About

About the Robert Menzies Collection

The Robert Menzies Collection comprises around 3800 books (as well as photograph albums, notebooks, periodicals, maps and ephemera) from the personal library of Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, twice Prime Minister of Australia (from 1939 to 1941 and again 1949 to 1966).

The collection is both a personal library and a working one: it includes gifts from family members and friends as well as material relating to Menzies’ career from barrister to Prime Minister. It spans his life from schooldays to retirement. In this sense, it is a ‘living library’; a reflection of a life.

Read more about the Robert Menzies Collection.

About the project

This project aimed to map the connections between books, authors, writers of inscriptions, events and organisations represented in Menzies’ personal library. The resultant website lists all books in the collection and provides contextual information about people, organisations and events associated with Menzies' life and career.

A key source document for this project was a typed list of the collection (subsequently found to be incomplete) probably compiled by Menzies’ secretary Hazel Craig. Copies of the list are held in both the records of the University of Melbourne and Menzies’ personal papers at the National Library of Australia (which also holds a set of index cards on which the typed list appears to have been based). The list is divided roughly into subject areas (such as literature, art, Australian history, law, religion) and records (although imperfectly) the title and author of each book; its year of publication and whether it was ‘presented’ by an organisation or ‘autographed’. It also records where each book was kept: Menzies’ office, his study at home or his bedroom.

Dates of acquisition

We have tried to determine when each book was added to the collection. These dates have been recorded in the ‘Summary’ section of each book record. Sources for dates include:

  • Books signed and dated by Menzies himself.
  • Dated inscriptions in books given by others.
  • Presentation slips from organisations that Menzies was associated with.
  • ‘Prime Minister’s Office’ stamps. These record the date that books were received.
  • ‘Acknowledged’ dates. These are usually pencilled at the top of the front endpaper.

Locations

‘Menzies Locations’ are taken from the typed catalogue of the collection held in the records of the University of Melbourne. The list records whether a book was held in Menzies’ office, his study or his bedroom. The list does not include every book in the collection, so some ‘Book’ records do not include a ‘Menzies Location’.

‘Locations’ in the form 1.1, 1.2 etc. refer to the bay and shelf in the Leigh Scott Room, Baillieu Library.

Accessing the collection

The Robert Menzies Collection is managed by Special Collections, part of the University of Melbourne Library. It is not an open access collection. For more information see http://www.lib.unimelb.edu.au/sg/help/collection/baillspcmenz.html.

References and further reading

Attwood, Alan. ‘Menzies between the covers’, The Age, 22 July 1982, 9.

‘Books gift by Menzies’, Sydney Morning Herald, 2 March 1976, 5.

‘Menzies’ gift to University’, The Age, 2 March 1976, 2.

‘Robert Menzies Collection’, University of Melbourne Gazette, vol. 36, no. 4 (December 1980): 12.

‘The Robert Menzies Collection presented to University.’ Staff News, vol. 8, no. 8 (October 1980): 140.

Stone, Caitlin and Jim Berryman. ‘Making personal libraries accessible: The example of the Robert Menzies Collection.’ Australian Library Journal 63, no. 3 (2014): 238–46. doi: 10.1080/00049670.2014.915499.

Stone, Caitlin and Jim Berryman. The Robert Menzies Collection at the University of Melbourne. University of Melbourne Collections 12 (June 2013): 45-50.