Primary Sources 50 stories from 50 years of the Archives

Primary sources

2010 marks 50 years since the University of Melbourne Archives (UMA) was founded. Created mainly for the benefit of researchers and students of the University, but with the wider community in mind, UMA remains a treasure trove of primary source material which continues to grow. Two such primary sources, relating firstly to the establishment of the University and, more than 100 years later, the establishment of the archives, are included in the collection.

A letter book documents the early correspondence of the University Council, temporarily based at the Supreme Court, and includes Redmond Barry's notification to the colony's Lieutenant Governor of his election to the position of the Chancellor of the University in May of 1853.

While UMA's anniversary date can be pinpointed to the appointment of the founding archivist, Frank Strahan, on 29 of June 1960, proposals regarding the establishment of a formal University Archives had been in train for at least two years. Driven by a number of academics from both history and commerce, various proposals discuss the feasibility of appointing an archivist and include an architect's design of desired facilities. The need to document the history of the University and its day-to-day administration was accompanied by the opportunity and desirability of collecting Victorian business archives that would enable research in the relatively new field of economic history.

Vice-Chancellor G.W. Paton was integral to the appointment of Strahan and a staunch supporter of the archives well after their establishment, granting access permissions and remaining personally involved in acquisitions and the general activities of the archives. This letter, while succinct, is an indication of his interest and involvement.

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