Guide to the Records of the National Council for Civil Liberties (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

National Council for Civil Liberties
Records of National Council for Civil Liberties (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1911 - 1973
Collection Number
53 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

Correspondence, cuttings, printed material, memoranda and notes relating to civil rights in Australia, New Zealand, Malaya and Singapore; and relations with Australian Council for Civil Liberties, New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties, Democratic Rights Council, Queensland Civil Liberties League and other organisations. Main correspondents are Brian Fitzpatrick, S.J. Dempsey, Harold Rich, Charles Duguid and Gordon Jackson.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Material selectively filmed at the Archive Department, Brynmor Jones Library, University of Hull, as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1989 (AJCP Reels: M2657-M2661). Original microfilm digitised as part of the AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Hull History Centre (Hull City Archives). Formerly Archive Department, Brynmor Jones Library, University of Hull, Cottingham Road, Kingston upon Hull, Humberside HU6 7RX, England.

Collection reference: U DCL. For further information, see Archives of Liberty (formerly The National Council for Civil Liberties) (1934 - ) (

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Finding-Aid Notes

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2018. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.

Advisory Statement

Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this Finding Aid contains material and descriptive information which may be considered culturally sensitive and may cause distress, including names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased. This Finding Aid contains terms that reflect authors' views or those of the historical period, but which may not be considered appropriate today. While the information may not reflect current understanding, it is provided in an historical context.


Australia; Australian Council for Civil Liberties; Democratic Rights Council; Dempsey, S.J.; Duguid, Charles, Dr; Fitzpatrick, Brian; Jackson, Gordon; Malaya; National Council for Civil Liberties; New Zealand; New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties; Queensland Civil Liberties League; Rich, Harold; Singapore


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 338, p.127.

Biographical / Historical

The National Council for Civil Liberties was founded in London in 1934. Ronald Kidd, a London bookseller, had suggested that a group of writers, journalists, lawyers and politicians should be formed to act as observers during mass gatherings, such as hunger marches, so that complaints of police harassment could be corroborated. The idea gradually evolved of a permanent watchdog, which would operate through Parliament, public meetings, publications, the press and the courts. E.M. Forster was elected as the first president of the Council and Kidd was the secretary until his death in 1942. Founder members included A.P. Herbert, Kingsley Martin, Harold Laski, Vera Brittain, Rebecca West and Edith Summerskill.

In its early years the Council was particularly concerned with threats to individuals, particularly the Jewish community in the East End, posed by gatherings and marches of the British Union of Fascists. It also sought to secure amendments to proposed legislation, such as the 1934 Incitement to Disaffection Bill and the 1936 Public Order Bill, as well as the repeal of certain laws, such as the 1913 Mental Deficiency Act. During World War II it opposed excessive censorship of the press, radio and publications, defended the rights of conscientious objectors and foreigners who had been interned, and courts martial. The Council's interests extended to the British colonies, particularly labour conditions, while at home it drew attention to racial discrimination in employment and housing and the treatment of immigrants in the post-war years. It also campaigned for the reform of the mental health system and was involved in several cases of apparent miscarriage of justice.

From 1937 onwards the Council published a journal, Civil Liberty. In 1989 The Council changed its name to Liberty. From 1974 to 1983 the general secretary of the Council was the Australian expatriate Patricia Hewitt.

Reference: Mark Lilly. The National Council for Civil Liberties: the first fifty years, London, 1984.

Item Descriptions

Series DCL 11. Foreign And Colonial, 1943 - 1961

1 item

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M2657.

New Zealand, 1943 - 1961 (File DCL 11/6)

Correspondence, press cuttings, printed material, memoranda and notes re civil rights in New Zealand, Cook Islands, Niue.

