History of the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library

1987-01-09 00:00:00

Library proposed to honour John Curtin

As the WA Institute of Technology becomes Curtin University, a memorial library to honour John Curtin is proposed. John Cowdell from the Australian Labor Party offers books and memorabilia previously donated to the Party by John Curtin's family.

1988-10-01 00:00:00

John Curtin Centre proposal

Under the leadership of new Curtin University Vice Chancellor, John Maloney, the proposal grows to a 'John Curtin Centre' comprising a Gallery and (in 1992) an Institute, in addition to the Library.

1989-05-01 00:00:00

John Curtin Centre approval

Curtin University Council gives in principle approval to the John Curtin Centre. In July, after viewing a model of the proposed Centre, Prime Minister Bob Hawke and WA Premier Peter Dowding each pledge funding of $500,000 in initial support.

1991-10-01 00:00:00

John Curtin Centre fundraising

Following an appeal launch by Prime Minister Bob Hawke, fund-raising to build the John Curtin Centre is undertaken nationally and internationally. High profile supporters include ex WA Premier Sir Charles Court, businessmen Sir James Cruthers and Sir Laurence Brodie-Hall and parliamentarians Kim Beazley and John Cowdell.

1993-07-01 00:00:00

JCPML draws inspiration from U.S. presidential libraries

Appointed Curtin University Librarian in late 1992, Vicki Williamson takes a study tour of U.S. presidential libraries - the inspiration for JCPML. But she will need to adapt the U.S. model for Australia.

1993-10-01 00:00:24

John Curtin Centre

Having secured funding from the federal and state governments and donations, Curtin University Council approves the building and remaining funding of the John Curtin Centre, so detailed building plans can be developed.

1994-10-01 00:00:00

Ground-breaking Ceremony

To mark the commencement of construction of the John Curtin Centre, a ground-breaking ceremony is held with the first sod being turned by key supporter, parliamentarian Kim Beazley and Curtin University Chancellor Harry Sorenson. The spades used are still in the JCPML Collection.

1995-01-01 00:00:00

Collection donations begin

While the new JCPML building is under construction, word of the new library spreads. Further donations to the collection are received, including volumes of the "Westralian Worker" edited and annotated by John Curtin.

1995-01-01 00:00:00

John Curtin Centre construction

The site selected for the John Curtin Centre is two hectares of previously largely vacant space on the west of Bentley campus. JCPML and the Gallery occupy a building on the south, linked to the Vice Chancellery on the north via a colonnade.

1995-02-01 00:00:00

Scanning of materials begins

To make material from other libraries available at JCPML, initially they are photocopied or scanned at the owning library/archive.

1996-10-01 00:00:00

Henderson appointed JCPML Archivist

Kandy-Jane Henderson is appointed JCPML Archivist. The small JCPML team work from an office within the University Library's TL Robertson building.

1997-08-01 08:03:36

The Whitlams are given a private tour

Former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and his wife Margaret are keen supporters. They make a private visit to the JCPML building before it is completed.

1997-11-01 13:09:06

The foundation stone is laid

To mark the approaching completion of the John Curtin Centre, a Foundation Stone Laying ceremony is scheduled for May 1997, but has to be delayed due to a pilots' strike. By then Vice Chancellor Maloney had resigned and line management for the JCPML passed to Deputy Vice Chancellor John Milton-Smith.

1998-02-20 00:00:00

JCPML opens to the public

JCPML opens to the public on 20 February 1998. Staff and collections moved in earlier. The Library and the Gallery occupy space on two levels of one of the new John Curtin Centre's buildings. Most Library space is on Level 1, with its exhibition space and a theatrette on Level 2.

1998-02-23 00:00:00

First JCPML Visting Scholar is appointed

From the earliest days of the Library, a JCPML Visiting Scholar is appointed. They are supported in their research and give a public lecture at the end of their tenure.

1998-03-01 00:00:00

The archive begins to fill

The shelves of the specially designed, climate controlled archival storage soon start to fill.

1998-04-01 00:00:00

JCPML holds first exhibition

The first JCPML exhibition "John Curtin: a man of peace; a time of war" opens to the WA public. It had been developed jointly by JCPML and the National Archives of Australia and initially displayed in Canberra in 1995 where it was viewed by Curtin University Librarian Williamson and NAA Director General George Nichols.

