Guide to the Papers of Charles Bliss
National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record
- 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 (http://nla.gov.au/nla.cat-vn745852).
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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s).Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.
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.
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.
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.
Included are invitations, newspaper cuttings, correspondence and typescripts.