Guide to the Papers of George Foster Pearce


MS 1927

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

George Foster Pearce
Papers of George Foster Pearce
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 1927
0.7 metres (5 boxes + 1 folio)
Language of Materials
National Library of Australia


Scope and Contents

MS 1927 contains Pearce's personal correspondence 1911-52, together with early manuscript and typescript drafts of his autobiography Carpenter to Cabinet, personal documents, miscellaneous articles and six volumes of press cuttings.

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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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 1927, [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. Personal Correspondence, 1911-1952

Comprises Items 1-455.

The correspondence is arranged in chronological order; some undated letters arte placed at the end. Subjects covered include the discovery of oil in Papua; industrial disputes; Australian-Japanese relations; the Australian government shipping line; Western Australian state politics; naval defence; the federal political crisis of 1929; Pearce's appointment to public office after leaving parliament. There are a long series of letters with an English correspondent, J.F. Ramsbotham, concerning the English political scene; letters from members of his family and other personal correspondence; communications concerning S.M. Bruce; and requests for assistance with historical research.

Series 2. Confidential and Official Correspondence, 1932

Comprises Items 456-520.

The correspondence is arranged in chronological order. Subjects covered include general Australian politics; the N.S.W. Labour Party in 1932 and earlier; Australian naval expansion; defence facilities at Darwin; the Geneva Disarmament Conference of 1932; the Honours List; H.S. Foll's criticism of Cabinet membership; and the Defence Liaison Office in London.

Series 3. Subject Files, 1911-1952

Comprises Items 521-1505.

Folder of correspondence and memoranda concerning Universal Military Training Scheme, 1911 (Item)

Pearce's press release, 1923 re Washington Disarmament Conference of 1922 (Item)

Memorandum by Vice-Admiral A.S. Hyde, 1933 (Item)

Re comparative cost of building cruisers and sloops in U.K. and Australia

Folder re visit of Sir Maurice and Lady Hankey to Australia, 1934 (Item)

Correspondence and memoranda, chiefly concerned with the itinerary of the visit

Memoranda concerning the direction of aircraft manufacture during Second World War (Item)

Note made by Pearce for his History of Defence Business Board of the Second World War (Item)

Includes correspondence and memoranda.

Correspondence, 1952, re possible re-establishment by government of Business Board for advising government re defence expenditure (Item)

Typescript emended article by Pearce on his 1911 trip from England to Australia (Item)

Note for speeches and correspondence, 1930-2 (Item)

Re government measures to combat Depression Includes information concerning the role of the United Australia Organization of Victoria and its leading members in influencing federal politics and policy in 1931. File not arranged in chronological order. Also contains a letter from S.M. Bruce, May 1930, containing his views on the political and economic situation in Australia and his possible return to active politics.

Correspondence and press cuttings, 1932-1934 (Item)

Re Western Australia's secession attempt. Details of the campaign against secession, with mention of federal grants to the states.

1933 memoranda re shorter hours of work. (Item)

Draft of report by Pearce concerning his Ministerial Tour of New Guinea, 1937 (Item)

Folder of correspondence about Pearce's defeat in the Western Australian Senate election of 1937 (Item)

Arranged in chronological order. Includes mention of Pearce's possible entry into Western Australian state politics.

Press release by Pearce, in reply to John Curtin's views on unemployment and migration; with relevant press cuttings, March 1938 (Item)

Memoranda, correspondence and reports on the development of Northern Australia, 1928-1929 (Item)

Principally correspondence with Sir Charles Nathan, who was attempting to interest British concerns in developing this region.

Correspondence, memoranda and draft report by Development Branch of Prime Minister's Department re the development of Northern Australia 1929-1934 (Item)

Correspondence, memoranda, cuttings, and draft report by Development Branch re development of Northern Australia 1932-1935 (Item)

Correspondence, memoranda and reports on the development of Northern Australia May-September 1934 (Item)

Memoranda and correspondence re Northern Australian development 1934-1935 (Item)

Series 4. Carpenter To Cabinet

Comprises Items 1506-2363.

Correspondence, memoranda, receipts and legal documents relating to the publication of Pearce's book Carpenter to Cabinet (Item)

Further correspondence and receipts concerning the publication of Carpenter to Cabinet (Item)

Plus letters commenting on the book from Pearce's family, associates and others. Also cuttings of press reviews of the book.

Cuttings of press reviews of Carpenter to Cabinet; of Pearce's press articles; miscellaneous press cuttings; cuttings on Pearce's retirement from the Senate (Item)

Early manuscript and typescript drafts of Carpenter to Cabinet with Pearce's manuscript emendations. (Item)

Typescript of Carpenter to Cabinet with manuscript emendations by Pearce. Plus manuscript draft of Chapter 45. (Item)

Typescript proofs of Carpenter to Cabinet with editorial markings. (Item)

Series 5. Articles

Comprises Items 2364-2481.

Article by Pearce, written in August 1939 entitled The Minister for Defence in War Time (Item)

Pearce's articles giving his recollections of Lord Forrest, written for the West Australian in 1947 (Item)

Pearce's article written in 1948 for, but not published by, the Melbourne Herald entitled 'The Tragedy of Czechoslovakia and of Eduard Benes' (Item)

Manuscript and typescript copies of article by Pearce, n.d., entitled 'The Fun Fury of Some Public Meetings: Experiences of Sir George Pearce as a Candidate and Speaker' (Item)

Series 6. Personal Documents

Comprises Items 2482-2802.

Copies of Pearce's wills, date 1941 and 1947, and of his wife's will, 1941 (Item)

Details of Pearce's tax returns, 1927, 1931-1935 (Item)

Pearce's stocks, bonds and insurance policies (Item)

Also minutes of meetings of The Emu Bay Railway Co. Ltd., 1946-1947 and 1951; also details of Lady Pearce's estate.

Miscellaneous receipts (Item)

Lady Pearce's estate (Item)

Masonic items: Certificates, and correspondence re Masonic affairs (Item)

Philatelic: Notes on Pearce's stamp collection, and letters carried in three inaugural air flights from England to Australia. (Item)

Miscellaneous: passport, railway passes, etc. (Item)

Invitations (Item)

Appointment of Pearce as Commissioner, Procurer and Plenipotentiary to Washington Disarmament Conference, 1922 (Item)

(In folio run)

Letters patent appointing Pearce to Commonwealth Grants Commission in 1939 and 1941 (Item)

Appointment in 1905 as Chairman of Commission to enquire into the sale of tobacco in Australia (Item)

Series 7. Cutting Books

Six volumes covering the period 17 November 1908 - 28 August 1909, and 1938. Comprises Items 2803-2808.

Series 8. Miscellaneous Items

Miscellaneous, including Bruce's speech at the opening, in 1927, of new Parliament House in Canberra. Comprises Items 2809-2816.