Guide to the Papers of Wendy Lowenstein
National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record
- Lowenstein, Wendy, 1927-2006
- Papers of Wendy Lowenstein
- Date Range
- 1918-2003 (bulk 1953-2000)
- Collection Number
- MS 9968
- 4.4 metres (31 boxes, 3 elephant folios and 2 folios)
- Language of Materials
- National Library of Australia
Scope and Content
Papers documenting Wendy Lowenstein's activities in the fields of folklore, oral history and the peace movement. They consist of correspondence, interview transcripts, papers relating to her writing, publishing and other professional activities, song lyrics and music, photographs, fliers and posters. Correspondents well-represented in the papers include Russel Ward, Ron Edwards, Shirley Andrews, Warren Fahey, Bill Scott, Alan Scott, Drew Cottle, Danny Watson, Peter Hamilton (Wattle Recordings), John Meredith, Keith McKenry, Don Henderson, Dorothy Howard, Graham Seal and Harry Robertson.
The collection is available for reference.
Copying and Publishing
Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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], Papers of Wendy Lowenstein, National Library of Australia, MS 9968, [series and/or file number]'.
Three consignments of papers were purchased by the Library from Lowenstein in 2000. A further small consignment was donated to the Library by Lowenstein's children via Monash University. The Library received the consignment from the University's Institute for Regional Studies in 2006.
In the Oral History Collection of the National Library are the original tape recordings of oral history and folklore interviews that Lowenstein conducted in preparing her books of children's rhymes and on the Depression, as well as several interviews of Lowenstein as a subject.
Correspondence of Wendy Lowenstein can be found in the Manuscripts Collection at the National Library in the papers of Shirley Andrews (MS 6000), Pauline Armstrong (MS 9878), Bill Wannan (MS 9924), Harry Hastings Pearce (MS 2765), Alan Marshall (MS 3992/2741) and Dal Stivens (MS 4713).
The Library also holds all Lowenstein's published works except Gondwana to gold.
Further papers of Wendy Lowenstein are held at Monash University's Institute for Regional Studies, see IRS Archive link.
The original order of parts of the collection has been maintained, including: Series 1, correspondence, Series 11, Shirley Andrews papers and Series 12, posters, all of which were received from Monash University; Series 2, a run of manila files with hand-written titles in alphabetical order and containing correspondence, folklore and oral history material and papers relating to Lowenstein's publications; and Files 1-41 in Series 3 consisting of an alphabetic run of files arranged by interviewee name and containing transcripts of interviews and correspondence with interviewees and associated with Lowenstein's Weevils in the flour.
The remainder of the material has been arranged by the Library into series whilst maintaining the internal order of papers within the files and files in which Lowenstein or Monash University stored them. The few papers which were not inside files when received have been rehoused and placed into relevant series by the Library.
Katharin Wendy (Robertson) Lowenstein was born on June 25, 1927. At sixteen Lowenstein joined her brother and sister in Melbourne's New Theatre and the Eureka Youth League where she discovered radical writings, theatre, art and politics. After leaving Box Hill Grammar, she worked briefly as an editor for the Eureka Youth League magazine Youth Voice then as a journalist with the Radio Times before marrying Werner Lowenstein in 1947. Influenced by the largely left wing revival of folk culture in England and the United States Lowenstein co-founded the Victorian Folk Lore Society in 1952 with Professor Ian Turner. For fifteen years she edited their magazine Gumsucker's Gazette, later renamed Australian Tradition. The folk movement provided an avenue to continue her involvement in left wing activism as she had discontinued her membership of the Communist Party by 1960. While working as a school librarian Lowenstein completed an arts degree at the University of Melbourne, with graduate studies in teaching and librarianship.
In 1969, Lowenstein and her family spent a year travelling throughout Australia during which time she recorded folklore and tales of working life, turning this material by 1978 into Weevils in the Flour, the groundbreaking oral history about the Depression. Her first published book was the compilation of children's playground rhymes in Shocking, Shocking: the improper play rhymes of Australian Children in 1975, followed by The Immigrants, with co-author Morag Loh, a best selling book of interviews with non-English background migrants. In 1980, Lowenstein was a co-author to the revised edition of Cinderella dressed in Yella, first published by Ian Turner and June Factor. It was at this time that Lowenstein decided to become a full-time writer and oral historian and spent the next six years travelling widely interviewing ordinary Australians.
