Guide to the Papers of Keith Arthur Murdoch

MS 2823

National Library of Australia

Collection Summary

Papers of Keith Arthur Murdoch
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 2823
3.15 metres (12 boxes, 3 folio boxes)
Language of Materials
National Library of Australia


Conditions Governing Access

Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (

Conditions Governing Use

Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.

Preferred Citation

Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Keith Arthur Murdoch, National Library of Australia, MS 2823, [series/file/item number]'.

Biographical Note

Keith Arthur Murdoch (1886-1952) journalist and Australian newspaper magnate, was born in Melbourne, son of Rev. Patrick John and Annie Brown Murdoch late of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. He was educated at Camberwell Grammar School and the London School of Economics. He began a journalist career with the Melbourne Age, as a correspondent for the district of Malvern. 1907 Murdoch left for London were he attended the London School of Economics

1910 Murdoch returned to the Age as a staff reporter for two years. 1912 he became political correspondent for the Sydney evening Sun 1915 Denison transferred Murdoch to London as managing editor of the United Cable Service of the Sun and the Melbourne Herald. He was than commissioned by Fisher and Pearce to go to Gallipoli as war correspondence to investigate Australian Imperial Force mail service and associated matters.

He was knighted in 1933 and appointed Trustee of the National Gallery, Victoria in the same year; Director-General of Information, June-December 1940; President Australian-American-Association (Victorian Section) 1941-46; Chairman of Directors Herald and Weekly Times from 1942 and director of Herald, Sun News-Pictorial and associated publications.

Murdoch married Elisabeth, daughter of Rupert Greene in 1928. They had one son, Keith Rupert and three daughters.

Murdoch died in 1952

Item Descriptions

Series 1. correspondence, 1908-1952

This series contains miscellaneous cuttings and correspondence with politicians, artists and other prominent Australians on various subject matters. Including the publication of W.M. Hughes Speeches, Lionel Lindsay's appointment as art critic for the Herald, the establishment of the Chair of Fine Art at Melbourne University, Australia's position prior the outbreak of World War I and other war matters. The correspondents include Alfred Deakin, W. H. Hughes, Arthur S. Spurgeon, Dame Nellie Melba, Lionel Lindsay, Sir Robert Menzies, Arthur Stretton, Harold Cox and C. Coles.

File 1. Two letters from Alfred Deakin to Murdoch, 13 April 1908, and 7 July 1915 - Box 1

File 2. Correspondence between W.M. Hughes and Murdoch and Arthur S. Spurgeon concerning the publication of Hughes speeches, 1913-40 - Box 1

File 3. Letters from Melba and a letter from Beverley Nichols about an article by Melba, 1922 - Box 1

File 4. Correspondence between Joseph Lyons and Murdoch, 1934-38 - Box 1

File 5. Correspondence with Lionel Lindsay, including his appointment as art critic for the Melbourne Herald, his knighthood, comments on the conduct of the War and the establishment of a Chair of Art at Melbourne University, 1944. Other correspondents include Arthur Stretton, 1935-47 - Box 1

File 6. Correspondence with R.G. Menzies, Harold Cox, A. G Cameron, J. A. Alexander, Roy Morgan, 1935-47 - Box 1

File 7. Correspondence relating to Sol Green Housing Trust, 1951-1952 - Box 1

File 8. Correspondence with George J. Coles, and Professor F. Wood-Jones, Dr Ross McOmish, 1936-47 - Box 1

File 9. Notes from Murdoch to his personal secretary, Miss Demello, 1952 - Box 1

File 10. Letters from Ivon and Alan Murdoch, J, C. Watson (Labor Papers Limited), Lord Beaverbrook, and Ross Smith, and a certificate from The London School of Economics, 1909-1922 - Box 2

File 11. Letters, cables and transcripts on Federal elections, J. A. Lyons, Australia's position prior to the outbreak of war, broadcasting of B.B.C. News. Other correspondents include E.F. Harrison. Don Cameron, W. R. Rolph, Clive Bailleau, W.S. Robinson, Sir Harry Brown, 1934-1939 - Box 2