Includes: Human Rights: official bulletin of Human Rights Organisation, Wellington. April, May, July 1953; June 1954; Frank Longstone, NZ Liberty 1951. (printed); New Zealand Freedom Association pamphlets (printed); W J Scott, Civil Liberties in NZ. New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties, 1951. (printed); Judgement in 'Lolita' case, 1960. Australia-New Zealand Civil Liberties Society. Report on Niue Islanders case. 1953. (blurred carbon typescript)

Memorandum on New Zealand Police Offences Amendment Bill. [1951] (Blurred carbon typescript).

Correspondents include: Alex McLeod (London); F G Morris (NZ Council for Civil Liberties, Wellington); Margaret Brand (Human Rights Organisation, Wellington); T Clifton Webb (Minister of Island Territories, Wellington); R Armstrong (Democratic Rights Council, Auckland); Roy K Sharp (Auckland); Helen Smith (Wellington); Bruce Paton (Christchurch); R M Algie (New Zealand Freedom Association, Auckland).


Series DCL 49. Foreign And Commonwealth, 1951

2 items

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M2657.

Australia Suppression of Communism, 1951 (File DCL 49/3)

Comprises: L J McPhillips. A weapon against the workers. Compulsory arbitration in Australia. World Trade Union Movement Journal. 5 Feb 1951. (off print)

A Bill for an Act To Provide for the disolution of the Australian Communist Party and of other communist organisations to disquality communists from holding certain offices and for other purposes connected therewith. (Duplicated typescript copy)


New Zealand. Industrial Conciliation Act, 1951 (File DCL 49/5)

Comprises copies of Acts and Bills.

Although listed, this Sub-Series was not filmed by the AJCP.

Series DCL 56. Canada and Australia, 1949 - 1960

9 items

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reels M2657-M2658.

Australian Council for Civil Liberties, 1949 - 1952 (File DCL 56/3)

Correspondence, publications and notes from Australian Council for Civil Liberties, Melbourne.

Publications include: Brian Fitzpatrick, The Unnecessary Police State Bill. A.C.C.L. 1950; Award on the Referendum to Responsible Citizens. 1951; Civil Liberty Vol 10 no. 1, November 1949.

Correspondence between Brian Fitzpatrick (General Secretary, A.C.C.L., Melbourne) and N.C.C.L., London re 'security' legislation in Dominions; Public Entertainments Bill in Victoria; Australian Communist Party.


Australia. Democratic Rights Council, 1950 - 1955 (File DCL 56/4)

Correspondence, publications and notes from Democratic Rights Council, Sydney.

Publications include: A Charter of Freedom: report on conference for Democratic Rights, Melbourne, 1950; Invitation to Australian People's Assembly for Human Rights. Melbourne, n.d.; It Has Happened Here: Dismissal of Dr P R James. n.d.

Correspondence between Harold Rich (Secretary DRC, Sydney); V J A O'Connor (DRC, Melbourne); R F Riddiford (Melbourne) and NCCL, London re defunct state of DRC; campaign against Communist party disolution; use of public halls for meetings; rights of Indigenous Australians.


Australia. General, 1950 - 1957 (File DCL 56/5)

Correspondence, press cuttings and notes re civil liberties in Australia.

Subjects include: censorship, migration, espionage, Australian Communist Party.

Correspondents include: C Gibson (Agent General Office, W.A.); S J Dempsey (Acting Chief Migration Officer, Australia House). Doris Blackburn (Australia House); J Newbury (Melbourne).


Australia-New Zealand Society, 1951 - 1955 (File DCL 56/6)

Correspondence, memoranda and publications from Australia and New Zealand Civil Liberties Society, London.

Correspondents include: R Marmach (Secretary); F Levitas (London); R Westagate (London).

Includes: Annual Reports, Bulletin no. 3, 1953; no. 2, 1952; Draft Constitution.

Subjects include: Indigenous Australians; civil rights bodies in Australia; passport confiscation; New Zealand Police Offences Amendments Bill.


Australian Aboriginals, 1954 - 1959 (File DCL 56/7)

Correspondence, press cuttings and memoranda on Indigenous Australians, especially in Western Australia and Woomera.