A book, 'Dead men don't dig coal', based on South Gippsland coal miners, was commenced after interviews from Weevils in the flour were used by her filmmaker son, Richard, in 1980-81 in the making of Strikebound, a film about the 1937 miners' strike at Korumburra. The book was never completed despite being listed in the film credits. Difficulties with finding publishers saw her set up Bookworkers Press in 1982 resulting in the publication of Under the Hook : Melbourne waterside workers remember: 1900 - 1980.
Lowenstein recorded interviews with iron ore workers in the Pilbara mining region of Western Australia c. 1986-1987 but a period of bitter industrial troubles cancelled that projected book. She later used some of this material in her 1996 publication about unemployment, Weevils at Work : what's happening to work in Australia - an oral record. From 1996 to 1998 Lowenstein produced a collection of children's' rhymes, Never let your dingle dangle: songs my mother never sang me and collaborated with Kathleen Dunlop Kane and Marjorie de Saint-Ferjeux on an RMIT internet database, Gondwana to Gold : a chronological history of Australia. The Patrick's Stevedoring Dispute in 1998 saw a self-published, revised edition of Under the Hook. Her last book, written in 1999 was Self-Publishing without pain. Over a period of 40 years Lowenstein wrote articles for journals, magazines and newspapers, conducted workshops, was writer-in-residence for at least two tertiary institutions and was guest speaker at numerous literary events.
Lowenstein continued to be a committed member of the social activist organizations, People for Nuclear Disarmament and Arts Action for Peace, and supported other causes associated with labour, peace, the ecology and civil liberties up until 2003, when illness prevented further involvement.
Wendy Lowenstein died in Melbourne on 16 October 2006, survived by husband, Werner, and their three children, Peter, Martie and Richard.
Rapley, Monica (2006). 'Wendy Lowenstein papers : biographical notes'.
This series consists of files of Lowenstein's personal correspondence and was received from Monash University in 2006. See also Files 8-16 in Series 2 for correspondence files that were received directly from Lowenstein. Correspondence also appears throughout the collection.
Correspondents include Russel Ward, Robert Michell and Ron Edwards.
Correspondents include Alan Marshall, Warren Fahey, Peter Cochrane, Meg Foster, A.L. (Bert) Lloyd and Connie Healey. Also includes a letter from Helen Palmer and one from Peggy Seeger and Ewan McColl.
Correspondents include Dorothy Hewitt, Eddie Harmer, Don Henderson, Manning Clark, Warren Fahey, Bill Scott, Dorothy Howard and Mick Healey.
Correspondents include Russel Ward, Geoffrey Dutton, Len Fox and Ron Edwards.
Correspondents include Geoffrey Dutton, Hugh Anderson and George Dreyfus. Also includes a letter from Don Henderson describing John Manifold's funeral.
Correspondence relating to Lowenstein's position as a research assistant to Peter Moss at the University of Adelaide.
Includes letters from Clem Christesen, Stuart Macintyre, Drew Cottle and Vic Bird, and a letter from Shirley Andrews addressed to the Age and attaching a short travel article.
Includes a postcard from Richard Lowenstein from Canada describing a film screening (film not named but possibly He died with a falafel in his hand).
Correspondents include Bruce Watson, Keith McKenry and Jacqueline Verlin.
Largely relating to Lowenstein's speaking engagements and Self-publishing without pain.
This series consists of a run of files with hand-written titles arranged alphabetically which were received in a single consignment from Lowenstein. The files contain correspondence, cuttings, contracts, pictorial material, minutes and reports, song lyrics and music relating to Lowenstein's varied interests. Files 30 and 45-46 contain material relating to the Robe River miners dispute (see also Series 5, Files 5-6). In some cases it has been necessary to split file contents into more than one archival file, in which case the files have been numbered accordingly eg Part 1 of 2.
Includes: correspondence relating to a series of radio programs about work; project and funding proposals and submissions; and a shooting outline for a film of Weevils in the flour.
Includes negotiations and contracts for Under the hook and 'What happened when' (later to become Gondwana to gold).
Correspondents include Shirley Andrews, Keith McKenry (sending poems), Ron Edwards, Sue Bunting, Danny Watson (regarding the Numeralla Festival) and Colin McJannett.
