Guide to the Papers of Vance and Nettie Palmer


MS 3942

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

Vance and Nettie Palmer
Papers of Vance and Nettie Palmer
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 3942
1.68 metres (6 archive boxes + 1 large folio box)
Language of Materials
National Library of Australia


Scope and Contents

The greater part of Vance and Nettie Palmer's papers including most of their correspondence from well-known literary figures is housed at MS 1174.

This smaller collection covers the period from 1921 to 1966 the correspondence dating from 1930. A large proportion of the correspondence consists of sympathy letters received on the deaths of Vance and Nettie; for convenience these have been separated from the rest of the correspondence. Of the remainder a considerable amount readily separable from the general correspondence consists of correspondence with different publishers. Within each subseries letters are chronologically arranged.

The rest of the collection consists of a few handwritten and typescript drafts of Vance's work a large number of photographs of family and friends a smaller range of press clippings and a range of periodicals pamphlets and other printed material. A small number of Flora Eldershaw's papers are included and there is also a certain amount of material covering the activities of the Commonwealth Literary Fund and the observations of Vance Nettie and Aileen Palmer on the Spanish Civil War. A few miscellaneous personal effects and other miscellaneous items complete the collection.

There is a name index covering the correspondence in Series 1.

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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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 Vance and Nettie Palmer National Library of Australia MS 3942 [box number and series and/or file number]'.

Item Descriptions

Series 1. Correspondence

Subseries 1a. General

This subseries covers the period 1930-1966 and consists mainly of personal letters on a wide variety of subjects. Correspondence between Vance and Nettie during their periods of separation between Nettie and her mother during the Palmers'stay in London and correspondence from Spain are also included. Comprises Items 1-230.

Subseries 1b. Business

This subseries covers the period 1930-1964 and consists mostly of correspondence with a number of Australian and overseas publishing houses and correspondence regarding the performance and use of the Palmers ' work. Comprises Items 231-314.

Subseries 1c. Sympathy Correspondence on Vance Palmer's Death

Sympathy letters telegrams cards etc. (15 July 1959-1961) received by Nettie Aileen and Helen Palmer after Vance's death. The volume of correspondence as well as the range of correspondents indicates the wide esteem in which Vance was held. Comprises Items 315-713.

Subseries 1d. Sympathy Correspondence on Nettie Palmer’s Death

Sympathy letters telegrams cards etc. (19 October 1964-19 November 1964) received by Aileen and Helen Palmer after Nettie's death. Comprises Items 714-780.

Subseries 1e. Mary Gilmore Letters

This subseries consists of a file containing Nettie's typed set (unsigned) of letters from Dame Mary Gilmore 1932-1960. (Other letters from Dame Mary Gilmore can also be found in found in (a)). Comprises Items 781-807a.

Subseries 1f. Correspondence on the Publication of Je M'en Fiche!

A small number of congratulatory letters (19 August 1931-14 October 1931) received mostly by Aileen Palmer on the publication of Je M'en Fiche! by the 'Critics Club' a group of which she and Helen were members. Comprises Items 808-820.

Series 2. Miscellaneous Literary Works of Vance Palmer

This series includes a manuscript (1946) of a poem 'Thoughts on the Last Holiday at Point Lookout from a Prison Camp'; a photocopy of the manuscript of Helsinki Night; and typescript of A Man of the People and Prisoners' Country the latter with handwritten annotations by Vance.

Series 3. Miscellaneous Personal Effects of Vance and Nettie Palmer

File 1 holds Vance's passport a copy of his will and an extract from his birth certificate.

File 2 contains a notebook of Nettie's (1933-1936?); a copy of her will; and a scrapbook compiled by her father containing press clippings regarding the death in action of her cousin (?) Captain Mervyn B. Higgins.

Series 4. Press Clippings

A small range of press clippings 1928-1964 on a number of subjects including allegations of Communist influence on the Commonwealth Literary Fund. A large proportion of the clippings concern the Max Harris trial and the "Ern Malley" affair.

Series 5. Photographs

Files 1 and 2 contain unframed photographs some labelled and dated of the Palmer Higgins and McDonald families and friends of Vance and Nettie Palmer.

Boxes 3 and 4 contain framed family photographs and a few boxed relics such as medals and brooches.

Photographs (File 2)

[Portrait of Ina Higgins], undated (Item [unnumbered])
[Portrait of Ina Higgins], circa. 1898 (Item [unnumbered])

Series 6. Miscellaneous Publications

A range of mainly literary and political periodicals pamphlets programmes and similar printed material. Items are arranged alphabetically by title and chronologically within each title.

Series 7. Flora Eldershaw Papers

A small number of Flora Eldershaw's papers consisting of correspondence (mostly from Marjorie Barnard) and a manuscript draft and typescript of Flora Eldershaw's review for Meanjin of the anthology Coast to Coast.

Series 8. Material Relating to Various Literary Bodies

File 1 contains material relating to the activities of the Commonwealth Literary Fund.

File 2 contains Vance's royalty agreements (1921-1958) and Nettie's royalty agreements (1924-1950) with different publishers and a royalty account for Nettie's Henry Bournes Higgins - a Memoir.

Series 9. Material Relating to the Spanish Civil War

General documentation (reports committee minutes etc.) regarding the War plus manuscript and typescript accounts of the War by Vance Nettie and Aileen Palmer. (Further correspondence from Spain can be found in 1 (a)).

Series 10. Miscellaneous Items

File 1 contains loose pages some unidentified pieces of writing by Nettie Palmer two typed copies of 'Critics' Club - First Meeting' and other miscellaneous items.

Files 2 and 3 contain florists cards from Vance's and Nettie's funerals respectively.