Between January 1901, when Edmund Barton was appointed Australia’s first Prime Minister, and 1991, there have been 23 prime ministers of Australia.
The National Archives has prepared a fact sheet on each of the prime ministers in this period describing records held about them in the National Archives collection.
1903–04, 1905–08, 1909–10
1908–09, 1910–13, 1914–15
The National Archives holds records relating to all prime ministers. These include:
The Archives holds personal records of a number of prime ministers, although several significant prime ministerial collections have been deposited with major collecting institutions such as the National Library of Australia, a prime ministerial library or a state or university library.
There are no collections of personal records held for the first five prime ministers (Edmund Barton, Alfred Deakin, John Watson, George Reid and Andrew Fisher) or for the short term Country Party Prime Minister Arthur Fadden (1941). The fact sheets on these men refer principally to records held by the Archives about them and their period in parliament.
The Archives Act 1983 provides a right of access to Commonwealth records once they enter the open access period. While the Act does not apply to personal records deposited with the Archives by individuals, it does apply to any Commonwealth records which form part of a personal archives collection. Public access to the non-Commonwealth component of a personal collection is determined by the depositor. Reference staff will be able to advise you of the access conditions that apply to the personal records of individual prime ministers. In some cases the records are very old and fragile, and access may be given to a copy rather than the original record.
The National Archives has prepared a number of publications that provide information about the life and times of each of Australia’s prime ministers and the archives collections that contain information about them.
The Australia's Prime Ministers website includes copies of significant records relating to each prime minister.
The following guides are available to download in pdfs or purchase as print publications.
The National Film and Sound Archive holds film of every Australian prime minister (except for John Watson), as well as recorded sound of all but five – Edmund Barton, Alfred Deakin, John Watson, George Reid and Andrew Fisher.