Includes hand-written notes of rhymes, some by children, and a draft of the introduction to Cinderella dressed in yella.
Correspondents include John Meredith, Shirley Andrews, Harry Robertson, John Dengate, Ron Edwards and Alan Scott. Also includes a Folklore Society of Victoria (FLSV) member list for 1967-1968, a transcript of an ABC broadcast on Victorian folklore by Mary-Jean Officer in 1963 and correspondence relating to an amalgamation of FLSV and the Victorian Folk Music Club in 1967.
Correspondents include the NSW Folk Federation (Danny Watson?), Jeff Corfield, Russel Ward, Dorothy Howard, Australia Council Literature Board, Judith (Judy) Mackinolty, Alan Marshall, Ron Edwards, Warren Fahey, Brad Tate, Pete Seeger, J.B. Lang, John Meredith, Alan Scott, Harry Robertson, Shirley Andrews, Mary Durack-Miller, Colin Roderick, Geoffrey Dutton and Drew Cottle.
Letters containing Depression anecdotes and correspondence relating to the launch of Weevils in the Flour.
Correspondents include Brad Tate, Frank Huelin, Warren Fahey, Wilbur G. Howcroft, Graham Seal, Alan Scott, Ron Edwards, Don and Sally Henderson, Gwenda Davey, Judith Wright McKinney, Edgar Waters, Chris Sullivan, Dal Stivens, Donald Crick, Drew Cottle, Pete Seeger, Barry McDonald and Bill Tully.
Includes a photocopy of an article by Drew Cottle, 'The rich in the Depression'.
Papers relating to Lowenstein's library studies and employment by the Victorian Department of Education.
Includes correspondence, publications, poems, songs and discography lists. Correspondents include Alan Scott, Bill Scott, Ron Edwards, Barry McDonald and Keith McKenry. Also includes a letter from Ronnie Gilbert of the Weavers about an Australian tour.
Contents of a ring file in alphabetical order by name. Correspondents include John Meredith, Alan and Gay Scott, Peter Hamilton of Wattle Recordings, Simon McDonald, Edgar Waters and Bill Wannan.
Includes song lyrics (some bawdy) and correspondence. Correspondents include Warren Fahey, Danny Watson, John Manifold, Graham Seal, Ron Edwards and Alan Scott.
Includes interview transcripts (touching on the Robe River dispute) and tape summary.
Includes a copy of Ned Kelly : previously unpublished letters and documents (1984?).
Includes publications, publicity material and correspondence, some unrelated to the peace movement.
Photographs mainly of folk musicians, including Danny Spooner, Gordon McIntyre, Shirley Andrews, Pete and Toshi Seeger, Martyn Wyndham-Read, Ron Edwards, Clem Parkinson, Gary Shearston and Alan Marshall.
Correspondence, fliers and printed material relating to Lowenstein's Pilbara oral history project.
Includes copies of 'The Robe River story' by Wendy Wise and the contents of a ring file, including songs, poems and copies of articles and correspondence relating to the 1986 Peko-Wallsend dispute.
Includes a description of the Pilbara workers oral history recording project, transcripts of interviews and copies of company correspondence and 'The Robe River story' by Wendy Wise.
Includes an article written by Lowenstein for Women's Weekly about the tour, letters to Shirley Andrews documenting the trip and letters to suppliers requesting assistance.
Includes lyrics and music to songs, largely hand-written, by Ralph de Boissiere, Harry Robertson, Clem Parkinson and Lyell Sayer.
Includes a cutting about Eviction and a prospectus for Strikebound.
Correspondence relating to writers', oral history and folklore events.
Includes correspondence as well as artwork and fliers relating to the book.
Includes financial papers, script and correspondence documenting Lowenstein's role in the production. See also Series 3, Files 55-56, for further Albert Hunt correspondence.
Includes a draft proposal, screenplay and correspondence relating to the film, as well as a letter from Lowenstein regarding the distribution of box office takings from the Weevils play and a testimonial by Lowenstein for John Meredith.
Includes a proposal and transcripts.
