Guide to the Papers of Professor Arthur Berriedale Keith (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Keith, Arthur Berriedale
Papers of Professor Arthur Berriedale Keith (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1901 - 1939
Collection Number
15 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

Colonial Office correspondence 1910-14 including letters of Sir Charles Lucas, Sir Gerald Strickland, Sir Thomas Carmichael, Lord Chelmsford, Sir William MacGregor, Lord Liverpool, A. Deakin and Sir Joseph Ward.

Correspondence 1908-39 on constitutional issues such as: relations between Colonial Office and governors; Imperial federation; conscription referendum; possible abolition of State governors; industrial disputes; proposed abolition of Legislative Councils; appointment of Sir Isaac Isaacs as Governor-General of Australia; dismissal of J.T. Lang as New South Wales Premier; and Western Australian secession movement.

Letters 1911-18 from Keith to A.V. Dicey on constitutional issues, such as: relations between Britain and dominions; appeals to Privy Council; role of monarch in Empire; and interpretation of the Australian Constitution.

Literary and general correspondence 1915-40 referring to Keith's publications, thesis by Walter Murdoch on A. Deakin, and general constitutional matters. Correspondents include J.G. Tucker, Sir James Allen, T.L. Buick, Lord Stanley and Arthur Robinson.

Typescripts 1911-37 by Keith on Australian and Imperial political and constitutional topics, including Statute of Westminster.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh. For more information, contact the Centre for Research Collections [].

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the University of Edinburgh and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the Centre for Research Collections. University of Edinburgh and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: Colonial Office Correspondence, 1901-1914, Papers of Professor Arthur Berriedale Keith (as filmed by the AJCP), Centre for Research. The University of Edinburgh. (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Material selectively filmed at The University of Edinburgh Library, Scotland as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1982 (AJCP Reels: M1678-M1681).

Original microfilm digitised as part of the AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Centre for Research Collections. The University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Collection Reference: Gen. 140-153.

For further information see: Centre for Research Collections. (

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.


Allen, Sir James; Australia: politics and government; Buick, T.L.; Carmichael, Sir Thomas; Conscription in Australia (1916–1917); Constitution: Australia; Deakin, Alfred; Dicey, A.V., Prof.; Foljambe, Sir Arthur W., 2nd Earl of Liverpool; Governorships; Great Britain. Colonial Office; Great Britain: relations with colonies; Historians; Imperial federation; Isaacs, Sir Isaac; Judicial Committee of the Privy Council; Keith, Arthur Berriedale, Prof.; Lang, John T.; Lucas, Sir Charles; Macgregor, Sir William; Murdoch, Sir Walter; New South Wales: politics and government; Officials; Robinson, Sir Arthur; Stanley, Sir Arthur, 5th Baron; Statute of Westminster (1930); Strickland, Sir Gerald; Strikes; Thesiger, Sir Frederick J.N., 1st Viscount Chelmsford; Tucker, J.G.; Ward, Sir Joseph; Western Australia: politics and government


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 263, pp97-98.

Biographical / Historical

Arthur Berriedale Keith (1879-1944). Educated at Royal High School, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University, Oxford University and Inner Temple. Official in Colonial Office, 1901-14, including Secretary to Crown Agents for Colonies 1903-5. Professor of Sanskrit and Comparative Philology, Edinburgh University, 1914-44, Lecturer on Constitution of British Empire, Edinburgh University, 1927-44. Author of many works on Sanskrit linguistics and philosophy and on British and imperial constitutional history and theory, including Responsible government in the Dominions (1909, revised 1912, 1928), Imperial unity and the Dominions (1916), The Sovereignty of the British Dominions (1929), The constitutional law of the British Dominions (1933) and The Governments of the British Empire (1935).

