Guide to the Papers of Ralph and Dorothy Gibson


MS 7844

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: November 1989

Collection Summary

Ralph and Dorothy Gibson
Papers of Ralph and Dorothy Gibson
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 7844
1.65 metres (7 ms boxes + 1 phase box)
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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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 Ralph and Dorothy Gibson, National Library of Australia, MS 7844, [box number and series and/or file number]'.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These papers were acquired by the National Library between 1983 and 1989.

There are also Ralph Gibson papers held by the University of Melbourne Archives.

Biographical Note

Dorothy Gibson (nee Alexander) was born in 1899, the daughter of a businessman. She graduated from the University of Melbourne and spent time teaching in Cambridge and Moscow. On her return to Australia in the 1930s she joined the Communist Party of Australia and married Ralph Gibson.

Ralph Gibson (1906-1989) was born in England, and was the son of a Professor of Philosophy who later taught at Melbourne University. In 1932 Ralph gave up his academic career to work full time for the Communist Party.

After their marriage Ralph and Dorothy devoted the rest of their lives to the CPA, remaining loyal to it through all its splits and upheavals. They were also active in the peace movement through all this time. Ralph wrote a number of books and pamphlets on communism and the couple visited the Soviet Union on a number of occasions. In the 1940s Dorothy organised the Australia-Soviet Friendship League. After Dorothy's death in 1978 Ralph wrote One woman's life: a memoir of Dorothy Gibson, published in 1980.

Item Descriptions

Series 1. Personal papers of R. Gibson

Early papers, 1927-1943 (File 1) - Box 1

Letters of Gibson (Manchester, Geneva, Devonport) to his mother, describing voyage to England, research at Manchester University, career ambitions, British politics, course at Geneva in 1930, lecturing in Tasmania, Australian politics (c. 60 letters), 1927-1931 (File 1) - Box 1

Letters of Gibson (Sydney, Mackay, Cairns, Melbourne) to Dorothy Gibson, referring to party meetings. (14 letters), 1936-1939 (File 1) - Box 1

Letter of Gibson (Pentridge Gaol) to Colin, 4 July 1933 (File 1) - Box 1

Leaflets and cuttings on Gibsons's lectures in Tasmania, 1931 (File 1) - Box 1

How to vote card, 1943 (File 1) - Box 1

Peace Movement in 1930s (File 2) - Box 1

Including: Pamphlets, cuttings, articles on E. Kisch, program of 1936 Brussels Congress of International Peace Plan, notes for speakers at Congress, photographs.

Australian-Soviet Friendship League, 1942-1946 (File 3) - Box 1

Including: Pamphlets, leaflets, circulars, lists of office-bearers, constitution, cuttings, minutes of special meeting (12 November 1945), correspondence, notes.

Australia Soviet House, 1946 (File 4) - Box 1

Including: Programs, circulars, minutes, lists of speakers.

Papers on overseas trips, 1936-1967 (File 5) - Box 1

Including: Notes by Gibson of visit to Brussels Peace Congress (1936), Europe and Russia (1953), China and Russia (1960), India (1964), Russia and India (1967).

Papers on party splits, 1956-1972 (File 6) - Box 1

Including: Draft articles by Gibson, correspondence with E. Ross and W. Brown.

Speeches (File 7-8) - Box 2

Including: Manuscripts of speeches by Gibson, 1960s-1980s, on Soviet policy, policies of Communist Party of Australia, Labor Party and United Front, Czechoslovakia, Vietnam War, Bangladesh and other subjects.

Struggle of ideas in the 1960s. (File 9-10) - Box 2

Including: Slips containing cuttings or notes for a projected work on struggle of ideas in the 1960s. Headings include Brown-Aarons struggle, Czechoslovakia debate, French communist policy, Sartre, Frankfurt School, Yugoslav line, Vietnam Moratorium, trade unions, student movement, international differences.

Gibsons's Books. (File 11-13) - Box 2

Including: Reviews and correspondence on My years in the Communist Party (1966), Soviet foreign policy 1917-1974 (1976), One woman's life; a memoir of Dorothy Gibson (1980) and The people stand up (1984). Correspondents include W. Gollan, W. Brown, L. Aarons, L. Churchward, W. Stone, Myra Roper, H. Anderson, Marjorie Pizer, J. Blake, L. Fox, R. Lockwood, A. Marshall, S. Murray-Smith.

