Collection areas

The University of Melbourne Archives collection strengths include the history of the University of Melbourne, its administration, teaching, academics, and students and the personal papers of individuals prominent within the University, business and social movements. Other areas of collection strengths are Victorian and Australian businesses from colonial times into the times into the twenty-first century and social movements including labour, peace, Aboriginal Australian activism, the women’s movement and associated LGBTQIA movements.

Some collections may be restricted or contain sensitive material, this includes Care Leavers records, student cards, and internal University of Melbourne records. Access conditions are listed in the catalogue and more information can be found in the Access Management Framework.

  • Malcolm Fraser collection

    The Malcolm Fraser Collection at the University of Melbourne comprises documents, photographs, books and other material relating to the life, family and career of the Rt Hon. Malcolm Fraser, Prime Minister of Australia from 1975 to 1983.

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  • Australian Red Cross collection

    The Records of the Australian Red Cross at the University of Melbourne include the National Office, and Australian Red Cross Society – Victorian Division.

    A total of 36 series comprising a variety of records including: reports, minutes, administrative correspondence, newsletters, posters, staffing, financial expenditure and photographs will be prized by social and historical researchers, as well as members of the community seeking family history or community group information. The collection is also used to support teaching and learning.

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  • Germaine Greer Archive

    The Germaine Greer Archive at the University of Melbourne comprises documents, photographs, books, magazines and born-digital audio, video and text media that document the life and career of Germaine Greer, a major figure in academic and popular culture in Australia and internationally.

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  • The University of Melbourne Council Minutes
    1853-1901

    The first 12 volumes of minutes are digitised and available online. Search 'UM174'

    1901-1993

    Please search the Archives catalogue: 1994.0086, 2000.0124, 2015.0097, 2016.0104, 2018.0015 and order volumes to view in the Reading Room.

  • The University of Melbourne Registrar's Correspondence

    The registrar's correspondence represents a major proportion of the activities of the University's Central Administration over nearly a century dating 1871-1966. Records relate to subjects and services such as accommodation, accounts, University council, matriculation and arrangements for exams, schools, academic departments and curricula, regulations and statutes, and so on.

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  • Bright Family Papers

    Originally trading out of Bristol, the Bright and Meyler families activities subsequently expanded across the United Kingdom, Europe, Africa, North and South America, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand. The Bright family were heavily involved in the trade of sugar between Jamaica and the United Kingdom in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Their activities in this capacity included the purchase and management of sugar plantations and livestock pens, the shipment of cargo between Jamaica and Bristol, participation in the slave trade, including the purchase and shipment of slaves, and the establishment and running of stores trading in imported goods and purchasing sugar from local plantations. The family also had other commercial and industrial interests, including mining, banking, ship, railway and canal construction, and landed estates.

    In 1980, the Bright family donated the first of several batches of papers to the University of Melbourne Archives. The papers, with a full digital listing now available online, comprise more than 10,000 items. They include correspondence, accounts, inventories, maps, wills, and indentures, documenting 300 years of the Bright family’s public and private life. The earliest record, a will, was created in 1511. More recent material includes correspondence and family photos from the first half of the 20th century.

    The entire collection has been listed and digitised material is available online.

  • Strathfieldsaye Estate

    The University of Melbourne Archives' per-eminent Gippsland collection is the archive of the Strathfieldsaye Estate, the grazing property on Lake Wellington.

    Harold Clive Disher, who graduated M.B.B.S. in 1916 and M.D. in 1921, having been a student of Ormond College, left his property "Strathfieldsaye", Perry Bridge, Stratford, Victoria, to the University when he died in 1976. The "Strathfieldsaye Estate Bequest" included the land, buildings contents, plant, equipment, stock, cash and securities for the purpose of establishing "The Strathfieldsaye Institute of Teaching and Research in Agriculture and Allied Sciences". Archival records were transferred to the University of Melbourne Archives.

    This collection measures 17 metres of records and documents a century of pastoral settlement in Gippsland. It includes images of Aboriginal peoples at the Ramahyuck Mission run by Reverend Friedrich August Hagenauer on the adjacent property.

  • Foy & Gibson

    Foy & Gibson (also known as Foys) was one of Australia's earliest department store chains, modelled on Le Bon Marché in Paris and other European and American stores of the period. A large range of goods were manufactured and sold by the company including clothing, manchester, leather goods, soft furnishings, furniture, hardware and food. The first store was established as a drapery in Smith Street, Collingwood, Victoria by Mark Foy.

    The Collingwood site grew to become a major building complex. Constructed to the design of renowned architect William Pitt over several decades from 1887, the Foy & Gibson factory complex dominates the area in Collingwood bounded by Stanley, Wellington, Peel and Little Oxford Streets. The factories provided goods for Foy & Gibson department stores and produced men’s clothing and shirts, ladies’ underclothing, millinery, furniture, hardware and bedding. Warehouses stored imported goods, and the complex was a major hub for home delivery, firstly with horse-drawn vehicles and later with motorized trucks. A major source of local employment, the Foy and Gibson factory complex employed around 2000 people in all stages of the production process, from spinning to dispatch and delivery.