Includes: Western Australia. Report of Select Committee…Native Welfare Conditions in Laverton-Warburton Range Area. by W L Grayden 1956; Council for Aboriginal Rights Report on Select Committee Report 1957; Hunt and Die: Prospect for Aborigines of Australia by M M Bennett. 1950; Report on Aborigines in Australia by Jessie Street, 1957.

Correspondents include: Anti-Slavery Society (London); G T Rogers (Ministry of Supply, London re Woomera Range); Hume Dow (Melbourne); S Andrews (Council for Aboriginal Rights, Northcote)


New Guinea, 1954 - 1960 (File DCL 56/8)

Comprises: Correspondence and press cutting re sentencing of natives for killing of Australian patrol officers in Telefomin area 1954-1955.

Correspondents include: C W W Greenidge (Anti Slavery Society, London) and J S Murray (Australia House).

Press cutting re abolition of death penalty and sentencing for tribal killings, 1957.

Press cutting re independence, 1960.


Subseries DCL 56/10. Repressive Legislation in the Dominions. 2 Files, 1952

Correspondence and Memorandum (File DCL 56/10(a))

Correspondence and memoranda re NCLL Memorandum on Repressive Legislation in the Dominions, 1952

Includes comment on: New Zealand Police Offences Bill, Coroners Act, Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Act and Union Funds Distribution Act, and Australian Communist Party Disolution Bill, and Conciliation and Arbitration Act.

Correspondents include: Harold Rich (Sydney); Jack Churton (Wellington); Brian Fitzpatrick (Melbourne); Keith Digby (Westerham, Kent); W H Pearson (A-NZ C.L. Society, London)


Series DCL 57. Malaya, 1946 - 1957

6 items

Filmed selectively.

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reels M2658-M2659.

Malaya Press Cuttings, 1946 - 1948 (File DCL 57/1)

Covering letters from Malayan Democratic Union (Singapore) with comments on political situation, trade unions, civil rights.

Includes copy of 1 April 1947. Sir George Maxwell (Worthing) to Tan Cheng Lock re Malayan Union and constitutional situation.

Malaya. General File, 1949 - 1953 (File DCL 57/3)

Correspondence, press cuttings and memoranda re civil liberties in Malaya.

Includes: censorship, communism, concentration camps, arrest of John Eber in Singapore.

Correspondents include: Mrs Phaihaan Wee (London); Colonial Office; M Baker (President, Malayan Students Union, London); C Leslie Hale, MP (London).

Includes: memorandum on Violation of Human Rights by British Military and Police authorities. n.d.


Malaya. Cases of John Eber, Liew Yit Fun etc., 1952 - 1956 (File DCL 57/4)

Correspondence, press cuttings, publications and memoranda re arrest of John Eber and Liew Yit Fun.

Correspondents include: Colonial Office; John Eber (London); H B Lim (London).

Publications include: Malayan Monitor vol 9 no. 3, 1956; Gerald De Cruz, Facing the Facts in Malaya UDC. 1952.


Malaya. Case of Lee Tian Tai, 1952 - 1953 (File DCL 57/5)

Correspondence, press cuttings and memoranda re Lee Tian Tai sentenced to death in Perak.

Correspondents include: British Prime Minister's Office; Colonial Office; G R Cross (Lee Tian Tai Defence Committee, London).


Malaya. Press Cuttings, 1954 - 1957 (File DCL 57/6)

Press cutting from Guardian, Times, Daily Worker re civil liberties.


Series DCL 61. West Indies; Far East, 1951 - 1957

3 items

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M2659.

Sarawak, 1952 - 1955 (File DCL 61/9)

Correspondence, press cuttings and notes re situation in Sarawak and closure of Chinese School.

Correspondents include: A Webb (Webb Imports, Kuching); Stephen Yong (Sarawak); Mark Morrison and Co. (Solicitors, Kuching)

Includes: copy of petition to governor re closure of Chung Hua Chinese School and schedule of particulars of the grounds on which it is proposed to close school.


