Guide to the Papers of John Meredith


MS 1007

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

Meredith, John Stanley Raymond
Papers of John Meredith
Date Range
1948 - 2001
Collection Number
MS 1007
4.7 metres (31 ms boxes + 1 packet + 10 sound/av carriers)
Language of Materials
Special Collections (Manuscripts)


Scope and Contents

The collection comprises papers relating to Meredith's long career in the folk music industry. There is correspondence; research material from field trips and for his books; transcriptions of songs; drafts of his writings, including those for several of his books; musical scores; scrapbooks; diaries and photographs. Correspondents include Hugh Anderson, Gwenda Davey, Charles Edward, Ron Edwards, Martin Fitzgerald, Mary Gilmore, Alfred Hill, Catherine Jeffries, John Low, Vance Palmer, Pamela Rosenberg, Yvonne White, Stephan Williams and Chris ("Woody") Woodland.

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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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 John Meredith, National Library of Australia, MS 1007, [box number and series and/or file number]'.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were acquired from John Meredith in a number of instalments dating from 1964 to 1999. Following his death in 2001, further papers were received from Gay Scott in 2003.

The Oral History Collection features a large number of recordings relating to Meredith. A CD-ROM of field recordings of folk musicians from 1985 (Artists include John Meredith, John McKinnon, Alan Scot, Tim Whelan and Lyndon Badcoe) was transferred to the Oral History collection from MS 1007.

The Pictures Collection features a large number of photographs relating to folk music, which were taken by Meredith. Material transferred to the Pictures Collection includes musical instruments (A button accordion, An ocarina); Photographs (Large mounted black and white photographs of various folk musicians; a box of mainly 20 x 25cm black and white photographs of folk musicians) and Miscellaneous (The Australia Folk Trust Award, presented to Meredith in 1993).

Also see: MS 10219 Papers of John Stanley Raymond Meredith, 1993.


Meredith's published works include: • Songs from Lawson, Sydney, Alan Scott, 1956 (edited by Meredith) • The wild colonial boy: the life and times of Jack Donahoe 1808(?)-1830, Sydney, Wentworth Press, 1960 • Folk songs of Australia and the men and women who sang them, Sydney, Ure Smith, 1967 (co-authored with Hugh Anderson) • Frank, the poet: the life and works of Francis MacNamara, Melbourne, Red Rooster, 1979 (co-authored with Rex Whalan) • Ned Kelly after a century of acrimony, Sydney, Lansdowne Press, 1980 (co-authored with Bill Scott) • The coo-ee march, Gilgandra-Sydney 1915, Dubbo, Macquarie Publications, 1981 • Duke of the Outback: the adventures of "a shearer named Tritton", Melbourne, Red Rooster Press, 1983 • Learn to talk old Jack Lang: a handbook of Australian rhyming slang, Kenthurst, Kangaroo Press, 1984 (drawings by George Sprod) • The householders' compendium, Shepparton, Night Owl, 1986 • King of the dance hall: the story of fifty years of ballroom music with Frank Bourke and the White Rose Orchestra, Kenthurst, Kangaroo Press, 1986 • Gallant Peter Clark, Woden, Popinjay, 1988 • The last kooradgie: Moyengully, chief man of the Gundungurra people, Kenthurst, Kangaroo Press, 1989 • Dinkum Aussie slang, Kenthurst, Kangaroo Press, 1991 (drawings by George Sprod) • Real folk, Canberra, National Library of Australia, 1995 • Breaker's mate: Will Ogilivie in Australia, Kenthurst, Kangaroo Press, 1996 (compiled and edited by Meredith)

Biographical Note

Folk musician and folklorist John Stanley Raymond Meredith was born at Holbrook, New South Wales, on 17 January 1920. A self-taught musician, Meredith formed the original Bushwhackers band in 1952 and was a founding member of the Bush Music Club (1954) and early editor of its magazine Singabout. In 1954, he also became secretary of the new Australian Folklore Society. Meredith spent many years collecting and recording hundreds of traditional Australian folk-songs and bush-dance music. In 1960, with the aid of a government fellowship and together with Hugh Anderson, he collected material for Folksongs of Australia, Vol. 1, which was published in 1967. A second volume was published in 1987. Meredith went on to publish a number of books relating to the Australian folk music scene and to write many of his own songs, including two ballad operas The wild colonial boy and How many miles from Gundagai?

Meredith's contribution to Australian Music was recognised when he was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia in 1988, appointed a Member in the Order of Australia in 1992 and awarded an Australian Folk Trust Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995. John Meredith died in Albury, New South Wales, on 16 February 2001.

