Prime Minister of Australia 1941 – 1945, after whom Curtin University is named.
John Curtin is the only Australian Prime Minister to represent a Western Australian seat in the House of Representatives. He led the country during the most critical phase of World War II, establishing a close relationship with the US. He represented the Australian Labor Party, but he is regarded with admiration and affection across the Australian political divide, particularly for the character he showed throughout the challenging times he was in office. His name was selected for the University which replaced the Western Australian Institute of Technology on 1 January 1987.
Vice Chancellor Curtin University (1988 – 1997) and principal driver of the John Curtin Centre, of which the JCPML was part.
An Australian who had held research and management positions in US and Canada, Maloney succeeded inaugural Vice Chancellor of Curtin University and one of the original proponents of a John Curtin memorial library, Don Watts. He encouraged close connections between Curtin University and North American universities and saw a John Curtin Centre as part of this. He was familiar with US presidential libraries and worked with Vicki Williamson to develop a version of these appropriate to an Australian context. He fought for approval of and funding for the establishment of the Centre and secured high profile Australian and international figures to assist in this.
Curtin University Librarian (1992 – 2001) and founding Director, JCPML.
At the urging of Vice Chancellor Maloney, soon after her appointment Williamson undertook a study tour of US presidential libraries and developed the vision and model for the JCPML, adapting the US model for an Australian context. A member of the Curtin University team which achieved approval and funding for the JCPML, she led the setting up of the Library’s premises, collections and programs. She established key partnerships which shaped the JCPML’s development (e.g. with National Archives of Australia, the Curtin family and ExLibris).
Parliamentarian and key proponent and supporter of the JCPML.
In 1989, as Assistant State Secretary of the WA branch of the Australian Labor Party and State Secretary of the John Curtin Foundation, Cowdell offered the Foundation’s assistance in getting a memorial library established. He was instrumental in securing state and federal government supporters (including Kim Beazley, for whom he had been principal advisor) and donations for the JCPML. An active member of fund-raising and early advisory committees, he donated to the JCPML collection items held by the John Curtin Foundation and secured subsequent significant collection items. A member of state parliament 1993-2005, for his involvement in and support of the JCPML, he was awarded a Centenary Medal in 2001, a John Curtin Centre Fellowship in 2003 and a Curtin University Honorary Doctorate of Letters in 2005.
Curtin University academic and key proponent and supporter of the JCPML.
Black was Associate Professor and later Professor of History and Politics at Curtin University until his retirement in 2002. In 1992 he chaired the first working party on the establishment of a prime ministerial library and gallery at Curtin University, and was an active member of subsequent JCPML advisory committees. In 1998 he was appointed honorary JCPML Historical Consultant, advising JCPML staff on historical issues and assisting with development of major exhibitions – a role in which he continues today. He researched and authored books on John Curtin utilising JCPML collection resources, led editorial committees of early JCPML publications and was JCPML Visiting Scholar for 2000. In 2008 he was awarded the title of Emeritus Professor of Curtin University and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters.
Foundation JCPML Archivist.
A prominent archivist in WA and Laureate of the Australian Society of Archivists, Henderson was appointed JCPML Archivist in 1996. She oversaw the initial set-up of the JCPML building and the transfer of staff and collections to it in 1998. With Vicki Williamson, she was instrumental in developing the John Curtin archival collection and digitisation program, and the world-leading Electronic Research Archive. She was awarded a Centenary Medal in 2002, made a Fellow of Curtin University in 2008 and had the foyer area of the JCPML named after her on her retirement in 2008.
Prime Minister of Australia (1972-1975) and Foundation Patron JCPML.
With his wife Margaret, Whitlam undertook a private visit to the JCPML building while it was still under construction and later gave the 1998 inaugural JCPML Anniversary Lecture. He served as JCPML Patron 1998 – 2008 and thereafter was recognised as Foundation Patron. He maintained and inspired interest in the Library by visiting annually to attend anniversary events and exhibition openings. He assisted with the selection and securing of anniversary lecturers and encouraged open access to research material by donating to the JCPML copyright in his John Curtin Memorial Lectures and his inaugural Anniversary Lecture. He commenced the tradition, continued until today, of the JCPML Patrons signing the wall inside the lift in the JCPML building.
- David Black, “Biography of John Curtin,” accessed December 2019, https://jcpml.curtin.edu.au/resources/johncurtin/
- Susan Hart, Look Ever Forward: A History of Curtin University 1987-2012 (Perth, WA: Curtin University, 2014), 90-92.
- Vicki Williamson, interview by Lesley Carman-Brown, 9-17 October 2001, transcript, John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library, Perth, WA, JCPML00676/1.
- John Cowdell, interview by John Ferrell, 21 February – 7 March 2006, transcript, John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library, Perth, WA, JCPML0977/1/6.;
JCPML Information Update, December 2004 and April 2006.
- JCPML Information Update, April 2003 and February 2008.
- JCPML Information Update, April 2007 and February 2008.
- ”Biography of Gough Whitlam,” accessed December 2019, https://jcpml.curtin.edu.au/about/patrons/