The Australiana Collections comprise books, serials, newspapers and pamphlets published in Australia, on Australian subjects, or by an Australian author.

The principal Australian collection originated from books that were formerly on the Library’s open shelves and added to over time. This extensive repository forms the hub of the Australiana collections, and comprises materials published before 1900 that were previously held in the University of Melbourne’s original library collections, along with facsimile and fine art editions published after 1900. It is a rich and representative general collection, with strengths in subject areas such as exploration, natural history, literature and early narratives of colonial life.

Book cover with blue background, illustration of a men with 'Voss' in yellow lettering

McLaren Collection

The personal library of Ian F. McLaren (1912–2000), former Liberal Party MP for Bennetswood, was acquired by the University in 1976. An enthusiastic bibliographer, McLaren assembled a large library reflecting his interests in the world of politics. Initially numbering some 34,000 books, serials, newspapers, pamphlets, parliamentary papers and ephemera, the collection has grown to approximately 50,000 volumes through further generous donations from McLaren.

The collection is exceptionally rich and comprehensive, with a particular emphasis on Australian politics, Australian exploration, history, anthropology and literature and approximately 1,400 children’s books published in Australia. It also includes significant material on New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the South Pacific, and Antarctica.

Early settler scene, river in New South Wales with sailing ships

Grimwade Collection

Originally belonging to Sir Russell and Lady Grimwade, this collection was bequeathed to the University in 1973 as part of the larger bequest of the Miegunyah estate. Numbering around 1,000 volumes, it predominately consists of works relating to the history, exploration, anthropology, and natural history of Australia. It includes significant late 18th- to early 19th-century editions of fine early plate books, and important botanical works, such as Grimwade’s publications on eucalypts.

Joyce Thorpe Nicholson Collection

Joyce Thorpe Nicholson (1919-2011) was the daughter of publisher D.W. Thorpe and active in the women’s movement and the Australian publishing industry for many years. She authored over 25 books, many focusing on women’s issues. This collection is a major repository of books by and about Australian women. It includes rare 19th century material and 20th century political ephemera.

Other named and significant collections

  • Bellinghausen-Natouralis Papers

    Compiled by Vladimir (Waldemar) Frantsovich Bellinghausen-Natouralis (1885-1973) and his younger brother Rostislav Bellinghausen-Natouralis (1900-1986), Russian immigrants to Australia, this collection includes correspondence, family photographs, legal documents, and ephemera. These document the life of Russian immigrants before and after moving to Australia. The collection also includes Russian and French military medals c.1890-1945, and three photograph albums given to Vladimir F. Bellinghausen-Natouralis in France before he settled in Australia.

  • Marshall Browne Collection

    Marshall Browne (1935-2014) was born in Melbourne and worked as a banker in Australia, Hong Kong, England, and Bhutan. Whilst living in Hong Kong from 1974-81, he started writing crime fiction in his spare time, including a trilogy set in Melbourne in the 1880s. The Marshall Browne Collection consists of original drafts of his novels, research material, articles and reviews, and unpublished manuscripts.

  • Communist Party Collection

    This extensive collection of books, serials, pamphlets, and newspapers was acquired from the Victorian branch of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) when it disbanded in 1990 and incorporates the contents of the CPA’s former Marx School library. The CPA’s archival records are held in the University of Melbourne Archives.

  • Joan Goodwin Collection

    Joan Goodwin (Finger) (1912?-1998) was an organiser among the unemployed during the Great Depression and remained active in the Communist Party of Australia and other left-wing organisations throughout her life. This collection was mainly gathered from Victorian sources and includes left-wing political ephemera such as handbills, bulletins, information sheets and flyers from a wide range of political and community organizations. Additional material from Joan Goodwin can be found in the University of Melbourne Archives.

  • Sir Robert Menzies Collection

    Books and photographs from the personal library of Sir Robert Gordon Menzies (1894-1978), Prime Minister of Australia from 1939-1941 and 1949-1966. The collection is both personal and working library: it includes gifts from family members and friends as well as material relating to Menzies’ career from barrister to Prime Minister. Spanning his life from schooldays to retirement, the collection also incorporates books belonging to his father James Menzies, his wife Dame Pattie Menzies and other family members. For more information see The Robert Menzies Collection website.

  • Lonely Planet Collection

    Comprises a complete set of all publications by Australian travel publishers Lonely Planet: approximately 1,300 volumes including every edition of each title published from 1973-2006. The collection incorporates various sub-series such as city guides and maps, food guides, language guides and phrase books, and travellers’ tales. Most items are in pristine condition and some include annotations for projected revised editions. The collection traces Lonely Planet ‘s development from guides to broad geographic regions to those exploring individual countries and charts the growth of tourism and changes in political and social structure since the 1970s.

  • Peace Council Collection

    Comprises books, pamphlets, periodicals, correspondence and press cuttings relating to Australian left-wing politics, particularly the Peace Movement during the late 1940s and 50s. During this period Dr Murray-Smith was National Organising Secretary for the Australian Peace Council. This collection provides valuable documentation of the organisation over this period.

  • Paul and Barbara Ratzer Papers Collection

    Comprises correspondence, diaries, notebooks, travel documents, cards and photographs from the late Paul and Barbara Ratzer, Russian emigres who arrived in Australia in 1939. A major component of the collection are the diaries kept by Barbara Ratzer from 1919-26 during the Russian Civil War and the couple’s subsequent exile in Persia. All the material is in Russian and spans 1919-1960s. The collection is not yet available via the library catalogue. For further information see the digitised Paul and Barbara Ratzer Papers Collection.

  • Romance Fiction Collection

    A comprehensive holding of paperback fiction by predominantly Australian, and New Zealand romance novelists from the 1960s onwards, from publishers including Mills and Boon, Silhouette and the Women’s Weekly Library. Titles published before 2008 are not yet available via the library catalogue. For further information see The Romantic Fiction Collection and Dolly Fiction list.

  • Greig Smith Social Work History Collection

    Early works on social welfare and social work by Greig Smith (1884-1970) It includes books, journals and pamphlets published from the 1890s to the 1950s, and bound sets of serials including the Charity Organisation Review and The Family.

  • Douglas Taylor Collection

    A collection of pulp and popular fiction comprising almost 5,000 paperbacks and pulp digests published in Australia between the 1940s and the 1980s. The collection ranges across all genres of popular fiction and sensationalised non-fiction, including crime, war, science fiction, westerns, romance, and erotica.

  • John Willis Gay and Lesbian Fiction Collection

    John Willis was born in Melbourne in 1931; a former retailer, early gay activist, and bibliophile, he collected books for over 40 years. This collection comprises an extensive survey of Gay and Lesbian fiction, biographies, art books, non-fiction sexual studies, and other literature dealing with themes of, or references to, homosexuality – particularly those published in Australia.