Item Descriptions

Series Gen. 140. Colonial Office correspondence, 1901 - 1914

Correspondents include A.V.Dicey, Sir Charles Lucas, E. im Thurm. (1907), A. Deakin (1907), Sir Thomas Carmichael (1908-9), Sir Gerald Strickland (1908-9), W.P. Reeves (1908), Sir William MacGregor (1909), Lord Chelmsford (1909), A. Atlee Hunt (1909) and Sir Joseph Ward (1909).

(206 items)

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M1678

Series Gen. 141. Colonial Office correspondence, 1901 - 1914

Correspondents include A.V. Dicey, Sir Gerald Strickland (1909-12), Sir Thomas Carmichael (1909-12), Lord Dudley (1909), Sir George Reid (1910), Sir Joseph Ward (1910-11), Lord Chelmsford (1911-12), Sir John Fuller (1911), Sir Samuel Way (1911), Sir William MacGregor (1910-11), D. Bosanquet (1910-11), and Lord Liverpool (1912).

(484 items)

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M1678

Series Gen. 142. Colonial Office correspondence, 1901 - 1914

Correspondents include Sir Charles Lucas, A.V. Dicey, Sir Gerald Strickland (1912-14), Sir William MacGregor (1912-13), Lord Liverpool (1912-14), Lord Chelmsford (1913), Sir Henry Galway (1913-14), Lord Carmichael. (1913-14), T.A. Coghlan (1913-14), Sir Ronald Munro-Ferguson (1914), Sir Arthur Stanley (1914), A. Fisher (1914) and G.F. Pearce (1914).

(477 items)

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M1680

Series Gen. 143. Correspondence about constitutional issues, 1908 - 1939

6 items

Archival history

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M1681

Private letters AKB, 1916 to 1917, 1916 - 1917 (File Gen. 143/4)

Correspondents include Sir Ronald Munro-Ferguson (1916), Sir Arthur Stanley (1916-17), Sir Gerald Strickland (1916-17), G.C. Wade (1917), Sir James Burns (1917) and A.V. Dicey (1917). They deal with Commonwealth-State relations, relations between the Colonial Office and governors, Imperial federation, republicanism in Australia, the future of the German colonies, Australia's relations with the United States, Australian electoral systems, Australian politics, conscription referendum, W.M. Hughes, tariffs, 1916 coal strike, 1917 general strike, recall of Sir Gerald Strickland in 1917, proposed abolition of Queensland Legislative Council, possible abolition of State Governors, Sir Ronald Munro-Ferguson, and the travels of governors.

(98 items)

Queensland, Australia (File 143/5)

Correspondence and cuttings concerning appointments to the Queensland Legislative Council, the petition urging the disallowance of the 1920 Brisbane Tramway Purchase Act, the mission to Britain led by Sir Robert Philp seeking the annulment of the 1920 Queensland Land Act (Amendment) Bill, and the letters to the Times by Keith and E.G. Theodore on constitutional questions. The correspondents include Sir Arthur Stanley and H. Beeton, Chairman of the Brisbane Electric Tramway Investment Company.

(80 items)

Commonwealth topics 1: Australia, Bahamas, Canada, 1925 - 1933 (File 143/6)

Correspondence concerning the knighthood conferred on D.G. Gordon of South Australia (1925), the proposed abolition of the N.S.W. Legislative Council (1926), Trethowan's Case (1931), the appointment of Sir Isaac Isaacs as Governor-General (1931), the Western Australian secession movement (1931-35), the dismissal of J.T. Lang (1932), and relations between the United Australia Party and the Country Party (1933). The correspondents include G. Gilmour, F. Watson, F.W. Tonkin, D. Maughan, J.R. Brinkley, T. Darbyshire, J.G. Latham and S.M. Bruce.

(79 items)

Private letters ABK, 1910-1918/1908-1938, 1908 - 1928 (File 143/7)

Correspondents include Sir Thomas Carmichael, Sir Gerald Strickland, W.S.B. Hamilton, Sir Day Bosanquet and Sir Arthur Stanley. They deal with the role of State governors, Commonwealth-State relations, Victorian politics and the 1909 dissolution, honours, British politics, constitutional disputes, Lord Dudley, Sir Ronald Munro-Ferguson, Sir John Madden, W.A. Watt and Sir Gerald Strickland, 1908-19.

