MS 8950
Papers of Harold Blair (1924-1976)

Scope and content note

  • Papers
  • 1924-1976
  • 33cm (1 box) + 2 folios
  • Available for reference

The papers were donated by Mrs Dorothy Blair in 1995

The papers cover Blair's musical career, his work on behalf of Aboriginal children, and his speeches and statements on Aboriginal issues. Five albums contain cuttings, programs, photographs and, to a lesser extent, letters, speeches, and leaflets. The three general albums have been indexed. The other two albums cover Blair's 1951 New York tour and his Commonwealth Jubilee tour of Australia in the same year.

Miscellaneous items include three small notebooks with notes and jottings, Australian Broadcasting Commission material, exercise boks from courses attended, and a copy of his biography Dark Man White World.

Biographical note

Harold Blair, Aboriginal tenor and activist, was born at the Cherbourg Aboriginal Mission in Queensland in 1924. Encouraged by Marjorie Lawrence he studied at the Conservatorium of Music in Melbourne, and in the United States. In 1949 he married Dorothy Eden, a fellow singing student at the Conservatorium, and went on to teach there from 1956. He was a very popular stage performer.

In 1962 Blair started the Aboriginal Children's project which provided Melbourne holidays for Mission children. He stood as the Labor candidate for the seat of Mentone in the 1964 Victorian Sate elections, losing only on preferences to the sitting member, the Minister for Transport. He died in Melbourne in 1976 at the age of 51.

Series description


1.     Cutting book 1945-49 containing cuttings, programs, ABC           
       contracts, and Conservatorium reports, covering Blair's early     
       music career in Queensland and Victoria.                          

2.     Cutting book 1951 covering a 26 recital tour of all States for    
       the ABC, for the jubilee year of the Commonwealth.                

3.     Album 1972-76 includes correspondence, ceritficates of            
       appreciation, congratulations on receiving the Order of           
       Australia, death and funeral notices, and obituaries.             
       Correspondents include Peter Karmel, B. M. Snedden, and E. G.     
       Dexter. Congratulatory messages include telegrams from Lord and   
       Lady Casey, William McMahon, Ian Viner, and David Combe.          

4-6.   Three small personal notebooks with notes and jottings, 1958-59   
       and undated.                                                      

7-9.   Course exercise books, Monash Teachers' College, and Melbourne    

10.    ABC material including concert programs, 1950-51.                 

11.    Dark man white world: a portrait of tenor Harold Blair by         
       Kenneth Harrison, 1975.                                           

Folio item

12.    Cutting book 1951-71 containing newspaper coverage of Blair's     
       bid to enter Parliament; invitations, programs and reviews.       

13.    Album of Blair's 1951 New York tour, including his only public    
       appearance at the Town Hall, New York City, 18 March 1951, in a   
       Benefit Preview Concert for the cultural exchange program of the  
       Australian Society of New York.  Album includes photographs,      
       information on the Society, and cuttings.                         
Guide compiled April 1996. Last updated 22 August 1996