National Library of Australia
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The collection comprises papers, reports, publications, photographs and correspondence which document aspects of Overall's outstanding career as an architect and urban planner. Of particular interest are the items which record his significant role as the National Capital Development Commissioner, together with his long association with planning for New Parliament House, including chairmanship of the New Parliament House Design Competition. Also incuded Included are plaques and several medals, for town planning, architecture as well as Overall's KB and OBE.
Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (http://nla.gov.au/nla.cat-vn1109579).
Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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 Sir John Overall, National Library of Australia, MS 4874 [class/series/file number]'.
The MS 4874 consignments were donated in three instalments: the main instalment by Overall in 1975, and two smaller additions by Tim his son, in 2001 and his daughter-in-law, Diane in 2017.
Further correspondence by Overall is located among the Records Relating to the Grenfell Ruddock Memorial (MS 4588). Texts of a speech given by Overall at the opening of St John's Schoolhouse Museum, Canberra in 1969 are held at MS 2662 and MS 4577. An interview recorded by Mel Pratt with Overall in 1973 is in the Oral History Collection at ORAL TRC 121/45. Other papers relating to Overall's official duties in the Commonwealth Works Department, the National Capital Development Commission and Cities Commission will be found in the collections of the National Archives of Australia.
The MS 4874 consignments were arranged in the six series groupings by National Library staff in 2002. For the most part, within each series the material has been retained in the order in which it was transferred to the Library.There are a further 2 Series headings for the 2017 consignment (Boxes 9-10).The Folio box and Elephant Folio from the original consignemnt were originally numbered Folio Box 1 and Map folio 2.With the integration of the 2017 consignment these containers have been renumbered to reflect integration. Folio Box 1 is now Folio Box 7 and Elephant Folio 2 is now Map folio 8
This consignment comprises reports on the following: the architecture of England and Northern Europe, government building in U.S.A., Canada, Germany and Great Britain, various National Capitals and Parliament Houses, the planning of Canberra, the site of Canberra's Parliament House and Australian growth centres. As well as reports, there are photographs of Sir John and members of the National Planning Committee, the Rocks area of Sydney, and the official openings of buildings, suburbs and roads in Canberra.
In 1946 Overall was the recipient of the New South Wales Board of Works Overseas Travelling Scholarship in Architecture. He used the award to travel to Europe in 1949 where he surveyed trends in architectural and urban design. This series contains typescripts of two reports which record his observations, and include photographs of the buildings and cities visited. Based on the results of his European investigations, Overall received the Board's Australian Medallion.
Overall held the position of Australian Government Chief Architect in the Commonwealth Works Department between 1953 and 1957. This series contains some ministerial notes and correspondence relating to the development of Canberra, together with documents recording his proposed appointment to the National Capital Development Authority.
In 1958 Overall was appointed Commissioner of the then National Capital Development Authority (from late 1959 known as the National Capital Development Commission), where he oversaw a period of great transition and expansion in Canberra's planning and development. He served in this capacity for 14 years, before taking up the position of Commissioner of the newly created National Urban and Regional Development Authority in 1972.
The series chiefly comprises published and unpublished reports of investigations and study tours, together with the results of a consultation undertaken on the Rocks Area of Sydney. Also included are some submissions and photographs of Canberra's development, and an interesting sequence of files on the design philosophy of Canberra.
Papers relating to Overall's association with the planning for, and design of, New Parliament House are contained in Series 5.
Overall served as the foundation Commissioner of the National Urban and Regional Development Authority from 1972 to 1973, during which period it was renamed the Cities Commission. In mid-1973 he put into effect a long-held personal plan to retire at the age of 60, and established his own architectural design firm, John Overall & Partners.
Included in this series are copies of ministerial papers and published reports relating to the Cities Commission activities. A transcript of an interview conducted by Mel Pratt with Overall on his retirement from office is contained in Folder 19.
Overall first became associated with plans for a new and permanent Parliament House whilst Chief Architect in the Commonwealth Works Department in the mid-1950s. A decade later, as NCDC Commissioner and a member of the specially convened National Area Study Group, he was closely involved with investigations into the proposed site for the building. This long-standing association with the design of the structure was extended in 1979-1980 when he served as Chairman of the New Parliament House Design Competition, and through his membership of the Parliament House Construction Authority in the period 1979 to 1985.
This series contains papers which document a number of the stages of the siting and design process, including minutes of the National Area Study Group, government submissions and comparative studies of other parliamentary buildings. Of special interest, Files 15-16 comprise a special commemorative File of papers and photographs which were presented to the judges of the New Parliament House Design Competition, to record the development of the final plan.
A series containing a sequence of files entitled 'Book notes' and related correspondence, which comprise research notes compiled by Overall, principally for his histories on Canberra's development.
This consignment includes reports, briefs case studies, notes and correspondence relating to development of Canberra; plaques and medals for town planning and architecture as well as Overall's KB and OBE.