Item Descriptions

Class. Original Consignment

Notes on field recordings of Australian folk songs and music made by John Meredith, 1953-56 (File 1) - Box 1

National Library of Australia receipt for collection of recordings. (File 1) - Box 1

Folk song transcripts (the Meredith Collection), pp. 1-162 (File 2) - Box 1

Class. Consignment added 8 March 1985

Letters received by John Meredith ,1955-1956, 1981-1985 (including Hugh Anderson, Mary Gilmore, Alfred Hill and Vance Palmer) (File 1) - Box 2

Letters received, 1983-1985 (File 2) - Box 2

Correspondence, 1982-1984 (File 3) - Box 2

Class. Consignment added 27 February 1986

Letters received, 1984-1986 (File 1) - Box 2

Class. Consignment added 25 May 1989

Letters received, 1986-1988; letters from John Meredith to Russell Ward, 1954-1955; folk song background notes and transcript; miscellaneous cuttings (File 1) - Box 2

Letters received, 1984-1988 (File 2) - Box 2

Letters received, 1985-1988 (File 3) - Box 2

Original music copies, bibliography and other notes for Duke Tritton manuscript (File 4) - Box 2

Correspondence concerning Duke of the Outback, 1979-1982 (File 5) - Box 3

Duke of the Outback, drafts (deleted items); Duke of the Outback, John Meredith, draft (photocopy duplicate); Duke of the Outback revised and condensed version, 1983 (duplicate); 'Send round the hat; Duke Tritton - by his mates', collected and edited by John Meredith (File 6) - Box 3

Class. Consignment added 3 August 1989

Letters received by John Meredith, 1985-1987 (including congratulations on appointment as OAM.) (File 1) - Box 4

Correspondence, 1988-1989 (File 2) - Box 4

Class. Consignment added 9 May 1991

Series. Correspondence, 1970-1980

Correspondents include Hugh Anderson, Gwenda Davey, Charles Edward, Martin Fitzgerald, John Low, Stephan Williams, Pamela Rosenberg, Yvonne White (publisher OUP)

Correspondence, 1970-1983 (File 1) - Box 4
Correspondence, Feb-Dec 1989 (File 2) - Box 4
Correspondence, 1990-1991 (File 3) - Box 4

Series. Typescripts and manuscripts

Papers relating to Meredith's writing, including photocopies, cuttings and correspondence.

'More than a life (and that's only the half of it!); an autobiography': in four parts (File) - Box 4
Correspondence, 1984-1988 (including Memorandum of Agreement with publisher); notes (including correspondence 1982, 1988); notes (returns of Aborigines and letter 1986); 'Moyengully and the Gundungurra people': paper read at The Oaks Historical Society, 1984; photographs, Meredith's autobiography: 'More than a life (and that's only the half of it!); an autobiography' (File) - Box 5
The last kooradgie : Moyengully, chief man of the Gundungurra people: final draft (duplicate), plus indexing copy from publisher (File) - Box 5
'Oedipus rocks; a ballad opera': draft and notes (including correspondence 1981-1982) (File) - Box 6
King of the dance hall: the story of fifty years of ballroom music with Frank Bourke and the White Rose Orchestra: final draft (duplicate); Notes (including correspondence 1985); photographs and negatives (File) - Box 6
'The pure merino fandango; a burlesque of old Botany Bay': revision 1984 plus draft (File) - Box 6
Notes (including corresponding 1986-1987) (File) - Box 6
Gallant Peter Clark: proof and draft 'Data' - notes (including correspondence 1983-1988), cuttings, 'The ballad of Peter Clark'; new introduction for special reprint, notes (including correspondence 1986-1988); additional notes for second edition; 'illustrations' - photographs and photocopies (File) - Box 7
'The Australian adventures of John Bairstow', edited by Meredith - photocopy duplicate Notes (including correspondence 1984) (File) - Box 8
How many miles from Gundagai?: a bush-ballad opera (File) - Box 8
The coo-ee march, Gilgandra-Sydney 1915: notes Learn to talk old Jack Lang: a handbook of Australian rhyming slang, notes to second edition, Dinkum Aussie slang and letter 1990 (File) - Box 8
'Authentic Australian bawdy ballads etc', collected and edited by Meredith (unpublished) (File) - Box 8
Folk songs of Australia and the men and women who sang them, Roger Covell and Patricia Brown, volume two (File) - Box 9
The wild colonial boy; an Irish-Australian ballad opera of the convict days, Joan Clarke and John Meredith: original version (1955) and revisions Notes (including correspondence 1965, 1981-1983); bibliography; photographs of Donahoe country 'Here's luck', an Australian ballad opera, John Meredith and John Dengate - draft (and telegram 1969) (File) - Box 10