Singapore, 1951 - 1957 (File DCL 61/11)

Correspondence and press cuttings re trials and death of Hsueh Yung Shu in prison.

Correspondents include: H B Lim (London); Colonial Office.


Fiji, 1955 - 1957 (File DCL 61/13)

Correspondence and press cuttings re Indians in Fiji, deportation of Jack Thornton; racial discrimination in Suva.

Correspondents include: W T Williams MP (London); A L Bryden (Solicitor, London); Colonial Office.


Series DCL 63. Freedom Of Speech, 1958

1 item

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M2659.

Censorship of Books in Australia, 1958 (File DCL 63/6)

Press cuttings from Times re censorship.


Series DCL 69. Refugees (Aliens), 1938

1 item

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M2659.

Deputation to F.O. and High Commissioners for Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa re German refugees from Sudeten area of Czechoslovakia, 1938 (File DCL 69/1)

Correspondence, draft, circulars, memos.

Correspondents include: W J Jordan (High Commissioner for New Zealand, 18 October 1938); V C Duffy (Australian High Commission, 14 October 1938); Foreign Office.


Series DCL 76. Archives, 1939 - 1941

3 items

Filmed selectively.

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M2659.

Subseries DCL 76/2. Duplicated Circulars, 1939 - 1941

N.C.C.L. 'Civil Liberty in the Colonial Empire'. National Delegate Conference, 1941 (File Box (b))


Report on constitution, land tenure, native unrest, judicial organisation

Series DCL 77. Archives, 1942 - 1947

2 items

Filmed selectively.

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M2659.

Subseries DCL 77/2. Duplicated Circulars, 1942 - 1947

2 items
Information sheet of Malaya N.C.C.L. 7p., 1946 (File)

Reports on effects of Japanese invasion, British Military administration, growth of democratic organisations

Series DCL 78. Archives, 1948-1952, 1957

2 items

Filmed selectively.

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M2659.

Subseries DCL 78/2. Duplicated Circulars, 1948 - 1955

2 items
Statement on Civil Liberties in Australia. 1p, 9 May 1950 (File)

R.e. proposal to dissolve the Communist Party.

Bans are Best: public entertainment a la mode victorienne. 2p, July 1951 - August 1951 (File)

R.e. Victorian legislation on the theatre.

Series DCL 150. Colonial, 1946 - 1956

7 items

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reels M2659-M2660.

Australia. Rocket Bomb Test, 1946 - 1947 (File DCL 150/1)

Correspondence and press cuttings re rocket testing and rights of Indigenous Australians.

Correspondents include: M M Bennet (London); Charles Duguid (including copy of letter to News Adelaide); Reginald Bridgeman (Pinner)


Australian Aboriginals, 1949 - 1956 (File DCL 150/2)

Correspondence, publications and press cuttings on Indigenous Australians.

Correspondents include: Mollie Bayne (Melbourne); H Rich (Sydney); David Lomax (Church Missionary Society); Prof. V G Childe (London); Thomas White (High Commission, London); Shirley Andrews (Melbourne); Charles Duguid (Adelaide).

Publications include: Australia-New Zealand Civil Liberties Society Statement on Indigenous Australians n.d.: The Aborigines of Australia by Charles Duguid, Anti-Slavery Society, 1954; The Aborigines of Darwin and the Tropical North by Charles Duguid, n.d.; Hunt and Die by M M Bennett, Anti-Slavery Society, 1950.


Black Chattels by G Parsons or duplicate publications originally in this Sub-Series were not filmed by the AJCP

Australia. Bill to Dissolve Communist Party, 1950 - 1951 (File DCL 150/3)

Correspondence, publications and press cuttings re Communist Party.

Correspondents include: W F Lyons (London); E J Harrison (Australian High Commission); Dingle Foot (London).