Lowenstein's book about experiences of Australian workers in the 1930s depression was largely based on interviews conducted by Lowenstein between 1973 and 1978. Files 1-41 consist of a run of files of interview transcripts and correspondence arranged by interviewee name (by first name where surname is not given). Not all interviews were included in the book. Where notes relating to more than one person have been filed together the extra names have been added in the relevant file description. In 1987 a Weevils in the flour play based on the book was staged at La Mama Theatre in Melbourne. The script was largely developed by English writer-director, Albert Hunt, with some input by Lowenstein. Files 55-56 contain correspondence and legal documents relating to the play and the Lowenstein-Hunt relationship (see also Series 2, File 56).
Includes Betty, Marjorie, Geoffrey, Kim Keane, Joe Chambers and Jack Debert.
Includes Mrs Edith Taylor, Noel Counihan, Bill Miller, Shirley and Graham Robertson, (Mr?) Hamilton and Nora Farrall (Nora Karaminides).
Under the hook was co-authored with Tom Hills, a Melbourne waterside worker. The book is based on oral history interviews of rank and file wharfies. Under the hook was Lowenstein's first self-publishing endeavour, and the second updated edition in 1998 was also published by Bookworkers Press. See Series 5, File 17 for correspondence relating to the financing of the 1998 update.
Includes notes and lists of photographs.
Publications, artwork, drafts, original ballot papers from the 1954 and 1955 Waterside Workers Federation (WWF) Melbourne Branch elections, pamphlets and cuttings from the 1956 wharf strike and letters from Russel Ward and readers. Includes A century of a union by WWF Sydney Branch (1972).
This series documents some of the writing-related activities in which Lowenstein was involved. File 1 contains transcripts of interviews conducted between 1973-1983 in the South Gippsland coalfields. Whilst some of the interviewees appeared in Weevils in the flour, the material was intended for another book, 'Dead men don't dig coal' which was never published. The project was commenced after Lowenstein's filmmaker son, Richard, used the original Weevils interviews in the making of his film, Strikebound, which was released in 1983. Files 5-6 contain material relating to the Robe River industrial dispute by iron ore workers in the Pilbara 1986-1987 (see also Series 2, Files 30 and 45-46). Items 8-9 consist of a printout of Parts I-VIII of Gondwana to Gold : a chronological history of Australia, an RMIT internet database produced in collaboration with Kathleen Dunlop Kane and Marjorie de Saint-Ferjeux in 1996. Files 9-17 were received from Monash University in 2006.
Lever arch file contents consisting of interview transcripts arranged alphabetically by name.
Box file contents including research material, publications, a chronology, transcripts, film scene list and cuttings.
Includes a newsletter produced during the dispute, 'Resist to exist', a chronology and photocopies of other research material.
Mainly with the Australian Society of Authors and Copyright Agency Ltd.
Includes correspondence, seminar application forms and excerpts from the book.
In 1955, Lowenstein co-founded the Folk Lore Society of Victoria with Ian Turner. This series contains correspondence, the Society's constitution, minutes, annual reports and financial statements, notices of meetings, membership forms and Singabout programs. Correspondents are only listed in file descriptions where a substantial amount of correspondence to/from that person is present.
Correspondents include Edgar Waters, Peter Hamilton of Wattle Recordings, Shirley Andrews, John Manifold and Bill Wannan.
Includes correspondence from Camilla Raab and to Peter Hamilton of Wattle Recordings, as well as a discussion note about Mary-Jean Officer's reasons for resigning from FLSV.
Includes a handwritten paper by Harry Pearce on 'The functions of FLSV'.
Includes minutes of AGMs and committee meetings, financial reports for 1959-1968, miscellaneous correspondence, 1969, and a report on Australian Tradition, 1972.
Includes a hand-written report to the AGM by Lowenstein, 1964.
Lowenstein contributed to and edited the Folk Lore Society of Victoria's magazine Gumsucker's Gazette, later Australian Tradition, for fifteen years. This series includes correspondence, festival programs, song lyrics, sheet music, poems, posters and fliers, and research material and lists relating to a discography of Australian folk songs project. Some of the material was clearly created, collected and/or used by Lowenstein in her role as magazine editor whilst the remainder may have been used for this purpose, although this is not evident from the papers themselves.
Includes correspondence between Lowenstein and Shirley Andrews.
Includes a copy of 'Folklore and the Communist Party', author unknown.