(37 items)

Commonwealth topics: List inside. Literary 3, 1912 - 1932 (File 143/9)

12 items

Filmed selectively.

Keith to J. Christie, 28 May 1929 (Item 30)

Status of aliens in New Zealand.

J. Christie (Wellington) to Keith, 2 May 1929 (Item 31)

Status of aliens in New Zealand.

G. Scholefield (Wellington) to Keith, 14 January 1929 (Item 33)

References to New Zealand in Responsible government in the Dominions.

F.W.S. Cumbrae-Stewart (Brisbane) to Keith, 30 August 1929 (Item 42)

1859 Order-in Council concerning Queensland.

F.W.S. Cumbrae-Stewart to Keith, 17 May 1929 (Item 43)

References to Queensland in Responsible government in the Dominions.

Keith to Lord Chelmsford, 11 September 1912 (Item 44)

Dissolution granted to R. Philp in 1907.

Lord Chelmsford (Sydney) to Keith, 6 August 1912 (Item 45)

Treatment of Queensland crisis in Responsible government in the Dominions.

Correspondence with Sir Thomas Inskip referring to assent given to money bill in 1925 by Lieutenent-Governor of Tasmania, 1932 (Item 79-84)
F. Edwards (Ulverstone) to Keith, 25 October 1928 (Item 86)

Appropriation Act.

F. Edwards to Keith, 18 October 1928 (Item 87)

References to Tasmania money disputes in 1924-25 and 1926 Constitution Act in Responsible government in the Dominions.

J.H. Keating (Melbourne) to Keith, 20 November 1926 (Item 89)

Tasmanian constitutional crisis of 1924-25.

Keith to J.H. Keating, 4 January 1927 (Item 90)

Invalidity of Tasmanian Finance Bills.

Dicey Correspondence, 1911-1915, 1911 - 1918 (File 144/2)

Letters from Keith to A.V. Dicey, 1911-18. They deal with treaties affecting self-governing Dominions, Imperial Federation, reserve powers, the power of Dominion Parliaments to repeal Imperial Acts, relations between Britain and the Dominions, appeals to the Privy Council, fiscal powers of the Dominions, Imperial Conferences, the role of the monarch in the Empire, the Dominions military and naval forces, interpretation of the Australian Constitution, protective tariff in New Zealand, New Zealand flag, and Dicey's Conflict of laws.

(52 items)

Series Gen. 145. Literary and general correspondence, 1911 - 1940

4 items

Archival history

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M1681

Literary General, 1916 - 1934 (File 145/1)

10 items

Filmed selectively.

Lord Bledisloe (Wellington) to Keith, 20 June 1934 (Item 11)

Sends pamphlet containing speeches; value of Constitutional law of British Dominions.

J.G. Latham (Canberra) to Keith, 17 December 1932 (Item 19)

Acknowledges copy of Speeches and documents on British Dominions, 1918-31.

S.M. Bruce (London) to Keith, 24 October 1932 (Item 22)

Thanks for Speeches and documents.

E. Page (Canberra) to Keith, 22 July 1932 (Item 29)

Launching of Federal Reconstruction Movement in Sydney.

F.W. Tonkin (London) to Keith, 23 February 1932 (Item 34)

Wishes to meet Keith.

Prof. A.H. Charteris (Sydney) to Keith, 6 July 1929 (Item 66)

Sends W.A. Holman's lectures on Australian Constitution; Royal Commission on Constitution.

A.B. Keith. Report on thesis entitled 'A survey of the legal and constitutional history of New Zealand' (2 pp.) (Item 74)
Sir James Allen (Wellington) to Keith, 30 August 1928 (Item 75)

Keith's book on Dominions; debates in New Zealand Parliament on nationality and naturalization.

Sir James Burns (Sydney) to Keith, 3 July 1916 (Item 127)

Acknowledges book Imperial unity and Dominions; Sir Ronald Munro-Ferguson.

Sir Gerald Strickland (Sydney) to Keith, 13 June 1916 (Item 128)

Acknowledges Imperial unity and Dominions.

Literary Work, 1914-1924, 1915 - 1923 (File 145/2)

33 items

Filmed selectively.

J.G. Tucker (Sydney) to Keith, 30 August 1923 (Item 26)

Report on thesis on A. Deakin by Prof. W. Murdoch.

H. Neale (London) to Keith, 25 July 1923 (Item 29)

Cable about J.G. Tucker's report.

H. Neale to Keith, 23 July 1923 (Item 30)

Cable about J.G. Tucker's report.

Keith to H. Neale, 24 July 1923 (Item 31)

Thesis by Prof. W. Murdoch.

Addison (Melbourne) to Keith, 5 June 1923 (Item 37)

Thesis by Prof. W. Murdoch.

Keith to Addison, 16 July 1923 (Item 38)

Opposes award of B. Litt for thesis.

Addison to Keith, 24 May 1923 (Item 47)

Appointment of T.G. Tucker as co-examiner.

Keith to T.G. Tucker, 3 July 1923 (Item 48)

Thesis by Prof. W. Murdoch.

A.B. Keith. Report on W. Murdoch. 'Alfred Deakin, a sketch'. (3 pp.) (Item 49)
T.B. Tucker (Brisbane) to Registrar, 21 May 1923 (Item 50)

Thesis by Prof. W. Murdoch (copy)

Alice Evans to Keith, 4 April 1923 (Item 60)

New Zealand views on need for common foreign policy within Empire.

Registrar to Keith, 1 March 1923 (Item 62)

Examiner for Murdoch's thesis.

Registrar to Keith, 21 February 1923 (Item 63)

Thesis of Prof. W. Murdoch.

A. Robinson (Melbourne) to Keith, 3 October 1922 (Item 74)

Introduces Owen Dixon.

A. Robinson to Keith, 23 March 1922 (Item 88)

Appeals to Privy Council on constitutional cases.

A. Robinson to Keith, 12 December 1921 (Item 111)

Appeals to Privy Council.

R. Crouch (Melbourne) to Keith, 7 July 1921 (Item 113)

Errors in Government of the British Dominions.

A. Atkinson (Wellington) to Keith, 7 May 1921 (Item 117)

Status of Dominions; W.F. Massey.

Keith to A. Atkinson, 5 July 1921 (Item 118)

Imperial Conference; Anglo-Japanese Treaty.

Keith to H. Asquith, 11 October 1920 (Item 131)

Dominions and Royal Navy.

Keith to Sir James Allen, 8 November 1920 (Item 138)

Thanks for lecture on mandates question and Western Samoa.

Sir James Allen (London) to Keith, 5 November 1920 (Item 140)

Thanks for notes on mandates.

A.B. Keith Notes on mandates. (5 pp.) (Item 141)
Sir James Allen to Keith, 11 October 1920 (Item 142)


J. Starling (Melbourne) to Keith, 27 July 1920 (Item 146-47)

Correction in Commonwealth Hansard re 1914 double dissolution.

Lord Stanley to Keith, 26 March 1920 (Item 152)

Australian vice-regal appointments; A. Robinson; W.A. Holman.

Lord Stanley to Keith, 19 March 1920 (Item 153)

Colonial Office; selection of Governor-General of Australia.

Keith to Editor, 22 October 1919 (Item 163)

Mandates and Western Samoa.

Keith to Editor, the Times, 9 November 1918 (Item 191)

Complaint of W.M. Hughes re failure to consult Dominions on peace terms.

Keith to [unknown], 1 November 1916 (Item 225)

Australian conscription referendum.

Keith to Editor, the Scotsman, 13 May 1916 (Item 235)

Channels of communication with Dominions.

