Guide to the Papers of Charles Bliss


MS 3884

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

Peter Samuel
Papers of Charles Bliss
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 3884
10.06 metres (68 boxes, 1 folio)
Language of Materials
National Library of Australia


Scope and Contents

The papers comprise correspondence, cuttings, research notes, and roneoed material relating to Bliss's several publications on semantography and communications. The newspaper and journal cuttings are arranged under the headings Language, Education, Biology, History, Religion, and Pioneers of new ideas, and, together with work notes and early drafts of articles, form the basis of his two most important books Semantography (Blissymbolics) and The Invention and Discovery that will change our lives.

There are also over 200 issues of Bliss's roneoed newsletters Semantography series (Nos. 1-203), which date from 1949 to 1964. The correspondence, which is arranged alphabetically, reveals the world-wide interest shown in Bliss's work. Principal correspondents are Douglas Everingham, Professor Oliver Reiser and Fritz Treuer.

The papers added in November 1986 have some categories which are incomplete, because they appear not to have been preserved by Bliss in their entirety.

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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s).Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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], MS 3884, National Library of Australia, Papers of Charles Bliss, [box number and series and/or file number]'.


The papers of Charles Bliss were acquired by the Library, initially from Bliss and, following his death, from his executor and the State Library of New South Wales. They were received in a number of instalments from 1973 to June 1994.

Biographical Note

Charles Kasiel Blitz was born to Jewish parents in Austria in 1897. After graduating in Chemical Engineering from Vienna Technical University in 1922, Bliss became chief of patents in a large electrical firm. He fled from Nazi occupation during World War II, making his way via England to Shanghai where he lived until travelling to Australia in 1946. While in England, he officially changed his surname to Bliss.

In Australia, Bliss did not return to his profession of chemical engineering, but took a job on the construction line of General Motors Holden, so that he could concentrate on perfecting a system of sign language he had developed using 'Blissymbols' to help people communicate. The system enabled people to use simple symbols to express themselves, without being confused by spelling and grammatical complexities. In 1949 he published Semantic Bliss symbols. In 1971 the Ontario Crippled Children's Home began to use Bliss symbols for the teaching of communication to cerebral palsied children.

After the death of his wife Claire in 1961, the Semantography Trust Fund was established under the terms of her will, for the purpose of propagating the Bliss concept. In 1974, Film Australia and the National Film Board of Canada made a film about Bliss entitled Mr Symbol Man. The Blissymbolics Communication Foundation was established in Toronto, Canada in 1975, to maintain standard symbol form and to provide training and materials for people who apply Blissymbolics with non-speaking persons. The Foundation was renamed the Blissymbolics Communication Institute in 1978.

Bliss received an Order of Australia in 1969 and an Advance Australia Award in 1982 in recognition of his work. He was also appointed an Honorary Fellow in Linguistics at the Australian National University in 1979. Charles Bliss died at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick on 13 July 1985 after a short illness.

Item Descriptions

Class. Original Consignment

Completed books on Semantography-Blissymbolics (File) - Box 1-2

Early manuscripts and work notes (File) - Box 3-5

Manuscript of The Invention and Discovery that will change our Lives, including references to 'Nuclear Weapons' used in the book (File) - Box 6

Original drawings by Murray A. Frederick for the book Invention and Discovery (File) - Box 7

Newspaper and journal article references used in the book Invention and Discovery (File) - Box 7

Newspaper and journal article references on symbols and language used in the books (File) - Box 8

Newspaper and journal article references on education used in the books (File) - Box 9

Newspaper and journal article references on biology used in the books (File) - Box 10

Newspaper and journal article references on history used in the books (File) - Box 11

Newspaper and journal article references on religion and pioneers of new ideas used in the books (File) - Box 12

Semantography Series: issues Nos.1-180 (File) - Box 13

Semantography Series: issues Nos. 181-203 (File) - Box 14

Original documents to the Semantography Series: issues Nos. 1-203 (File) - Box 15-20

