National Archives of Australia: Possible PhD topics

Proposed ANU/NAA doctoral topics supported by records in the collection of the National Archives of Australia.

1. Role of Governor-General – ‘depicting a nation to its people’ unpacking Sir Ninian Stephen’s quote
In his address at the Swearing-in Ceremony on 1 July 2019, His Excellency, General the Hon David Hurley AC DSC (retd) referred to Sir Ninian Stephen’s description of the role of Governor-General as ‘depicting a nation to its people’.
Relevant records
The following records provide insights into the office of the Governor-General and the range of duties and activities of Governors-General and their spouses.

  • Queen Victoria’s Letters Patent constituting the Office of Governor-General – A10873
  • Official records of the Governor-General (CA 1) from 1900, including Patronage Books (A7460), Lord Gowrie’s visitors book (A13852), Sir Ronald Munro-Ferguson and Lady Helen Munro-Ferguson’s Lists of Engagements (A7615)
  • Personal records collections deposited with the National Archives by a number of former Governors-General including:
    • Richard Casey (CP 24)
    • Paul Hasluck (CP 115)
    • John Kerr (CP 266)
    • Zelman Cowen (CP 335)
    • Ninian Stephen (CP 457)


2. Republic debate
Relevant records

  • Republic Advisory Committee (CA 9106)
  • Constitutional Convention 1988 (CA 8801)


3. Environmental issues and activism
Relevant records
Keyword searching on RecordSearch will identify relevant records on a range of topics including:

  • Franklin Dam, uranium mining, records of the Bureau of Meteorology (head office – CA 1835) and various state and regional offices, Port Arthur Sea level measurements, 1837-1877 – P2472


4. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – activism and issues
Relevant records


5. Public health
Relevant records

  • Department of Health – CA 17
  • Central Medical Coordination Committee CA 315 and Medical Equipment Control Committee – CA 423
  • Public health campaigns – Anti-smoking, ‘Life be in it’, seat belts, AIDS


6. Copyright and/or trade mark collections – insights into the creative impulses of Australians
Relevant records


7. Wool trade – Australia’s dominance in the global market through the twentieth century
Relevant records

  • Thirty three agencies dating from 1916 with responsibility for wool – in RecordSearch use keyword ‘wool’ on ‘Advanced search – Agencies’ screen


8. Gun control in Australia
Relevant records
Keyword searching on RecordSearch will identify relevant records created by a range of Commonwealth agencies/persons including:

  • Cabinet Office
  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet – A1209, A463
  • John Howard collection – CP 197


9. Industrial relations
Relevant records

  • Records of Fair Work Commission (and predecessor agencies) CA 9924, including
    • dispute case files (B206, B207)
    • records relating to registered organisations, i.e. employee associations (unions) and employer associations (B2100, B2096).

10. Global silk trade, and its replacement by the global artificial silk/synthetic fibres industries
Relevant records
Keyword searching on RecordSearch will identify relevant records created by a range of Commonwealth agencies including:

  • Department of Trade and Customs – A1667, A1732, A11830
  • External Affairs – A458, A461
  • Patent Office – A627, A13882
  • Cabinet – A4940
  • Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) – A8510
  • Tariff Board – B1, B8
  • Collector of Customs – B13, D596
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Updated:  2 October 2019/Responsible Officer:  CASS Marketing & Communications/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications