This selection of letters documenting the relationship between Prime Minister John Curtin and the general public during the years 1941-1945 is the result of a joint project between the National Archives of Australia and the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library (JCPML).
The project has been jointly managed by the JCPML Director, Vicki Williamson, and the Director General of the Australian Archives, George Nichols. They wish to acknowledge the contribution made to the project by their specific staffs and to especially thank Anne-Marie Schwirtlich, Margaret Mansfield and Lesley Carman-Brown for their input.
The purpose of this digitisation project is to explore how the currently available technology can assist in the capture and storage of archival material in digital form and also how it can be used to provide easy client access.
Altogether there are nearly 500 separate documents which have been stored as more than 570 individual images. These documents have been drawn from the personal records of John Curtin held at the National Archives of Australia (Selection of Material).
Arrangement of Material
The documents have been arbitrarily divided into nine main categories according to the origin and/or destination of the material encompassed, with three of these categories being further subdivided:
Business Individuals and Organisations
Defence Personnel & Defence Matters
Religious Individuals and Organisations
Trade Unions or Associations
Voluntary Associations and/or Charitable Organisations
Individual documents are identified by
date (unless unavailable), author and unique identifier. The unique identifier
is composed of alpha characters corresponding to its category and/or its
subcategory, and a three digit number. For example:
The Category listing enables the user to move directly to a chosen category and view sequentially the individual documents within the category or sub-category.
(For information on the original context of the files see Selection of Material).
How to doFurther Research on the Material
The digitised documents can be retrieved for viewing either through their Category or from the List of Index Terms. When viewed on screen, each document also contains its original National Archives series and item number, eg CRS M1415 Item 36 (portion).
The documents in this website are only a selection of material from two series maintained by the Australian Archives and the full series can be viewed by selecting either M1415 or M1416. The National Archives also has a person registration for Prime Minister John Curtin which can be viewed.
If you wish to pursue other documents in
these series, please contact the National
Archives of Australia with a request and
cite the National Archives series number, eg CRS M1415.
Technical Information about the Project
As part of the objective for this project was to provide users with as close an image to the original document as possible, it was decided that the highest quality scanning should be used. Individual documents were first photographed onto 35 mm colour transparencies by the National Archives and these transparencies were then transferred to a digital image by Scott Four Colour Print, using Kodak Photo CD technology. Each digital image was scanned in a range of resolutions. For this project the chosen file size of the images is 512x768 with a resolution of 72 dpi, stored in JPEG compression.
The format chosen to present this information is HTML (Hyper-Text Markup Language) using the Netscape Navigator. HTML was chosen because of its universal ability to transfer between different media and platforms.
The physical sizes of the original documents vary. However, at the time of photographing each image filled the 35 mm frame. A scale is therefore included with each image to indicate its true size.
Selection of Material for the Project
The documents chosen for inclusion are a sampling of material taken from the personal records of John Curtin held at the National Archives in Canberra. The specific series are: CRS M1415 and CRS M1416 and the recording agency is the Prime Minister's Department - Prime Minister's Office. Material within these series dates from 7 October 1941 to 5 July 1945. Both of these series consist principally of thousands of letters or representations, either directly from organisitions or individuals, about subjects of concern to Australians during the years of John Curtin's Prime Ministership. Amongst the documents are letters of congratulations and support to John Curtin, as well as some newspaper clippings from the era.
Material from these particular series document the relationship between the Prime Minister and his office and the general public. As such, the documents do not trace policy development or its execution; the conduct of the war; inside politics of the Australian Labor Party, etc. and readers should not expect this.
The documents have been selected, as much as possible, to show a balanced cross section of the records from these series in terms of subject, tone (eg supportive or critical), the geographic spread of writers, the gender of the author, and so on.
With the exception of the cover photograph which was donated to the JCPML collection by Mrs Claire Lupton of Bega, NSW, the photographs used for the categories come from series CRS M1218 at the National Archives of Australia, as follows:
|Business category:||John Curtin with the US Secretary of State, Cordell
Hull, Washington DC 1944.|
Photograph is part of the National Archives Series CRS M1218 item 10.
|Defence category:||John Curtin and his wife, Elsie, with General Blamey, leaving Sydney for the USA, 5 April 1944. Photograph is part of the National Archives Series CRS M1218 item 5.|
|Newspapers Category:||John Curtin addressing the Premiers' Conference, Ottawa, 1944. Photograph is part of the National Archives Series CRS M1218 item 13.|
|Political Category:||John Curtin addressing the combined session, Houses of Parliament, Ottawa, Canada, 1944. Photograph is part of the National Archives Series CRS M1218 item 4.|
|Private Category:||John Curtin with Lord Halifax, British Ambassador to the USA, Washington DC, 23 April 1944. Photograph is part of the National Archives Series CRS M1218 item 8.|
|Religious Category:||John Curtin and his wife, Elsie, with the Canadian Prime Minister, MacKenzie King (right), examining the Book of Remembrance in the Memorial Chapel, Peace Tower, Parliament Building, Ottawa, Canada, 1944. Photograph is part of the National Archives Series CRS M1218 item 12.|
|Solicitors Category:||Conference of Dominiion Prime Ministers, London, 1944. Photograph is part of the National Archives Series CRS M1218 item 11.|
|Trade Unions Category:||John Curtin (centre) talking with William Hughes (left) and the Duke of Gloucester (right) Canberra, 1945. Photograph is part of the National Archives Series CRS M1218 item 9.|
|Voluntary Category:||John Curtin and New Zealand Prime Minister, Peter Fraser, being conferred with Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws, Cambridge University, 1944. Photograph is part of the National Archives Series CRS M1218 item 6.|
Last modified 17th July 1998.
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