Guide to the Papers of Alexander Dix


MS 9919

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

Alexander Dix
Papers of Alexander Dix
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 9919
1.4 metres (10 boxes)
Language of Materials
National Library of Australia


Scope and Contents

The papers mainly document Dix’s schooldays and early career and his public activities in the last twenty years or so of his life. They include letters, speeches, notes, photographs, certificates, invitations, programs, agenda papers and minutes, official papers, newspaper cuttings and publications. There are papers relating to many of the organisations and institutions with which Dix was involved and in particular the 1979-81 Committee of Inquiry into the Australian Broadcasting Commission (the Dix Committee) and the National Museum of Australia. Correspondents include Jerry Ellis, Sir William Heseltine, Sir Geoffrey Yeend, Sir Harold White, J. Norgard and H.E. Maude.

There are virtually no papers relating to Dix’s career as a businessman.

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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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 Alexander Dix, National Library of Australia, MS 9919, [box number and series and/or file number]'.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were presented to the Library by Mrs Ann Dix in 2002.


Most of the papers had been kept in files or large envelopes and these groupings have been retained. The main exception were the papers on the Committee of Inquiry into the ABC and the National Maritime Museum, which were rather disordered. The present arrangement of these two series was made by Library staff.

Biographical Note

Alexander Thomas Dix was born in Melbourne on 18 February 1927. He was educated at Scotch College and the University of Melbourne, where he graduated with Honours in History in 1949. Manning Clark was his thesis supervisor. He married Elizabeth Pryce on 30 April 1949.

In 1949 Dix joined the staff of the Archives Division of the Commonwealth National Library in Canberra. He also lectured in History at Canberra University College. In 1951 he was seconded to the South Pacific Commission in Sydney and spent four years in its Social Development Section, which was headed by H.E. Maude. In 1955 he became private secretary to F.M. Osborne, who was Minister for Customs and later Minister for Air in the Menzies Government. In 1959 Dix joined the international company Reckitt and Colman, initially as assistant to the chairman. He remained with the company until 1983 and in later years was Managing Director of its Australian subsidiary and Group Director, Planning and Control.

From the late 1970s onwards, Dix served on the boards of a growing number of companies, organisations and government bodies. For nine years he was chairman of the National Museum of Australia Council. He was Deputy Chancellor of the University of Western Sydney, chairman of the Australian Maritime Museum Council and the Australian Council for Bibliographical Services, and a member of the New South Wales Science and Technology Council, the Hawkesbury Agricultural College Council and the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Council. His name became widely known when he chaired a major inquiry into the Australian Broadcasting Commission in 1979-81.

Dix was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1984. He died in Sydney in December 2001, survived by his wife and six children.

Item Descriptions

Series 1. General correspondence, 1964-1999

In his later years Dix kept some of his personal correspondence in a concertina file, arranged alphabetically. The letters, and also a few notes and cuttings, have been retained in this order.

The correspondents include Barry Cohen, Peter Coleman, Gordon Darling, J.K. Ellis, Sir William Heseltine, Justice Michael Kirby, H.E. Maude, Tom McVeigh, Nancy Phelan, Peter Ryan, Gordon Samuels, Sir Ninian Stephen, Sir Ian Turbott and E.V. Wright.

A-C, 1980-1998 (File 1) - Box 1

D-J, 1978-1994 (File 2) - Box 1

K-P, 1964-1994 (File 3) - Box 1

R-S, 1977-1996 (File 4) - Box 1

T-Z, 1983-1999 (File 5) - Box 1

Series 2. Speeches, 1981-1998

The series contain transcripts and notes for speeches and also related letters, programs, invitations and newspaper cuttings. Dix kept them in annual files and they have been retained in that order.