1998-07-01 00:00:00

First JCPML Anniversary Lecture is held

Former Prime Minister Whitlam accepts the role of JCPML Patron and delivers the first anniversary lecture at the Library. The lecture is delivered annually in July thereafter, to mark the death of John Curtin shortly before the end of WWII.

1998-08-01 00:00:00

School program is launched

An educational program for primary and secondary school students is developed. Students visit the exhibition and archive, use the collection materials, and perform role-plays about John Curtin's life and times. Country schools can borrow a "Treasure Box" of resources.

1998-09-01 00:00:00

David Black joins the JCPML

Curtin University's Associate Professor David Black, a long-time supporter of the Library, is appointed JCPML Historical Consultant. As of 2020, he still holds this position.

1999-02-01 00:00:00

Electronic Research Archive is launched

The JCPML Electronic Research Archive is launched. A world leader, it provides access to resources on John Curtin regardless of location. It no longer relies on photocopying and scanning, but instead provides seamless links to documents in other collections. Searching is easy and results can be managed in a 'basket'.

1999-06-01 00:00:00

Researcher visits

Although much of the collection is electronic, researchers frequent the building to use it and the JCPML's computers. They can also access physical material and receive research assistance from JCPML staff.

2000-11-01 00:00:00

JCPML foundation staff team win Vice Chancellor's Excel Award

The JCPML foundation staff team wins the Vice Chancellor's Excel Award for bringing the vision of the JCPML to life, innovation, and being a benchmark for similar libraries being developed in Australia. They are also highly commended for the prestigious Australian Society of Archivists' Mander Jones award - which they will go on and win in 2002 and 2005.

2003-05-01 00:00:00

"Shadow of the Eagle" play is held

Until 2013, major exhibitions were mounted on Level 2 of the JCPML every five years, with attendances of 10,000 per year. When replaced, a digital version of each exhibition was made available on the JCPML website. In 2003, a play based on John Curtin's war-time experience is commissioned instead: "Shadow of the Eagle".

2007-10-01 00:00:00

Innovative JCPML website resources are developed

Many popular resources are developed for the JCPML website. One, "The John Curtin Diary", is a compilation of John Curtin's daily work from 1917-1945, based on resources in the JCPML collection. Other innovations include podcasts and live webcasts of popular lectures.

2008-02-01 00:00:00

Lesley Wallace is appointed JCPML Manager

Following the retirement of foundation JCPML Archivist, Kandy-Jane Henderson, Lesley Wallace is appointed Manager of JCPML. With new University Librarian Imogen Garner, she is instrumental in integrating the JCPML more closely with the University Library, particularly in special collections, digital repositories and e-research.

2008-03-01 00:00:00

"The Pursuit of Knowledge" exhibition is held

The new exhibition, "The Pursuit of Knowledge", breaks with tradition by featuring not only John Curtin's experiences with and views on education, but Curtin University's research accomplishments.

2009-01-01 00:00:00

Paul Keating replaces Gough Whitlam as JCPML patron

Finding annual travel to Perth more difficult, Gough Whitlam is replaced as Patron by former Prime Minister Paul Keating, but retains the position and title Foundation Patron.

2012-07-01 00:00:00

"The Fremantle Candidate" play is launched

2010 Visiting Scholar Ingle Knight uses his appointment to research and write a play about John Curtin - "The Fremantle Candidate" - which has a one-week season at Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts in 2012.

2013-02-01 00:00:00

JCPML outreach activities change in response to changing University priorities

To accommodate changing University priorities, major exhibitions and the schools program are discontinued. Other outreach activities, such as the visiting scholar program, continue, with 2013's Visiting Scholar being Toby Davidson, great-grandson of John Curtin.

2014-02-01 00:00:00

Deborah Terry becomes Curtin University Vice-Chancellor

The new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Deborah Terry, notes having used JCPML's electronic research archive to research John Curtin in preparation for her selection interview.

2015-02-01 00:00:00

Julia Gillard becomes new Patron

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard replaces Paul Keating as Patron. She continues the tradition established by Gough Whitlam of Patrons signing the lift in the JCPML building.

2019-10-03 00:00:00

20th JCPML Anniversary Lecture

Anniversary lectures continue to be popular, with presentations from people like Julia Gillard, Stan Grant and Kerry O'Brien. Before each lecture, the presenter is given a tour of the JCPML, including the Kandy Jane Henderson Foyer, named in recognition of the foundation Archivist.

History of the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library

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