Series. Miscellaneous papers

'A rose of no-man's land': bibliography and notes (File) - Box 10
'Sundry articles': mainly duplicates (File) - Box 10
Notebook typescript, handwritten and printed articles from papers of Brian Loughlin (foundation member of The Bushwhackers band), c. 1950s (File) - Box 11
Tune books and transcription of tunes recorded by Ted Valance for John Meredith Scrapbook of press cuttings, 1952-1956 (File) - Box 11
Scrapbook of press cuttings, 1956-1981 (File) - Box 12
Scrapbook of press cuttings, 1979-1983 (File) - Box 12
Scrapbook of press cuttings, 1984-1990 (File) - Box 12

Class. Consignment added October 1992

This consignment comprises seven volumes of field notes compiled by John Meredith during the 1950s containing the words and sometimes the scores of hundreds of folk songs. The volumes are interleaved with additional comments prepared by W.N. Scott in 1992. One of the volumes is an anthology of Ned Kelly songs and tales.

Field notes (File) - Box 13-14

Class. Consignment added 22 January 1997

This consignment comprises letters received by John Meredith relating to folklore, 1990-1994

Letters, 1994 (File 1) - Box 15

Letters, 1993 (File 2) - Box 15

Letters, 1992 (File 3) - Box 15

Letters, 1992 (File 4) - Box 15

Letters, 1991 (File 5) - Box 15

Letters, 1990 and undated (File 6) - Box 15

Class. Consignment added 18 May 1998

Additional material on John Stanley concertinas added to Box 14 (File) - Box 14

Letters, newspaper cuttings, post cards, programs relating to folklore, 1982-1997 (File 1) - Box 16

Articles, papers about folklore, bush music -includes John Meredith bibliography (File 2_4) - Box 16

Class. Consignment added 16 April 1999

Correspondence (1978-1999) and typescript of a talk by Meredith 'The night the Japs came over', for Writers at the Imperial, 1998; correspondents include Ron Edwards, Stephan Williams and Chris ("Woody") Woodland (File) - Box 16

Class. Consignment added 9 January 2003

Typescript of How many miles from Gundagai?, a bush operetta in one act, written by Meredith, nd. (File) - Box 16

Class. Consignment added 1 September 2003

Personal and work references for Meredith, 1946-1978 (File 1) - Box 17

Correspondence, mostly personal, 1979-2001 (File 2_4) - Box 17

Correspondence with the National Library of Australia, 1985-1992 (File 5) - Box 17

Correspondence and reviews re Real folk, published by the National Library of Australia in 1995 (File 6) - Box 17

Correspondence between Gay Scott and Lyndon Badcoe following Meredith's death, 2001 (File 7) - Box 17

Greeting cards received by Meredith, 1999-2000 (File 8_9) - Box 18

Contracts with publishers, 1979-1996 (File 10) - Box 18

Financial papers: account book (1997-2000) and receipts, (1998-2001) (File 11_12) - Box 18

Eight address books (File 13) - Box 18

Diary-style journal, 1 Jan 2000 - 17 Jan 2001 (File 14) - Box 19

Appointment diary, 1999-2000 (File 14) - Box 19

Journal entitled 'Australianities: in the vernacular et cet plus journal at Tarana from 14.10.99' (File 14) - Box 19

Notebooks entitled: 'Letters 1.7.97'; 'Busking tunes'; 'Tune book'; 'Rhyming slang - flash to straight for 3rd ed.' and 'Writers at the Liberty' (File 14) - Box 19

Folders entitled 'Sundry traditional texts' containing mostly lyrics and music to songs (File 15_16) - Box 19

Folk lore: drafts and notes (File 17) - Box 19

Typescripts and notes for 'Folk songs of Australia, volume III' (File 18_21) - Box 20

Typescript, photographs and papers for family history 'The brothers Meredith', c 2000 (File 22) - Box 20

Corrections relating to The householders' compendium, published by Night Owl, 1986 (File 23) - Box 20

Research material for Breaker's mate: Will Ogilvie in Australia, published, 1996 (File 24) - Box 20

Research material for Breaker's mate: Will Ogilvie in Australia (File 25_28) - Box 20

Photographs for the book, the text of Meredith's launch speech, reviews and correspondence with publishers Kangaroo Press and Simon Schuster (1995-2000) relating to Breaker's mate: Will Ogilvie in Australia (File 29_31) - Box 21

Photocopy of Will Ogilvie's book The honour of the station, nd (File 32) - Box 21

Research material relating to a second book about Ogilivie by Meredith entitled 'Will Ogilivie - the Scottish jackaroo' (File 33) - Box 21