Correspondence: Douglas Everingham, 1951-70 (File) - Box 21

Correspondence: Oliver Reiser, 1949-72 Fritz Treuer, 1948-72 (File) - Box 22

Correspondence fragments, 1946-73, A-E (File) - Box 23

Correspondence fragments, 1946-73, F-M (File) - Box 24

Correspondence fragments, 1946-73, N-Z (File) - Box 25

Class. Consignment Received 1977

Back to the Tower of Babel : booklet of Semantography Series, No. 278 (File) - Box 26

Transcripts of lectures, 1977 Circular letter by G.W. Hewes, 1972 (File) - Box 26

Press releases, 1972 (File) - Box 26

Class. Consignment Received 4 April 1985

The Blissymbols Picture Book, by C.K. Bliss and correspondence with the Director-General at the National Library of Australia (File) - Box 26

Class. Consignment Received 16 October 1986

'In Memory of Claire', typescript by C.K. Bliss (File) - Box 26

Class. Consignment Received November 1986 - Box 26

Not used (File) - Box 27

Correspondence in named files, A-M (File) - Box 28-29

Correspondence in named files, N-Z (File) - Box 30-31

Letters and book orders, 1970-77, D-H (File) - Box 32

Letters and book orders, 1970-77, I-Q (File) - Box 33

Letters and book orders, 1970-77, S-Z (File) - Box 34

Letters and book orders, 1978-79, F-K; correspondence with Doug Everingham, 1972-75 (File) - Box 35

Letters and book orders, 1978-79, L-Z (File) - Box 36

Correspondence, 1980 (File) - Box 37

Business and personal correspondence, 1964-85 (File) - Box 38-40

The bulk of the correspondence relates to Bliss's dispute with the Blissymbolics Communications Foundation, Canada, and the subsequent court case. Some correspondence with friends is included and there is also business correspondence relating to the boarding house Bliss managed in Coogee, Sydney, correspondence courses he ran and the printing of his books, both in Australia and Japan.

Canada: material relating to legal proceedings that took place between Charles Bliss, the Blissymbolics Communication Institute (formerly Blissymbolics Communication Foundation) and the Ontario Crippled Children's Centre in 1980 (File) - Box 41-51

Papers relating to a nomination by Douglas Everingham to award the 1969 Nobel Peace Prize to Bliss, 1968-71 (File) - Box 52-53

Various manuscript drafts (File) - Box 54-56

'In Memory of Claire': papers relating to Bliss's wife Claire (File) - Box 57

Documents, memorabilia, photographs (File) - Box 58

Shanghai papers (File) - Box 59

Memorabilia, 1978 (File) - Box 59

Photographs (File) - Box 59

Press cuttings (File) - Box 60

Albums (File) - Box 60

Miscellaneous documents (File) - Box 60

Publications (File) - Box 61

Class. Consignment Received 16 June 1994

Alphabetical files, B-H (File) - Box 62

Alphabetical files, H-M (File) - Box 63

Alphabetical files, M-S (File) - Box 64

Minute books containing copies of personal documents of Charles and Claire Bliss, 1961-84 (File) - Box 65

Sydney correspondence (in German)to family in Europe, 1946-49 (File) - Box 65

Sydney papers, 1943-82 (File) - Box 66

Included are invitations, newspaper cuttings, correspondence and typescripts.

Papers on patents, 1949-67 (File) - Box 66

Correspondence, 1974-80 (File) - Box 66

Correspondence and other papers, relating to the court case Charles K. Bliss -v- Blissymbolics Communications Foundation and the Ontario Crippled Children's Centre in the Supreme Court of Ontario, 1974-80 (File) - Box 67

Correspondence, 1984 (File) - Box 67

BCI conference papers and other papers, 1984 (File) - Box 67

Miscellaneous papers including articles and newspaper clippings, 1953-80 (File) - Box 68

Printed matter (File) - Box 68

Cutting book, 1943-81 containing newspaper clippings, pamphlets and correspondence (File) - Box 68