitzgerald. Letter from Tom Fitzgerald to Peter Ryan, 13
April (no year) JCPML00653/20/7