File 12. Letters, cable and press cuttings on war matters. Correspondents include Irvine Douglas, C. J. A. Moses, W. J. Cleary, Hugh Denison, Clive Turnbull, Lord Birdwood, Lord Mountbatten, 1940-52 - Box 2

File 13. Miscellaneous letters and newspaper cuttings concerning Wantabagery and Booroomba pastoral properties; a letter of condolence to Elisabeth Murdoch from Lloyd Dumas. Other correspondents include W.C. Wentworth and George Masterman, 1945-1952 - Box 2

Series 2. War Correspondent, 1914-1918

Murdoch was a war correspondent in the Middle East during World War I. This series comprises correspondence including the "Gallipoli letter" to Andrew Fisher, transcripts and cuttings. The correspondents include Sir William Birdwood and W.M. Hughes on conscription, George Pearce, Sir Ian Hamilton, Sir John Monash Brudenall White, and C.E.W. Bean relating to Murdoch's war service.

File 1. Correspondence and documents including the "Gallipoli letter" 21 June-29 Dec. 1915 - Box 2

Gallipoli letter from Keith Arthur Murdoch to Andrew Fisher, 1915 [manuscript].

File 2. Three notes from Lord Northcliffe to Murdoch, 1916-17. Correspondence with Andrew Fisher, Sir George Pearce, Sir Ian Hamilton, Harold Asquith, J. Milner, 1916-1917 - Box 2

File 3. Correspondence, transcripts and clippings concerning the Dardenelles Commission and Ian Hamilton's diary, 1917-1920 - Box 2

File 4. A printed version, taken from a microfilm, of the "Gallipoli letter" from Murdoch to Andrew Fisher as it appears in the Northcliffe paper - Box 2

File 5. Correspondence with C.E.W. Bean, Brudenell White and Sir William Birdwood, June 1916-December 1917 - Box 2

File 6. Correspondence between Lt. General Sir William Birdwood and Murdoch, 1918-1919 - Box 3

File 7-8. Correspondence with W.M. Hughes and Lt. General Sir William Birdwood, 1916-18.relating to conscription (1916-18) - Box 3

File 9. Command of the A.I.F. Correspondence with Lt. General Sir William Birdwood, General Sir John Monash, W. M. Hughes, Brudenall White, C.E.W. Bean, 1916-19 - Box 3

File 10. Letters from Lord Fisher, Rudyard Kipling, A. Bonar Law, Sir George Pearce also cablegrams and passport, 1915-21 - Box 3

File 11. Letter resulting from Murdoch's visits to war fronts and matters of censorship, 1917-18 - Box 3

File 12. Five letters from Sir George Pearce, Earl Grey, General Robertson (Chief of Imperial Staff), L. S. Amery, 1915-17 - Box 3

File 13-17. Five small press cutting albums of articles sent to the Sun and Herald newspapers, 1915-18. (Volumes) - Box 4

Series 3. Herald and Weekly Times and newspaper publishing, 1917-1952

Murdoch working in London for the Times, he returned to Australia in 1921 as editor of the Melbourne Herald. This series contains correspondence with H.R. Denison, Theodore Fink, Lord Northcliffe and Murdoch's managing editors notes.