Includes photographs of Glen Tomasetti, Graeme Squance, Phyl Lobl, Bernard Bolan, Gary Shearston, Don Henderson, Pete Seeger, Martyn Wyndham-Read, Brian Mooney, Ron Edwards, Margaret Roadknight, Declan Affley and Gordon McIntyre.
Includes photographs or negatives of Danny Spooner, Con Klippel, Harry Robertson, John Meredith, Phyl Lobl and Pete Seeger.
Includes Wattle Recordings songsheets.
Includes printed music and song lyrics, cuttings, correspondence, folk festival material, newsletters, and a copy of an article by Ron Edwards, 'Beginning with bandicoots'.
Includes programs for the 1953 First Australian Folk Festival and for the Australian tours of Peggy Seeger and Ewan McColl, Pete Seeger and Paul Robeson (1960).
Correspondents include Pete Seeger, Ron Edwards and US folklorists and folklore organisations.
Includes a four-part arrangement of Weevils in the flour by Ricardo Andino and poems by Keith McKenry.
Includes articles by John Manifold, Ron Edwards, John Meredith and Margaret Walker.
Bandicoot ballads and Checklist of Australian folk song tunes, some copies signed and hand-painted.
Includes research notes, correspondence and a contract with Peter Mann Recordings.
Speewa, vols 1-4, 1954-1955 and Folk Song and Dance Society of Victoria Newslwetter, vol 2-2, 1974.
Discography ('The first thirty years : a discography of the Australian folk song revival'), 1957, c. 1979-1991 (File 30)
Material compiled by Lowenstein with the intention of publishing a discography: publications, lists of Australian music recordings by artist name, notes and correspondence, mainly between Lowenstein and Elma Gardner, with whom Lowenstein worked on the project. Includes a booklet produced to accompany a cassette, Portrait of an Australian by Bob Molloy and Mike Thomas (1979).
Lowenstein was committed to the peace movement and an active member of Arts Action for Peace (AAP). This series consists of AAP leaflets, posters, name lists, correspondence and papers relating to an International Year of Peace conference and festival 1986.
Includes a short letter from Judith Wright about distributing leaflets, 1982.
Includes well-known artists, writers, politicians and musicians such as Patrick White, Rosemary Dobson, Clifton Pugh, George Dreyfus, Eric Bogle, H.C. Coombs, Robin Wallace-Crabbe, Bill Wannan, Manning Clark, Phillip Adams, Judith Wright, Jim Cairns and Alan Marshall.
Includes IYP Peace Arts Conference and Festival financial records 1986, papers relating to a Bob Bossin concert 1989, and Friends of the Earth newsletters.
Lowenstein was an active member of People for Nuclear Disarmament (PND). This series includes correspondence, PND (Vic) and Prahran Branch newsletters, fliers, financial papers, minutes and membership lists.
Lowenstein supported a range of causes associated with labour, peace, the ecology and civil liberties up until 2003, when illness prevented further involvement. This series contains fliers, posters, newsletters and badges relating to Lowenstein's interests and activism in these fields, including a small amount of material associated with Arts Action for Peace and People for Nuclear Disarmament.
Miscellaneous peace, environment, employment, poverty and democratic reform material, 1983-1993 (File 1)
Includes Arts Action for Peace anti-nuclear declarations, fliers, posters and publications.
Includes local Victorian PND newsletters.
Lowenstein was Shirley Andrews's executor after Andrews' death in 2001. The papers in this series were retained by Lowenstein after lodging the bulk of Andrews' papers at the National Library in 2002. They include death notices, biographical material, obituaries, letters relating to an event celebrating Andrews' life, travel documents, photographs, correspondence and publications. The correspondence includes a postcard from her father dated 1918, letters to Andrews whilst she was attending a World Festival of Youth and Students in Berlin in 1951, a letter from Andrews dated 1999 about an ASIO file and her experiences as a Communist in the 1950s, and correspondence and research material relating to an idea for a ballet based on a Henry Lawson poem, 'Mabel Clare'. This material was received from Monash University.
A selection of posters and placards reflecting Lowenstein's involvement with social activist organizations in particular People for Disarmament and Arts Action for Peace and other causes in support of labour, peace, the ecology and civil liberties. Some were made and printed by Lowenstein.
3 elephant folios and 1 folio
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