National Library of Australia
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The papers relate to the career and personal life of economist, statistician and senior Commonwealth public servant, Sir Roland Wilson KBE CBE. The papers include correspondence; academic notes; addresses and speech notes; as well as files retained by Wilson on a number of aspects of Australian Commonwealth economic policy development. Correspondents include early statisticians and economists, such as J. B. (James Bristock) Brigden and L. F. (Lyndhurst Falkiner) Giblin, aviators such as Sir Hudson Fysh, and federal ministers and prime ministers such as R. G. Menzies and Harold Holt. Some material relates to issues surrounding the governance and management of the Commonwealth Bank and Qantas when Wilson was member and Chairman of the boards of those enterprises.
All aspects of Sir Roland's public service life are covered by the collection. More material relates to his personal life and academic studies than that to his time as Commonwealth Statistician, or founding Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service.
This collection is available for research.
Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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 Roland Wilson, National Library of Australia, [class/series/file number]'.
Two items, J. B. Brigden letter (now at Series 8 File 7) and a bound photocopy of Wilson's Beit prize winning essay 'Social and economic experiments in Queensland' (now in Series 6) have been held by the Library since before 1996. The remainder of MS 1155 was donated to the Library by the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation, Australian National University, in 2006. Further papers were added in two separate consignments in 2014.
Other material relating to Sir Roland Wilson (including the original handwritten manuscript of the essay 'Social and economic experiments in Queensland') is held by the Australian Bureau of Statistics Library (Canberra) as Dep CS MS 001.
Material relating to Sir Roland's career is held at the National Archives of Australia in records of the Departments of which he was Secretary. There is also a formed collection of papers at M2806 Folders, binders and volumes maintained by Sir Roland Wilson.
The collection, although mostly held in labelled files, was somewhat disordered on receipt from the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation. There were signs of several previous filing arrangements which proved too sporadic to re-establish. The collection also shows evidence of re-arrangement, possibly after Sir Roland retired from the Commonwealth Public Service and during his time as Chairman of the Boards of QANTAS and the Commonwealth Bank. There is also evidence of some culling and re-arrangement as evidenced by notes (in Wilson's hand?) saying 'Examined 20/2/84'.
In 2007, the Library arranged the collection into series: correspondence; research materials; addresses and the remainder arranged in accordance with Sir Roland's career. Pre-existing labelling of subject files and internal arrangement within those files has been maintained.
Although a large number of printed publications held by Wilson were not retained with the collection, the most significant books relating to the development of his academic training in economics are retained as Series 10.
1904: Roland Wilson born 7 April, at Ulverstone, Tasmania. Wilson was called 'Roly' by his father Thomas Wilson.
1925: Rhodes Scholar for Tasmania.
1926: Received a Bachelor of Commerce from University of Tasmania.
1926: Beit Prizeman (Oxon) for 'Social and economic experiments in Queensland'
1928-1930: Commonwealth Fund Fellow. Wilson used the scholarship to extend his academic studies at the University of Chicago (PhD).
1929: Received a Doctorate of Philosophy at Oxford for a thesis on the import of capital.
1930: Married Valeska Thompson (b. 7 August 1904, New Mexico, USA).
1930: Lecturer in Economics and Director of Tutorial classes in the University of Tasmania until 1932 and Workers Education Association lecturer at the University of Tasmania.
1931: Publication of academic research as volume
1932: Joined Commonwealth Public Service in the Department of the Treasury in the Economic Statistician's Branch as Assistant Commonwealth Statistician.
1936-1940: Became Commonwealth Statistician and Economic Adviser to the Treasury.
1940-1946: Established and directed the Department of Labour and National Service.
1941: Appointed Commander of the British Empire (CBE).
1942-1945: During the war, Wilson constructed an electric car in order to drive during petrol rationing.
1946-1951: Returned to the post as Commonwealth Statistician and Economic Adviser to the Treasury.
1948-1949: Chairman of the Economic and Employment Commission of the United Nations.
1951-1966: Secretary of the Treasury.
1955: Created a Knight Bachelor (Kt) for outstanding public service.
1965: Created a Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE).
1966: Retired from the Commonwealth Public Service and became Chairman of Qantas until 1973; Chairman of Qantas Wentworth Hotel Ltd until 1975; and Chairman of Commonwealth Banking Corporation until 1975.
1971: June 2, Valeska, Wilson's wife was killed (aged 64) in a motor accident on the highway near San Augustin de las Juntas, Oaxaca, Mexico and was interred in the Municipal Cemetery, Oaxaca, Mexico.