File 1. Correspondence with H.R. Denison, concerning Keith Murdoch's appointment as editor of the Herald Melbourne, 1917-1921 - Box 4

File 2. File of letters mostly from Theodore Fink to Murdoch, November 1915-July 1919 - Box 4

File 3-4. Correspondence between Fink and Murdoch relating to Melbourne Herald and Sydney Sun's internal politics, 1918-1920 - Box 4

File 5-6. Letters and telegrams between Murdoch and Fink,1920-21 - Box 4

File 7. Correspondence, notes and newspaper clippings between Murdoch and Lord Northcliffe, including Northcliffe's comments on the make-up and contents of the Herald, 1921-1922 - Box 5

File 8. Lord Northcliffe's "Messages from the Chief", 1921-1922 - Box 5

File 9. Letters, notes, newspaper clippings, memos and cables relating to the winding down of the Evening Sun Melbourne, 1923-1925 - Box 5

File 10. Correspondence, notes and newspaper clippings concerning the purchase of the Morning Post, 1927 - Box 5

File 11. Correspondence between Lloyd Dumas and Murdoch concerning Dumas appointment to the Adelaide office, 1929 - Box 5

File 12. Correspondence with W.J. Duggan concerning the Boycott of the Herald by the Melbourne Trade Hall Council, 1931 - Box 5

File 13. Correspondence concerning staff changes to The Star and the Herald Melbourne, 1933 - Box 5

File 14. Correspondence with C.E.W. Bean, 1933-1934 - Box 5

File 15. Correspondence with J.A. Lyons, R.G. Menzies, E. J. Harrison and A.H. Stuart regarding establishing the Australian Newsprint Mill Industry, 1937-1941 - Box 6

File 16. Correspondence with Claude McKay, Stan Cross and V. G. Kelly concerning negotiation with Smith's newspapers, 1933-1950 - Box 6

File 17. Correspondence with Colin Bednall, R. Simmonds, John Bennett, Adrian Ball and Malcolm Forsyth regarding staff matters, 1938-1949 - Box 6

File 18. Correspondence with Captain H.C. Curmi regarding gunners of Malta, 1942 - Box 6

File 19. Correspondence with R.K. Palmer, E.K. Smart, J. J. Simmonds and J.F. Williams, 1942-1947 - Box 6

File 20. Correspondence and newspaper clippings concerning death of Roydon Keith Palmer, 1944 - Box 6

File 21. Correspondence with S.G. Holland, Edward Boot, Roy Howard, C. J. Morley and John Hetherington, 1942-1944 - Box 6

File 22. A. A. P independence letter from Simmonds to Murdoch, 1947 also correspondence with Gillis Purcell, Canadian Press, 1947-1949 - Box 6

File 23. Correspondence between G.F. Guthrie, Colin Grigg, W.C. Wentworth, Patrick Gibson, Harold Cox and others, 1947-52 - Box 6

File 24. Empire Press Union Conference, correspondence relating to selection of delegates, 1950 - Box 7

File 25-26. Murdoch Managing Editors notes, 1924-1925, 1929 and 1931 - Box 7

File 27. Three catalogues of art exhibition sponsored by the Herald and the Advertiser, Adelaide, also a file of Murdoch's visit to Washington and New York, June 1944

File 28. Microfilm print-outs of letters between Murdoch and Lord Northcliffe and extracts from the Northcliffe's papers in the British Museum, 1915-922

Series 4. University of Melbourne, 1944-55

Keith Murdoch founded the Herald Chair of Fine Arts at the University of Melbourne in 1944. This series comprises mainly correspondence between Murdoch and Professor Joseph Burke.

File 1-3. University of Melbourne, correspondence, 1944 - Box 7

Series 5. National Gallery of Victoria, 1941-1949

Murdoch was appointed as a trustee of the Victorian Public Library in 1933. This was later split into four administrative trusts, one of which is the National Gallery of Victoria. In 1945 Murdoch was made Chairman of the National Gallery of Victoria's trustees. This series contains correspondence relating to the Gallery's administration such as staffing matters and the Felton Bequest. The correspondents include Daryl Lindsay, Sir Kenneth Clark, Randolph Schwabe, H.S. Bailey and J.S. Donald.