    Ownership of this business was transferred to Mark Foy’s son Francis Foy in partnership with Willam Gibson in March 1883. Francis Foy later sold his half share of the business to Gibson and moved to Sydney, establishing Mark Foys there. Gibson established branches of the business in Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide. In 1955, the company was bought out by Cox Brothers, which sold the Foy & Gibson stores in the 1960s.

    Explore the Foy & Gibson Collection and access our digitised catalogues.

  • Geoffrey Bell

    Geoffrey Alan Bell, was born in Melbourne, Australia on February 12, 1944. Bell, who lived with a high level spinal cord injury for 43 years, was an important figure in the development of the disability rights movement in Australia. The movement, which continues, advocated for self-determination, independence, and equality for people with disabilities.

    Bell became disabled as the result of a swimming accident in Geelong in 1965 at just 20 years old, and by the early 1970s he was already an exemplar of self-determination: lobbying for disability rights and public awareness.  Bell was involved in numerous groups and organisations including: DAF (Disability Action Forum), The Attendant Care Coalition, Action for Community Living and the ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions). Bell represented the ACTU on the International Year of Disabled Persons’ national committee in 1981. From the mid-1970s until the early 1980s Bell was employed as a welfare officer at the Western Region Community Health Centre, formerly the Trade Union Clinic, in Footscray. Geoff Bell passed away June 10, 2008 aged 64.

    The Geoffrey Bell records at the University of Melbourne Archives documents the social and political history of the disability rights movement in Australia from the early 1970s until the 2000s.

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  • Yuncken Freeman Architects Pty Ltd

    Yuncken Freeman Architects Pty Ltd (YFA) were an Architectural and planning practice established in Melbourne in 1933. The evolution of YFA largely reflects that of Australian architecture in the mid-to-late 20th century. During this time, Australian designers were experimenting with materials, form and space. They were inspired by the processes of the modernist movement but sought to add their own Australian touch and to bring modernism into the home and not restrict it to just the cultural avant-garde. Yuncken Freeman Architects wound up in 1992.

    A large number of architectural drawings and related documentation, including Sidney Myer Music Bowl, and photographs, both commercial and residential, are digitised and available online, search 'Yuncken Freeman'.

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  • Fletcher Jones Collection

    Fletcher Jones was born in 1895 in Bendigo to a Methodist family of Cornish blacksmiths and joined the Australian army in WWI and fought in Egypt and the Western front in France. After the war he started his manufacturing and retail career selling goods under humble circumstances as a hawker in the Western District of Victoria.

    In 1924 Jones opened his first retail shops in Warrnambool and Hamilton, Victoria and his first ‘Mans Shop’ in 1931. The opening of the ‘Mans Shop’ marked the beginning of a Jones’ long and successful career as a clothing manufacturer.

    In the years after World War II the business expanded rapidly and by the late 1940s there were over a hundred stores in four states. The company’s first Melbourne shop front in Collins Street opened in 1946 and was an immediate hit with customers for its personalised service and attention to detail. It was during these post-war years that Jones built the now heritage listed Pleasant Hill factory and its gardens in Warrnambool to meet demand for his trousers. The factory was the central manufacturing hub for Fletcher Jones & Staff which became one of the first co-operative companies in Australia. Staff were treated like members of the family and shared in company profits. Fletcher Jones’ co-operative business model had been influenced by the inspirational Japanese pioneer of consumer and farmer co-operatives Toyohiko Kagawa. Jones and his son David Jones after him were constantly looking at new and innovative management and technological methods to create efficiencies and increase production; which led to later partnerships with American retail chains and a diversification into women’s fashion in the late 1950s.

    Explore the collection here, here and here.

  • Ritchie Family

    In the mid-19th century, members of many British families set out to take up opportunities in distant lands as prospectors and settlers. One such prospector was James Ritchie who was born in Peebleshire, Scotland who first came to Australia in 1841. Diaries, letterbooks, genealogical documents and watercolours by various family members, in particular James Ritchie (1812-1857) who founded the Ritchie pastoral dynasty, and his brother Daniel (1816-1865) provide insight into nineteenth century life and how the family built and expanded its business.

    The UMA holds a number of collections of significance to Victorian pastoralist history which may also be investigated for the impact of European settlement on Aboriginal peoples. Successive generations of Ritchie family members have contributed to their pastoral interests through the establishment of their business RB Ritchie & Sons Pty Ltd, which specialised in merino stud. Extensive record series provide a window into the world of Western District agricultural and business practice during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as the transportation of convicts to colonial Australia and British suppression of the slave trade.

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Reel Women Poster
Reel Women poster, Artist: Sue Ford, George Paton Gallery collection, University of Melbourne Archives, 1990.0144.00567. This image is in copyright. UMA has published a copy with the permission of the Sue Ford Archive. For information about ordering a copy or reproducing this image contact the University of Melbourne Archives: archives@archives.unimelb.edu.au