Obituaries (File 14) - Box 3

Including: Cuttings of obituaries of many figures of the Left, including P. Clancy, W. McMahon Ball, N. Counihan, J. Waten, Helen Palmer, L. Sharkey, E. Elliot, Jessie Street, R. Mortimer, P. Troy. Also few replies to letters of condolence and manuscript of oration at funeral of Sally Barker.

Typescript account of trip to Europe and India, 1978 (File 15) - Box 3

Clippings and ephemera on the peace movement, 1980s (File 16) - Box 3

"A Marxist looks at history", typescript, [1988-1989] (File 17) - Box 3

Memoirs, 1978, typescript; Left Book Project, 1988; Diary, 1989 (File 18) - Box 3

Oakleigh Branch of the Communist Party of Australia, notes, clippings and reports, 1957-1988 (File 19) - Box 3

Oakleigh Branch of the CPA, peace and friendship papers, 1958-1978 (File 20) - Box 3

Series 2. Papers of Dorothy Gibson

Autobiographical (File 21) - Box 4

Including: Autobiographical manuscripts, certificate of registration as teacher (1924), St. Andrew's Collegian (1927), photographs of Inverness, testimonials (1930-1932), proposal for activity school (c. 1932), D. Gibson. How I came to work for peace (1973).

Papers on Soviet education, 1933-1935 (File 22) - Box 4

Including: Letters of Dorothy Alexander to her family describing conditions in Russia (11 letters), cuttings.

Malvern branch, Communist Party of Australia. Leaflets, 1946-1952 (File 23) - Box 4

Earlier campaigns, 1946-1976 (File 24) - Box 4

Including: Letters, cuttings, photographs on peace campaigns.

Visit to Europe and Soviet Union, 1953-1954 (File 25) - Box 4

Including: Detailed diaries, notebooks, copy of letter to friends in Melbourne.

Notes of meetings and conferences (File 26) - Box 4

Including: Note of National Congress of C.P.A., Australian Assembly for Peace and other bodies, mainly 1960s.

Political writings and talks (File 27-28) - Box 5

Including: Manuscripts and cuttings on philosophy, Vietnam, Soviet Union, civil liberties, South Africa, and other subjects, mostly 1960s and 1970s.

Letters of Ralph Gibson, 1960 (File 29) - Box 5

Including: Letters of R. Gibson to Dorothy Gibson (May-December. 1960) from China and Russia (24 letters).

World Peace Congress, Moscow, 1962 (File 30) - Box 5

Including: Notes, programs, cuttings

Visits to Soviet Union, 1967, 1971 (File 31-32) - Box 5

Including: Detailed diaries, notebooks, talks.

C.I.C.D. Tribute to Dorothy Gibson, 9 December, 1973 (File 32) - Box 5

Including: Letters, telegrams, photograph.

Miscellaneous notes and papers, including typescript and photographs on the plight of Polish children (1949?) by Maria Zebrowska (File 33) - Box 5

Series 3. Photographs

Various photographs (File 34-35) - Box 6

Four albums of photographs and postcards covering such things as overseas trips and book launches, 1928-1987 (Item 1-4) - Box 6

Album of photographs including family photos; USSR, 1953-1971; peace movement, 1937-1970; India, 1964; and Oakleigh home, 1980s, 1930s-1980s (Item 5) - Folio 1

Series 4. Correspondence

Personal correspondence of Dorothy Gibson, 1929-1970 (File 36) - Box 7

Approx. 80 letters. Mostly 1960s and 1970s. Correspondents include A. Marshall, S. Murray-Smith and Aileen Palmer.

Cards received by Dorothy Gibson, 1937-1976 (File 37) - Box 7

Letters of condolence and tribute for Dorothy Gibson, 1978 (File 38) - Box 7

Cards and letters received by Ralph and Dorothy Gibson, 1943-1988 (File 39) - Box 7

Cards received by Ralph Gibson, 1988-1989 (File 40) - Box 7