File 1. National Gallery Concerts, correspondence with the ABC, W. C Cleary, C. C Wicks and Tom Holt, 1940-41 - Box 8

File 2. Correspondence with Leighton Irwin (Architects - Box 8

File 3. Correspondence concerning exhibitions, 1943 - Box 8

File 4. Correspondence and reports on post war reconstruction matters, 1944 - Box 8

File 5. Kent Collection of Oriental Art: report and correspondence to trustees, 1942-1945 - Box 8

File 6. Correspondence concerning staff matters and reconstruction, 1944-45 - Box 8

File 7. Controversy about proposed new National Gallery. Extracts from newspapers correspondence and newspaper clippings, 1944-1945 - Box 8

File 8. Correspondence concerning separation of the Victorian Public Library into four institutions, including the National Gallery of Victoria, 1944 - Box 8

File 9-10. Correspondence concerning Daryl Lindsay's Overseas trip, 1944-1945 - Box 8

File 11-12. Felton Bequest Committee concerning buying policy, correspondence with Sir Kenneth Clark, Randolph Schwabe, 1944-46 - Box 9

File 13. Report of the Trustees of the Public Library, Museum, and the National Gallery. Correspondence with Seddon Galleries and other administrative matters, 1946 - Box 9

File 14. Minutes and reports of special meeting of the National Gallery Trustees, 1944 - Box 9

File 15. Minutes of meetings, 1947 - Box 9

File 16. Correspondence concerning Sir Kenneth Clark's visit, also exchange of exhibition with South Australia, 1949 - Box 9

File 17. Correspondence with Lionel Lindsay relating to collection of Charles Keen's drawings, 1949-50 - Box 9

File 18. Correspondence with Daryl Lindsay, General Ramsay, Colin G. Rigg and others, concerning staff and administrative matters, 1951-52 - Box 9

Series 6. Director General of Information, June -December 1940

The Prime Minister Robert Menzies appointed Murdoch to Director-General of Information in 1940. This series contains correspondence, notes of discussion of the War Cabinet, a speech by Murdoch and newspaper cuttings. The correspondents are Robert G. Menzies, Sir Robert Garren and Ivor Birtwistle.

File 1-3. Director General of Information, General Correspondence, 1940 - Box 10

Series 7. Speeches and Broadcasts, 1942-51

This series contains mostly Murdoch's notes and text of speeches, 1943-1945.

File 1-3. Speeches, 1934-45 - Box 10

Series 8. Photographs

File 1. Five photographs, including two of Murdoch in uniform during the Gallipoli period, and a portrait of Keith and Annie Murdoch (also includes, 1 folio) - Box 10

Item 8/1. Portrait of Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch

Series 9. Newspaper clippings, 1919-26, 1952

Newspaper clippings, including Gallipoli press cutting albums, 1919-29, and one press cutting album containing tributes and obituaries on Keith Murdoch's death.

File 1-3. Newspaper clippings - Box 11

File 4-9. Scrapbooks (5 scrapbooks, 1 folio scrapbook) - Box 11

Series 10. Printed Materials, 1919-26, 1952

File 1. One article 'Labor papers Limited': A concise history of the struggle for Union owned chain of newspapers, 1925

Series 11. C. E. Sayers

Sayers was Murdoch's biographer and this series contains research material, notes, and extracts of letters from his father Patrick John Murdoch; newspaper cuttings and correspondence with Walter Murdoch and other family members concerning the biography 'A life of Keith Murdoch.

File 1. Correspondence with Walter Murdoch concerning biography, 1966 - Box 12

File 2. Correspondence with Ralph Simmonds, British Museum relating to Northcliffe and Murdoch's papers, 1966 - Box 12

File 3. Correspondence with Claude McKay, Peter Haydon, George Pearce, 1966-1967 - Box 12

File 4. Correspondence, notes and copies of letters concerning the life of K. Murdoc - Box 12

File 5. Extracts of letters of Keith Murdoch to his father, 1908-1910 - Box 12

File 6-8. Sayers notes and outline of biography. Biography by C.E. Sayers: "A life of Keith Murdoch, Newspaper Reporter." (3 Volume typescript held in folio run) - Box 12