Guide to the Papers of Harold Blair


MS 8950

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

Harold Blair
Papers of Harold Blair
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 8950
0.33 metres (1 box, 2 folios)
Language of Materials


Scope and Content

The papers cover Blair's musical career, his work on behalf of Aboriginal children, and his speeches and statements on Aboriginal issues. Five albums contain cuttings, programs, photographs and, to a lesser extent, letters, speeches, and leaflets. The three general albums have been indexed. The other two albums cover Blair's 1951 New York tour and his Commonwealth Jubilee tour of Australia in the same year.

Miscellaneous items include three small notebooks with notes and jottings, Australian Broadcasting Commission material, exercise boks from courses attended, and a copy of his biography Dark Man White World.

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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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 Harold Blair, National Library of Australia, MS 8950, [series and/or file number]'.


The papers were donated by Mrs Dorothy Blair in 1995

Biographical Note

Harold Blair, Aboriginal tenor and activist, was born at the Cherbourg Aboriginal Mission in Queensland in 1924. Encouraged by Marjorie Lawrence he studied at the Conservatorium of Music in Melbourne, and in the United States. In 1949 he married Dorothy Eden, a fellow singing student at the Conservatorium, and went on to teach there from 1956. He was a very popular stage performer.

In 1962 Blair started the Aboriginal Children's project which provided Melbourne holidays for Mission children. He stood as the Labor candidate for the seat of Mentone in the 1964 Victorian Sate elections, losing only on preferences to the sitting member, the Minister for Transport. He died in Melbourne in 1976 at the age of 51.

Item Descriptions

Cutting book 1945-49 containing cuttings, programs, ABC contracts, and Conservatorium reports, covering Blair's early music career in Queensland and Victoria (File 1)

Cutting book 1951 covering a 26 recital tour of all States for the ABC, for the jubilee year of the Commonwealth (File 2)

Album 1972-76 includes correspondence, certificates of appreciation, congratulations on receiving the Order of Australia, death and funeral notices, and obituaries (File 3)

Correspondents include Peter Karmel, B. M. Snedden, and E. G. Dexter. Congratulatory messages include telegrams from Lord and Lady Casey, William McMahon, Ian Viner, and David Combe.

Three small personal notebooks with notes and jottings, 1958-59 and undated (File 4-6)

Course exercise books, Monash Teachers' College, and Melbourne Conservatorium (File 7-9)

ABC material including concert programs, 1950-51 (File 10)

Dark man white world: a portrait of tenor Harold Blair by Kenneth Harrison, 1975 (File 11)

Cutting book 1951-71 containing newspaper coverage of Blair's bid to enter Parliament; invitations, programs and reviews (Item 12)

Album of Blair's 1951 New York tour, including his only public appearance at the Town Hall, New York City, 18 March 1951, in a Benefit Preview Concert for the cultural exchange program of the Australian Society of New York. (Item 13)

Album includes photographs, information on the Society, and cuttings.