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Missing: Curtin’s wartime correspondence with Churchill

by Missing Archives and Heritage

He grew up in a tiny South Australian town famous for its rodeo, but historian Robin Prior has made his career roping in the myths proliferating around Australia’s war efforts. His huge new undertaking, however, is being hampered by cuts to our national archives, and politicians’ priorities which favour hagiography over history.

The historian has been able to access Churchill’s correspondence thanks to the work of an obscure American college, based in Michigan, which has published all of Churchill’s documents in a series of volumes: 22 in total, each running to 1500 closely typed pages.

What Robin Prior has been struggling to get hold of since March this year is Curtin’s side of the documents. The history professor lays the blame for that squarely on years of cuts to the National Archives.

“They must be here [in Australia], but where they are is in some doubt. The National Archives have a catalogue of the Curtin papers. I can’t find them in that. Neither can their representative in Adelaide find them.

“This isn’t the archives’ fault, this is something that has been done to them. There are documents in Canberra that I think are moulding, literally, away in the archives because there is no money to restore them to a decent state.”

 

Read more: InDaily, 28 July 2021

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