Speeches, 1980 (File 1) - Box 1

Speeches, 1981 (File 2-3) - Box 1

Speeches, 1982 (File 4) - Box 1

Speeches, 1984 (File 5-7) - Box 2

Speeches, 1985 (File 8-9) - Box 2

Speeches, 1986 (File 10) - Box 2

Speeches, 1987 (File 11) - Box 2

Speeches, 1988 (File 12) - Box 2

Speeches, 1989 (File 13) - Box 2

Speeches, 1990 (File 14) - Box 3

Speeches, 1991 (File 15) - Box 3

Speeches, 1992 (File 16) - Box 3

Speeches, 1993 (File 17) - Box 3

Speeches, 1994 (File 18) - Box 3

Speeches, 1998 (File 19) - Box 3

Series 3. Photographs, c.1968-1980

The series contains a small group of photographs, including some of Dix with his children. Other photographs can be found in series 4, 5, 6 and 8.

Photographs, c.1968-1980 (File 1) - Box 3

Series 4. Scotch College, 1937-1947

Dix attended Scotch College in Melbourne from 1937 to 1945. He was Captain of the School and Captain of Boats in 1944-1945. The series comprises certificates, testimonials, sports programs, speech day programs, newspaper cuttings, and photographs of buildings and rowing crews.

Papers relating to the Old Scotch Collegians’ Association are in Series 8.

Certificates, 1937-1945 (File 1) - Box 3

Papers, 1940-1945 (File 2) - Box 3

Rowing, 1941-1945 (File 3) - Box 3

Rowing photographs, 1941, 1947 (File 4) - Folio-Box Folio

Series 5. Career, 1948-1981

As a young man, Dix applied for a variety of academic and official jobs. In 1949 he was appointed an Archives Officer in the Commonwealth National Library in Canberra and worked on the arrangement and description of records of the New Guinea administration. In 1951 he was seconded to the South Pacific Commission and worked with H.E Maude as a research assistant. In 1956 he was appointed private secretary to the Minister for Customs, F.M. Osborne, and retained this position until 1959. The papers relating to these appointments mostly comprise applications, references and correspondence concerning appointments, duties, salaries and entitlements. The correspondents include H.L. White, H.E. Maude and Sir Brian Freeston.

There are no papers on the firm of Reckitt and Colman, where Dix worked from 1959 to 1983. In February 1979 he went to the United States as an Eisenhower Exchange Fellow. He spent four months travelling widely and studying the consumer goods industry, especially consumerism and the effects of government regulation on corporate activity. There are papers relating to the Fellowship and copies of Dix’s report. Papers relating to his later involvement with the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships are in Series 8.

Job-hunting, 1948-1950 (File 1) - Box 4

Job-hunting, 1951-1956 (File 2) - Box 4

Job-hunting, 1980-1981 (File 3) - Box 4

Commonwealth National Library, 1951-1954 (File 4) - Box 4

South Pacific Commission, 1950-1956 (File 5) - Box 4

South Pacific Commission, 1952-1954 (File 6-7) - Box 4

South Pacific Commission, 1956 (File 8) - Box 4

F.M. Osborne, 1957-1958 (File 9) - Box 4

Lockhead visit, USA, March 1957 (File 10) - Box 5

Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship, 1979 (File 11-12) - Box 5

Series 6. Australian Broadcasting Commission Review, 1979-1983

In December 1979 Dix was appointed chairman of a committee to review the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The other members were A.C. Castles, an academic lawyer, Patricia Lovell, a film producer, and Brian Sweeney, a businessman. They travelled widely through Australia, engaged several consultants, surveyed audiences, and received over 2200 written submissions. The five volume report was delivered to the Minister for Communications, Ian Sinclair, in May 1981. The report was very wide-ranging, covering such matters as governance, senior management, staff morale, radio and television networks, corporate sponsorship, symphony orchestras, educational programs, news services and the coverage of sporting events. One consequence was the 1983 Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act which turned the Commission into a Corporation.

The series contains a diverse group of papers, not kept in any particular order, including agenda papers, minutes and other official papers, handwritten notes by Dix, letters and newspaper cuttings. The correspondents include A.A. Staley, John Norgard, Alex Castles, Frank Gillard, Talbot Duckmanton, Sir Charles Moses and Leonie Kramer.

