The Robert Menzies Collection

The Robert Menzies Collection, comprising his personal library along with records of his life, photographs and ephemera, is held in the University of Melbourne’s Archives and Special Collections. From the beginning of his education at Melbourne Law School in 1913 to his post-Prime Ministerial position as Chancellor in 1967, Menzies maintained a warm interest in the University of Melbourne. The roughly 4000 books in his library were gifted to the University in 1976 and the papers from Menzies’ time as Chancellor were deposited with the University in in 1978 following his death.

Records of Sir Robert’s life as student, lawyer, politician, and Chancellor held in the collection range from his student card to his robes as Chancellor, audio tapes of his lectures and speeches and correspondence with prominent politicians and letters between businesses during his time as Prime Minister.

A black and white bookplate of a desk with a small chest, a wig and a document that says 'Declaration of war'.

Bookplate for Robert Menzies. Photo: NLA

Within the collection are several photographic albums that document Menzies’ trips to India, the Netherlands, Greece, West Germany, the Philippines, Malta, Japan, and Indonesia, as well as the Royal Visit of 1954.

The collection also incorporates considerable handwritten materials: personal notes, manuscripts, and an incomplete set of notebooks covering the period when Menzies was a student at the University of Melbourne and a barrister - lecture notes made as an undergraduate and as a sessional law tutor; lists of Menzies’ clients and fees; and legal notes made as a barrister at Selborne Chambers.

Some notebooks contain loose documents, mostly relating to law and cases, plus miscellaneous material dating from Menzies’ student years. Some later notebooks relate to Menzies’ early political career.

As custodian of the collection, the University of Melbourne is committed to its digital and physical preservation, and both can be freely accessed via the Archives and Special Collections website.


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