1975: Married Joyce.
1975: Retired from the Commonwealth Bank Board, 14 January.
1996: Sir Roland Wilson died in Canberra 25 October.
1996: Died 25 October, survived by wife, Joyce. No children.
Who's Who in Australia
Person notes for person CP 556, Sir Roland Wilson KBE, CBE on RecordSearch database at http://www.naa.gov.au.
Sir Roland Wilson : a biographical essay, Selwyn Cornish, Canberra, Australian National University, c2002.
Obituary Sir Roland Wilson, 'Outstanding public servant of his generation', Informing a nation: the evolution of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1905-2005, Canberra, Australian Bureau of Statistics, c2005.
Giblin's platoon: the trials and triumph of the economist in Australian public life, William Oliver Coleman, Selwyn Cornish, Alfred Hagger, Canberra, ACT ANU E Press, c2006.
Comprising papers that relate to the career and personal life of economist, statistician and senior Commonwealth public servant, Sir Roland Wilson KBE CBE. The papers include correspondence; academic notes; addresses and speech notes; as well as files retained by Wilson on a number of aspects of Australian Commonwealth economic policy development. Correspondents include early statisticians and economists, such as J. B. (James Bristock) Brigden and L. F. (Lyndhurst Falkiner) Giblin, aviators such as Sir Hudson Fysh, and federal ministers and prime ministers such as R. G. Menzies and Harold Holt. Some material relates to issues surrounding the governance and management of the Commonwealth Bank and Qantas when Wilson was member and Chairman of the boards of those enterprises. The collection also includes a bound photocopy of a manuscript entitled 'Social and economic experiments in Queensland', the draft of Beit prize essay 1927 by Roland Wilson.
Contained in 33 boxes (MS 1155, Boxes 1-33).
Correspondence as retained by Wilson including family letters while Wilson was studying overseas and personal correspondence.
Other correspondence has been placed in series which relate to Sir Roland's career, for example, Series 4 holds Qantas correspondence. Correspondence with L. F. Giblin and J. B. Brigden is located in Series 8.
There is evidence of culling and later labelling by Wilson. These have been retained in this arrangement.
Letters were written to Roland while he was studying at Oxford and at Chicago.
Includes some letters from other family members.
Includes some letters from other family members (brothers?).
These letters may have been removed from their original sequence.
Includes some letters from other family members, Ulverstone, Tasmania.
Includes birthday and Christmas cards and a list of letters destroyed, August 1977.
Arranged alphabetically by correspondent to Roland Wilson.
Includes letters from D. B. Copland and Melbourne University Press.
Labelled folders as retained by Sir Roland Wilson.
Includes letters from Clerici, Melbourne Herald, and Melbourne University Press.
Includes copies of replies by Wilson.
Includes diary notes made while on a study tour of the United States and a retouched colour photographic portrait of Wilson's mother(?)
Correspondents include Nancy Long; Bob Garner; Sir Lenox Hewitt; Sir Stanley Carver and E. T. Mc Phee.
Correspondents include A. Oppenheim; Mr McFarlane; Heyward, and Knights Bachelor.
Later material relates to the functions marking the 50th anniversary of Sir Roland Wilson's appointment as Commonwealth Statistician.
Originals and carbon copy replies.
Includes notes and correspondence with J. B. Brigden.
Newspaper clippings, Hansard proofs, and correspondence relating to a controversy over remarks made by Sir Roland Wilson in an after dinner speech to the Federal Council of the Electrical Manufacturers Australia, 4 May 1953.
Wilson's advice to the government on the governance of the Commonwealth Bank.
Includes correspondence from Sir Frederick Wheeler; Sir Lenox Hewitt, and Sir Richard Randall.
Includes original correspondence form Sir Hudson Fysh.
Includes copies of correspondence and notes made by Sir Roland Wilson.
Relates to the pilots' remuneration disputes.
Mostly relating to remuneration of the Board Chair of Qantas.
Also includes notes made while Wilson was a lecturer with the University of Melbourne and for the Workers Educational Association.
Series 2 also contains notebooks; Series 2 and 3 also contain notes on small cards and notepapers that were filed alphabetically.
Includes a bound photocopy of Wilson's Beit Prize essay Social and economic experiments in Queensland and the holograph manuscript; typescript carbon copy and three printed and bound copies of Capital imports and the terms of trade.
Also includes statistical publications and articles by Wilson and an article on Wilson's contribution by Ian Castles as printed in the Canberra bulletin of public administration.