Keith to A.V. Dicey, 28 February 1915 (Item 236)

Interpretation of Australian Constitution.

A.V. Dicey to Keith, 26 February 1915 (Item 237)

Interpretation of Australian Constitution with reference to United States Supreme Court.

Literary Work, 1936-1938, 1936 - 1938 (File 145/3)

13 items

Filmed selectively.

H. Miller. Report on thesis by N.A. Foden 'The genesis of New Zealand's legal history' (2 pp.), 16 March 1936 (Item 19)
A.B. Keith. Report on thesis by N.A. Foden (6 pp.), 9 May 1936 (Item 21)
H.G. Manning to Keith, 25 June 1936 (Item 25)

Relations between Sovereign and Ministry.

Keith to Sydney Morning Herald, 3 December 1936 (Item 30-31)

Abdication of King Edward VIII.

M. Threlfall to Keith, 4 December 1936 (Item 32)

Acknowledges letter. (cable)

T.L. Buick (Wellington) to Keith, 18 May 1937 (Item 59)

Book on New Zealand sovereignty; question of New Zealand's relations with N.S.W. in 1839.

Keith to T.L. Buick, 29 June 1937 (Item 61)

New Zealand's status in 1839.

T.L. Buick, to Keith, 17 August 1937 (Item 99)

Status of New Zealand in 1839.

Keith to T.L. Buick, 28 September 1937 (Item 101)

New Zealand's status in 1839; Treaty of Waitangi.

Correspondence between Keith and T.L. Buick, 17 November 1937 - December 1937 (Item 107 - 108)


T.L. Buick to Keith (17/11/1937); New Zealand's status in 1839.

Keith to T.L. Buick (12/1937); New Zealand's status in 1839.

A. Stirling (London) to Keith, 26 May 1938 (Item 129)

Australian representation in British embassies.

J. Brinkley (Fremantle) to Keith, 20 December 1938 (Item 156)

Letter from Tasmanian Premier re Statute of Westminster.

Public Affairs, 1939 -1941, 1939 - 1940 (File 145/4)

4 items

Filmed selectively.

A. Stirling (London) to Keith, 17 September 1940 (Item 116)

Relations between Australian naval forces and British Admiralty.

B. Helmore (Newcastle, N.S.W.) to Keith, 12 August 1939 (Item 173)

Controversy re role of Lord Wakehurst in political crisis; B. Stevens; H. Spooner.

A. Stirling to Keith, 12 June 1939 (Item 194-95)

Diplomatic links of Australia with U.S.A. and Japan; Statute of Westminster.

P. Riddick (Wellington) to Keith, 4 April 1939 (Item 202)

Publication of T.L. Buick's book on sovereignty of New Zealand.

Series Gen. 149. Typescripts, 1934 - 1937

1 items

Archival history

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M1681

Typescripts of A.B. Keith, 1934 - 1937 (File 149/2)

9 items

Filmed selectively.

Autonomy in the British Commonwealth (16 pp.), 1937 (Item 14)
Constitutional problems of the British Empire (3 pp.), 1937 (Item 15)
The status of aliens in the British Empire (12 pp.), 1937 (Item 16)
Federal powers in Australia (1 pp.), 1937 (Item 18)
Statute of Westminster and appeals to Privy Council (6 pp.), 1937 (Item 19)
Proper law of contract (2 pp.) (Item 20)
Immigration (Kisch Case) and jurisdiction in matters between residents in different states (2 pp.) (Item 21)
N.S.W. State Transport- (Coordination) Act (2 pp.) (Item 22)
South Australia and letters patent (1pp.), 2 November 1934 (Item 25)

Series Gen. 150. Typescripts, 1911

1 items

Archival history

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M1681

Typescripts of A.B. Keith, 1911 (File 150/4)

2 items

Filmed selectively.

Notes on political situations in N.S.W., Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania (10 pp.), 1911 (Item 14)
Memorandum on Pacific Islands (ie. Solomon Islands) (9 pp.), 1911 (Item 19)