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National Archives of Australia
A463, 1957/34 PART 1

‘Prime Minister’s Department archives - Requests by research workers for access 1953-1958’

File viewed: 15 April 2016

Correspondence relating to requests by various researchers to access records of the PMs Department.

Mostly correspondence with/from the Archives Division of the CNL.

Researchers include:

  • Sol Encel on history of Cabinet

10 December 1953, AD McKnight to Encel

‘Dear Sol…’

‘As you are aware there is no co-ordinated policy in Australia on access to official documents and only on rare occasions has permission been given for access to Cabinet papers…’

24 December 1953, HL White to Sec PMs (attn Mr Gilfedder).

Encloses an agreement used with a previous research student:

‘This agreement was not drawn up with legal advice but was intended at the time as a moral rather than a legal undertaking.’

Draft of aggreement – Photograph.

31 December 1952, D Gilfedder (PMs) to McKnight.

‘We could ask Sol for a final copy of his thesis to be submitted to the Department through the National Librart at the same time as the original to the University. This would enable us to suppress anything contrary to the Departmental view. A draft form more moral than legal in its value might be used beforSol begins his work…’

Lots of detailed to-ing and fro-ing about what Encel might be allowed to see.

7 May 1954, Note for Gilfedder from [McKnight?]

‘In your approach you should be guided by the following principles:
1) Err on the side of conservatism
2) Tend to make available in the first instance only the oldest of the files
3) Keep in mind as a criteria his subject
4) I do not think we have any right to make available files of personal correspondence Lyons Bruce Deane [added in pencil] or any sensational political material
5) No matters relating to Governor-General

I think you had better let me do some daily check of material before making it available to him…


Correspondence relating to Mr Penny from ANU researching Australia’s relationship with New Hebrides.

Correspondence relating to Miss Rechter, MA student Melb Uni, researching Waterside Workers strike of 1928.

EA Boehm (New England Uni College) researching depressions of 1890s and 1930s.

4 January 1954, handwritten note by D Gilfedder on White’s memo about Boehm’s request for access:

‘…Boehm is I believe a good type + will agree to the usual conditions.’

PMs staff, particularly Gilfedder, obviously spending a lot of time checking files.

4 February 1955, Sol Encel to Mr Cumming, PMs

‘Mr Gilfedder was kind enough to work overtime while I was in Canberra recently in order to check some papers for me…’

23 March 1955, White to Sec, PMs.

Relating to Thomas R Pickering, a Fulbright Scholar studying at Melb Uni, researching history of EA.

‘I judge him to be a bona fide student and a person of integrity.’

Note by Gilfedder attached:

‘McKenna thought that Pickering might look at file about “White Australia” Policy.

19 Septemeber 1955, Memo by I Maclean for Sec PMs.

Note about ‘secret and confidential’ files in those requested by Encel.


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