Guide to the Papers of George Foster Pearce


MS 1827

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

George Foster Pearce
Papers of George Foster Pearce
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 1827
0.15 metres (7 folders)
Language of Materials
National Library of Australia


Scope and Contents

MS 1827 consists of correspondence 1909-1937 with S.M. Bruce, R.G. Casey, J.A. Lyons, David Rivett, Charles Nathan and others together with papers on the Imperial Conference 1911, the general election 1937, the development of Northern Australia, and Douglas Mawson's expedition to the Antarctic in 1929.

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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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 George Foster Pearce, National Library of Australia, MS 1827, [box number and series and/or file number]'.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The National Library's collections of Pearce Papers were received in three separate groups, the first of which was received in 1951 from Sir George himself. The other two groups received in 1966 and 1967 came from his son Philip, through Peter R. (later Sir Peter) Heydon.Other papers from Sir George's three terms between 1908 and 1921 as Minister for Defence, were lodged in the Australian War Memorial. A further set of papers are held in the Commonwealth Archives Office (CP 820) having been transferred there in August 1960 via a strongroom from Pearce's office in Parliament House. These include (i) personal papers while he was Vice-President of the Executive Council (1926-29) and Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (1930-31) and (ii) private papers 1915-30 relating to private and business interests, chiefly property, taxation and legal matters.

The three collections of Pearce Papers were catalogued as MS 213, MS 1827 and MS 1927 respectively, and descriptive lists are available for each collection.

Item Descriptions

Series 1. Defence Policy

Item 1-15. Correspondence and memoranda on defence policy, 1933, including the possibility of British help for Australian defence. Also a printed report on the defence position of Australia in 1920.

Series 2. Imperial Conference, 1911

Items 16-25. Printed report on the Imperial Conference of 1911, with ms notes by Pearce; also printed reports of the British Nationality and the Status of Aliens Bill of 1911, and of the decision about the status and duties of the Australian and Canadian navies, 1911.

Series 3. Development of Northern Australia

Items 26-150. Printed policy speech of Andrew Fisher, 1909, with marginal notes by Pearce; Pearce's 1933 memorandum for Cabinet on the development and populating of northern Australia, and on defence preparations against Japan; 1935 memorandum by V.C. Lohan on the development of the Barkly Tableland; 1937 correspondence on the development of the north; correspondence, memoranda, and reports on the development of the cattle industry in north-western Western Australia, 1935-3; cables from Bruce, 1936-7, on British help for the development of the cattle industry in the Northern Territory; copy of statement made in 1935 by H.B. Marks to the Royal Commission on the extension of the railway into the Barkly Tableland.

Series 4. Pearce and the 1937 Election

Items 151-261. Press cuttings and correspondence on the campaign generally; Pearce's election expenses; printed statistics of the Western Australia results in 1931-1937; collection of funds by the National Union of Western Australia and finance organizations in Melbourne and Sydney; organization of campaign against John Curtin's retention of the Fremantle seat; press cuttings of anti-Pearce election advertisements.

Series 5. Sir Douglas Mawson's expedition to the Antarctic, 1929

Items 262-310. 1932 correspondence of officially recognizing MacPherson Robertson's help for the expedition; 1929 correspondence on the planning of the expedition.

Series 6. Development of Northern Australia

Items 311-446. Memoranda, reports, and correspondence on Northern Australian development, 1923-1933, including the Cabinet Sub-Committee's report on North- Western Development, 1933; 1934 draft report by the Development Branch on the development of the Barkly Tablelands; 1934 correspondence with C.B. Alexander about his planned North-West Development Corporation for promoting settlement in north-western Australia; 1935 correspondence with James White of the Lessees' Negotiating Committee about northern development; 1936 correspondence with the Industrial Australian and Mining Standard about government plans for northern Australia.

Series 7. Federal grants to the states

Items 447-484. Proof copies of federal parliamentary debates on grants to states, 1936-7; press cuttings on the same topic. 1937 correspondence on the amounts of the grants, mainly as affecting Western Australia.

Series 8. Development of Northern Australia

Items 485-724. Correspondence, 1926-9, between the government and private enterprise on the development of northern Australia, including Lord Luke's visit in 1929, discussions with the Western Australian government in 1929 on the control and development of northern Australia; 1923-4 press cuttings in northern Australia development; the initial report in 1927 of the North Australia Commission on a scheme for developing northern Australia; and Sir Charles Nathan's efforts in 1928 to attract British capital to develop the north. Also Pearce's 1933 memorandum for Cabinet on the development of northern Australia, and Cabinet's decisions on the proposal; 1933-5 correspondence and memoranda on the unsuccessful plan by Northern Territory lease-holders to form a chartered co-operative company; and C.L.A. Abbott's 1936 letter about the development of the Northern Territory.