Publications include: A Public Remonstrance. Australian Council for Civil Liberties, 1950; A Bill for a Police State: Report by A.C.C.L. 1950; Memorial addressed to members of the Commonwealth Parliament by A.C.C.L., 2 June 1950.


Australia. Freedom of Travel, 1950 - 1952 (File 150/4)

Correspondence and press cuttings re impounding of passports of Australian delegates to Warsaw Peace Congress.

Correspondents include: Eric J Harrison (Australia House); D Cusack (London)

Includes: report by W B Anderson on Proceedings at Colmar. 15 October 1951.


Australia. Queensland Civil Liberties League, 1952 (File DCL 150/5)

Correspondence and memoranda on the Q.C.L.L.

Correspondents include: Ross Anderson (Toowong); G R Cochrane (Brisbane).


Australia. Films, 1953 (File DCL 150/6)

Correspondence and publications re censorship of films.

Correspondents include: Brian Fitzpatrick (Melbourne); Clifton Ackroyd (London); T Bruce McCall (Sydney).

Publications include: Realist Film News Jan 1953, (Melbourne). Nov-Dec 1952. Realist Film Association (Melbourne) leaflets.


Australia and New Guinea, 1948 (File DCL 150/7)

Correspondence and press cuttings re death penalty in New Guinea and Aboriginals in Australia, publication of Wallace Letters.

Correspondents include: L S Wilson (Barbados); K T Fowler (Australia-NZ Civil Liberties Society, London); Mrs Jane Wallace (Melbourne).


Series DCL 154. Countries, 1947 - 1965

5 items

Filmed selectively.

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M2660.

Australia Aboriginals, 1959 - 1965 (File DCL 154/2)

Press cuttings on Aborigines. 17p

Printed publications.

Printed publications originally appearing in this Sub-Series were not filmed by the AJCP.

Malaya, 1947 - 1962 (File DCL 154/13)

Comprises: Malaya's constitution. N.C.C.L. Report, 1947. 5p Press cutting re Sarawak Times. 22 January 1962.


New Zealand, 1962 - 1965 (File DCL 154/16)

Comprises: Richard Thompson. Background to Race Relations in NZ, 1963.

Press cuttings from Times, Guardian.


Civil Liberty Bodies, 1957 - 1962 (File DCL 154/25)

2 items

Archival History

Filmed selectively.

Government Gazette originally part of this Sub-Series was not filmed by the AJCP.

Mrs N Schooling (Singapore) to N.C.C.L. re formation of civil rights group in Singapore and conditions in Singapore. (2p.), 2 August 1957 (Item)
Reply, 24 October 1957 (Item)

Series DCL 315. Censorship, 1967 - 1972

4 items

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M2661.

'OZ' 4 Files, 1967 - 1972 (File DCL 315/1)

4 items

Press cuttings from Times, Daily Telegraph etc and press statements by N.C.C.L. 185p

Press cuttings from provincial papers. 80p

Correspondence from the British public regarding N.C.C.L. stand on the Oz trial. 79p

Press cuttings, N.C.C.L. statements and OZ (school kids issue) 110p

Series DCL 357. International, 1957 - 1972

2 items

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M2661.

Australia, 1957 - 1972 (File DCL 357/1)

Correspondence, publications notices including: 1st Australian Convention; Councils for Civil Liberties, Sydney 1968; symposium on Indigenous Australians and black Australians. ICA 1972; A.B.J.A.B. circulars and leaflets.

Correspondents include: W B Fisse (Adelaide); A H Dodd (Perth); Gordon Jackson (Sydney); Ken Buckley (Sydney).

Copies of Peacemaker and Civil Liberty which originally appearing in this Sub-Series were not filmed by the AJCP.


Series DCL 358. International, 1971 - 1973

1 item

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M2661.

Malaysia and Singapore, 1971 - 1973 (File DCL 358/4)

Comprises: circular letters re situation in Malaysia: including 'Resolutely uphold the correct stand' 1973 and Malaysians and Singaporeans for a Democratic society. 1971.