Research material, correspondence (1995-2000) and photographs relating to 'Will Ogilivie - the Scottish jackaroo'; correspondents include Rosenberg Press, University of Queensland Press and Catherine Jeffries (great-granddaughter of Will Ogilivie) (File 34_37) - Box 22

Typescripts of 'Will Ogilivie - the Scottish jackaroo' (File 38_46) - Box 24

Notes and correspondence with publishers Rosenberg Publishing (2000) relating to a work by Meredith entitled 'The valley of the shadow' (File 47) - Box 25

Typescripts of 'The valley of the shadow' (File 48_51) - Box 25

Miscellaneous copies of short stories, poems and songs, some of which were written by Meredith (File 52) - Box 25

Miscellaneous copies of short stories, poems and songs, some of which were written by Meredith (File 53_54) - Box 26

Script of 'The invis-ible dog' (File 55) - Box 26

Photocopy of a letter written by Maud Bowyer-Smyth, 1905

Proof copy of The true story of Jimmy Governor by Laurie Moore and Stephen Williams, published by Allen Unwin in 2001 (File 56) - Box 26

Photograph albums, 1948-1951 (File 57) - Box 26

Photograph album 'Back of Bourke with Merro', 1958 (File 58) - Box 27

Photograph album 'Sundry performers for Real folk', 1980 (File 59) - Box 27

Photograph albums, 1986-1989 (File 60_61) - Box 27

Photograph albums, 1989-1993 (File 62_64) - Box 28

Photograph album of a trip to Cooper's Creek, 1993 (File 65) - Box 29

Photograph album of a trip to Numbardie, 1993 (File 66) - Box 29

Photograph album of a trip to Lake Mungo National Park and to Bourke, 1993-1994 (File 67) - Box 29

Photograph album, 1999-2000 (File 68) - Box 30

Miscellaneous loose photographs (File 69) - Box 30

Miscellaneous negatives arranged alphabetically by title of subject (File 70) - Box 30

AM and OAM medals and six RAOB (Royal Antidiluvian Order of Buffaloes) badges (File 71) - Box 30

Packet with certificates for various awards and honours bestowed upon Meredith (File) - Folio-Box (Shared)

Audio Cassettes (File)

The Australian city (Item NLA.MS-SAV016698) - Cassette-Box 786
1 Item, Philips CD90, Compact cassette tape

A: the Bush balladistsMore info in case.B: Will Ogilvie reads his own poetry

Leo and Orley Benson, 1/02/1983 (Item NLA.MS-SAV016699) - Cassette-Box 786
1 Item, TDK D-C90, Compact cassette tape

Violin and accordian

Mudgee bush craft and music festival (Item NLA.MS-SAV016700) - Cassette-Box 786
1 Item, audiosonic C60, Compact cassette tape
Sleeping Beauty by Williskovsky (Item NLA.MS-SAV016701) - Cassette-Box 786
1 Item, Sony HF 46, Compact cassette tape

More information in case

Sr Mary Philippine (Item NLA.MS-SAV016702) - Cassette-Box 786
1 Item, Fuji DR-II 60, Compact cassette tape

re Steve williams and Jack Bradshow reminiscences. Side B blank. Rob and Olya Willis card included

Mim min light ex Fred Silcock (Item NLA.MS-SAV016703) - Cassette-Box 786
1 Item, Maxell S-LN 60, Compact cassette tape

Mrs E.A. Carr, 107 Wlsh St. Mareeba, Q.Della

Pure merino fandango. Felix Meagher, 7/03/1987 (Item NLA.MS-SAV016704) - Cassette-Box 786
1 Item, BASF CR-M II 90, Compact cassette tape

world premier. Pt Fairy Opera house

A: Al knight and J. McKinnonB: Merv Murnana piano (Item NLA.MS-SAV016705) - Cassette-Box 786
1 Item, TDK AD 46, Compact cassette tape

More information on case

A: Lennie Cook. Bill Rutter.B: Bill Rutter contd., 3 an 4 Dec, 1990 (Item NLA.MS-SAV016706) - Cassette-Box 786
1 Item, Sony HF 60, Compact cassette tape
A: Harry Cotter (b. 1899). B: Harry Cotter and completed by Turlough O'Carolan (Item NLA.MS-SAV016707) - Cassette-Box 786
1 Item, TDK AD60, Compact cassette tape

Program on case.NOTE TO ME; SEPT 2003 Acc

Class. Consignment added 18 March 2004

Obituaries (File 72) - Box 30

Class. Consignment added 14 July 2004

Photocopied letters (1995-2000) from Meredith to Catherine Jeffries, daughter of the Scottish-born poet Will Ogilvie, concerning her father and other matters (File 73) - Box 30