Contains 18 notebooks, some bound together.
On system cards or small pieces of paper filed in card boxes.
Includes a letter to Wilson from Giblin, 19 November 1950, and appended to notes made by Wilson.
Includes remnants of an alphabetical filing arrangement.
Some are bundles of summarised cards with annotations for emphasis as made and retained by Sir Roland Wilson.
As given at the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (ANZAAS) congress
Summarised cards with annotations for emphasis as made and retained by Sir Roland Wilson.
Subject files relate to Australia's economic policy development and cover tariffs; multilateral clearings; balance of payments, and wool industry policies.
Several labelled files of original correspondence, transcribed copies and biographical notes prepared by Sir Roland Wilson.
Includes a reprint from the Melbourne Herald of 'Letters to John Smith telling in simple language the facts of the economic situation that has arisen in Australia, and showing how our problems can be solved' / by L. F. Giblin, 1930.
Includes poetry and a black and white photographic print portrait of J. B. Brigden.
Includes annotations made later by Sir Roland Wilson.
Labelled files as retained by Sir Roland Wilson or correspondence and a memorial article written by Wilson.
Includes a black and white print and photographic negative of a sketch portrait of J. B. Brigden as published in Smith's Weekly, 3 August 1929.
Several labelled files of original correspondence, transcribed copies, photocopies and biographical notes prepared by Sir Roland Wilson.
Includes Brigden's papers relating to the Overseas Shipping Representatives Association (OSRA).
Brigden counsels Wilson on debating techniques.
File labelled Unemployment is an essay from Wilson's time as a student of economics.
The logs are a carbon typescript 'Being the tedious brief tale of the wanderings over North America of Herbert Elvin; Hugh Soulsby; George Taylor and Roland Wilson in the summer of nineteen hundred and twenty nine' possibly written by Hugh Soulsby.
There is also a handwritten diary log of a tour of Washington, DC taken from 13 July - 25 August another year 1930? There are also black and white photographic prints of Roland Wilson with other young males possibly taken in Tasmania?
Carbon typescript copies of job applications and some holograph and typescript copies of testimonials and references. Some material relates to Wilson's membership of the Economic Society of Australia and the Commonwealth Club.
Copies of magazines for Sacred Heart School, Ulverstone, Tasmania; Devonport State High School and Oriel College Oxford. Some containing articles on Roland Wilson.
Testamur form the University of Tasmania (1922); warrant (1941) and citation (1955) for Commander of the British Empire, Civil Division.
Photograph of Roland Wilson aged 15 months?; family photographs?; marriage certificate; wedding handkerchief; notes concerning family and friends, and photograph of wedding of Bruce Wilson (Roland's brother?)
Includes a cassette tape sound recording of Norman and Molly Hawkins talking to Bill and Tony Wilson, 23 December 1968.
Death certificate and black and white photographic prints of the funeral and gravesite at Oaxaca, Mexico. Handwritten note in Wilson's hand of dispersal of some effects of Valeska Wilson to friends and family.
Miscellaneous items including a menu for a Robert Menzies farewell dinner given by the permanent heads of the Commonwealth Public Service; a recipe identified as 'Roland's favourite recipe'; black and white photographic prints of a meeting in Tasmania.
Also includes a souvenir of QANTAS salute to Apollo 11, and souvenir and photographic album of USS Hornet visit made by Sir Roland Wilson, 10 March 1966. This album needs removing from sticky album.
Includes black and white photographic prints of Sir Roland Wilson driving the electric car in Canberra, 1942?
Mostly photocopies and printed articles.
Includes works on economics, statistics, economic history, and a number of volumes that were held by Chas. Wickens as Commonwealth Statistician, 1922-1931.
Comprising original papers of Sir Roland, including correspondence, speeches, notes, newspaper cuttings, photographs, university graduation certificate and publications together with papers of Ian Castles relating to his research about Sir Roland, his obituary of him, and his involvement with the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation.
Contained in 3 boxes (MS Acc14.016, Boxes 1-3).
Comprising correspondence and miscellaneous papers including letters from Bill McMahon, H.C. Coombs, and Ben Chifley, and certificate of patent USA, 1925-1975; photographs of Sir Roland and the opening of the Sir Roland Wilson building at the Australian National University, c.1924-c.2000; publications by Sir Roland, 1925-1988; and newspaper cuttings about Sir Roland, c.1928-1996.
Contained in 1 box (MS Acc14.026 Box 1).