National Library of Australia Collection

Originally part of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library, the National Library initiated the tradition of collecting and making accessible the personal archives of Australia’s prime ministers with Sir Edmund Barton in 1927. Since then, concerted efforts by Library staff have ensured that prime ministerial records were preserved for public access, until this responsibility was assumed by the National Archives of Australia.



The front of the National Library of Australia building.

Before the passage of the Archives Act in 1984, the National Library acquired the personal archives of 16 Australian prime ministers, from Edmund Barton to William McMahon. Major components of Barton, Deakin and Menzies papers are digitised. Menzies’ recorded speeches are available online as part of the Library’s oral history collection.

The Library’s holds an array of complementary sources on Australia’s prime ministers. These include hundreds of other archives of political parties, private secretaries, staffers, speech writers, bureaucrats and biographers.

Digitised pictures of Prime Ministers, including photographs, cartoons and caricatures and online recordings of Prime Ministerial addresses to the National Press. The Australian Web Archive contains archived versions from the prime ministerial websites of Howard, Gillard, Rudd, Turnbull, Abbott and Morrison. More information on the Library’s collection can be discovered through the catalogue and through Trove.


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