Legislation, nd (File 1) - Box 5

Parliamentary papers, 1979-1980 (File 2) - Box 5

Programs and itineraries, 1980 (File 3) - Box 5

Agenda and minutes, 1979-1980 (File 4) - Box 5

Official papers, 1980 (File 5) - Box 5

Official papers, 1980-1981 (File 6) - Box 5

Notes, nd (File 7) - Box 6

Correspondence, 1979 (File 8) - Box 6

Correspondence, 1980 (File 9) - Box 6

Correspondence, 1981 (File 10-11) - Box 6

Correspondence, 1982 (File 12) - Box 6

Newspaper cuttings, 1980-1983 (File 13-15) - Box 6

Miscellaneous papers, 1980-1982 (File 16) - Box 6

Printed material, nd (File 17) - Box 7

Series 7. National Museum of Australia, 1980-1989

The Museum of Australia was established under the 1980 Museum of Australia Act. The initial planning was to be done by an Interim Council which was appointed in February 1981, with Dix as Chairman. It was replaced by the Council of the Museum of Australia in December 1983 and Dix continued to be Chairman until June 1990. In 1985 amending legislation changed the name to the National Museum of Australia. It was a frustrating period, with a lack of strong Government support for the Museum, reduced funding, and debates over the proposed site at Yarramundi Reach. In his final report (1989) Dix wrote ‘Each Council Report since 1980 has reflected Council’s concern that no firm commitment has been made to proceed with the actual construction of this great national institution’. The Museum was finally opened in 2001.

The papers relating to the Museum were in scattered files and in no particular order. They included official papers, personal correspondence, publications, newspaper cuttings and papers concerning the Friends of the National Museum. The correspondents include R.J. Ellicott and Don McMichael.

Council, 1980-1989 (File 1) - Box 7

Agenda papers, Feb. 1981 (File 2) - Box 7

Correspondence, 1981-1987 (File 3) - Box 7

Correspondence, 1988-1990 (File 4) - Box 7

Overseas trip, 1981-1982 (File 5) - Box 7

Endeavour project, 1987 (File 6) - Box 7

Parliamentary debates, 1988-1989 (File 7) - Box 7

Friends of the National Museum, 1988-1989 (File 8) - Box 7

Miscellaneous papers, 1989 (File 9) - Box 7

Newspaper cuttings, 1984-1989 (File 10) - Box 8

Publications, 1981-1990 (File 11) - Box 8

Series 8. Other organisations, 1978-1999

In the last twenty years of his life Dix was involved in varying capacities with many government bodies, educational and cultural institutions, and other organisations. He kept files on several of these organisations which contain letters, circulars, brochures and other papers. The files on the National Museum of Australia, which he chaired for nine years, have been separated to form Series 7.

The correspondents include Sir Geoffrey Yeend (Files 4-7), Jerry Ellis (Files 4-7), Theodore Friend (Files 5- 6), Raymond Marginson (File 6), Gary Wood (File 14), Rosemary Howard (File 16) and Sir Ian Turbott (File 21)

Australian Advisory Council on Bibliographical Services, 1984-1988 (File 1) - Box 8

Australian National Maritime Museum, 1987-1999 (File 2) - Box 8

Confederation of Australian Professional Performing Arts, 1984-1988 (File 3) - Box 8

Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, 1982-1984 (File 4) - Box 8

Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, 1985-1986 (File 5) - Box 8

Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, 1987-1990 (File 6) - Box 8

Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, 1991-1997 (File 7) - Box 8

Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships publications, nd (File 8) - Box 8

Independent Commission against Corruption: Walsh Bay Redevelopment Project, 1988-1990 (File 9-11) - Box 9

International House, University of Sydney, 1989-1998 (File 12) - Box 9

NSW Department of State Development, 1989-1990 (File 13) - Box 9

NSW Natural Resources Audit Council, 1993-1995 (File 14) - Box 9

NSW Science and Technology Council, 1979-1995 (File 15-16) - Box 9

Old Scotch Collegians’ Association, 1978-1998 (File 17) - Box 9

Probity Advisor, 1996 (File 18) - Box 10

Quadrant, 1979-1980 (File 19) - Box 10

University of Western Sydney, 1990-1998 (File 20-21) - Box 10

Victorian Tapestry Workshop, 1985-1997 (File 22) - Box 10

Hawkesbury Agricultural College, 1984-1991 (File 23) - Folio-Box Folio