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About the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library's Electronic Research Archive (ERA)

The Electronic Research Archive (ERA)

ERA provides access to the JCPML collection of personal papers, photographs, oral histories, copies of official records and other archival material relating to John Curtin. In addition, ERA provides electronic access to John Curtin related materials held in other institutions around the world. The items are presented as:

  • Images (photographs, documents)
  • Full text (contents of documents)
  • Audio and video (oral histories, sound recordings, motion pictures)
  • Finding aids (text containing information about the titles and descriptions of material which has not been digitised)
ERA contains finding aids of material which is not related to John Curtin but which falls into other collection focus areas. The content of items is only digitised if it relates to John Curtin.

Indigenous Australians are advised that ERA may contain images or names of people now deceased.

Collection Themes

John Curtin's life and times

The collection is actively being developed around those aspects of the history and politics of Australia that are most closely connected with the life and work of John Curtin. The collection contains personal papers of John and Elsie Curtin and other Curtin related records and includes ephemera, realia, photographs, audio-visual material, published material and copies of unpublished official records.

Other records include the research papers of respected journalist and economist, Tom Fitzgerald, amassed for his intended biography of Curtin, and the papers of Alex McCallum, WA State Labor parliamentarian and key associate of Curtin. The JCPML also builds the collection by identifying journal articles, oral histories, theses, conference papers, etc of relevance to the collection themes and acquiring copies where appropriate.

Other collection themes

The collection focus of John Curtin's life and times provides a springboard for a range of other themes including the Australian-American relationship, post-war reconstruction, foreign policy, social and political history and the prime ministership as an office, including a focus on the lives and contribution of those directly associated with it such as the spouses and families of prime ministers.

In line with the theme of the prime ministership as an office, Hazel Hawke's papers are lodged with the JCPML. Identifying herself as a West Australian, Hazel Hawke wanted her records to come to a university in her home state.

The collection also contains about 80 metres of records created by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), transferred to the JCPML by the National Archives of Australia and DFAT. These records comprise the working papers accumulated in the course of preparing the 16-volume publication Documents on Australian Foreign policy, 1937-1949. The research potential of these records is significant as only about 10% of the working papers were used in the published volumes and the contents and subjects covered are broad - from war cabinet agenda and minutes to major world events such as Hitler's peace offensive, the fall of France, appeals to Roosevelt, war crimes, refugees, Imperial Defence, League of Nations, post war planning, and Pacific rim events concerning Japan, New Guinea, Timor and US Pacific interests.

Technical Information

Initially ERA went live to the public in February 1999, running on Excalibur Technologies' Electronic Filing System database with RetrievalWare as the public enquiry database.

In 2003 ERA migrated to run on ExLibris' Digitool v2.4. In March 2009, ERA migrated to run on Digitool v3.0.

Digital files within ERA may be text, jpg images, or pdf format.

Audio and video are presented via Curtin University's iLecture site. Video is accessible as Quicktime movies with a choice of bandwidth. Audio is accessible as Quicktime, Flash or Windows Media files. You can listen to the audio in real time or download as podcasts.

High bandwidth streaming videos on the JCPML web pages are best viewed with a fast internet connection, preferably ADSL or greater. Poor performance may be experienced with a 56k modem.

Contribution of the National Archives of Australia

The JCPML acknowledges the very significant contribution of the National Archives of Australia in digitising Curtin related Commonwealth records held in its collections and in facilitating access via ERA to the digitised items on the NAA's online database RecordSearch.

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