ACT Heritage Library Manuscript Collection

HMSS 0061 Jean Starling Papers

Scope and Content Notes

Call NumberHMSS 0061
CollectionJean Starling Papers
Date Range1940-1970
Quantity1m (6 manuscript boxes)
Access Conditionsopen
Reproduction Conditionsorphan work
Related Collections-

John Henry (Harry) Starling (1883-1966), public servant, was born on 15 January 1883 at Greensborough, Victoria, son of John Henry Starling, carpenter, and his wife Jane, née Gapper, both English born. Educated at the Greensborough State School until aged 15, he won a scholarship to Stott & Hoare's Business College, Melbourne. Having joined the Department of Lands and Survey in 1900, he transferred to the Commonwealth public service in 1902 as a clerk in the Governor-General's Office where he was assistant to (Sir) George StewardStarling became a licensed shorthand writer (1906) and an accountant and auditor (1908) before being promoted to the Department of External Affairs in 1909. On 15 February 1911 he married Sarah Elizabeth May Price (known as May) at St Katherine's Anglican Church, Eltham. He transferred to the newly established Prime Minister's Department in February 1912 and was appointed chief clerk in September 1917. As second-in-charge of the department, he took a large part in its organization and development through World War I.

In June 1919 he succeeded Steward as official secretary to the governor-general and secretary to the Federal Executive Council, holding office under Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson, Lord Forster and Lord Stonehaven. Responsible for the governor-general's correspondence and his establishment's expenditure, Starling also encoded, decoded and dispatched correspondence between governments, and between the governor-general and the secretary of state. He was an associate (1920) of the Chartered Institute of Secretaries and was appointed O.B.E. in 1920 and C.M.G. in 1925. After the Imperial Conference (1926) resolved to alter the existing channel of communication, a system of direct correspondence with the British government was taken over by the Prime Minister's Department in January 1928. (Abolition of the official secretaryship to the governor-general was postponed until parliament transferred to Canberra in 1927.)Starling continued as secretary to the Federal Executive Council until 1933, but in July 1929 was promoted assistant secretary of the department's territories branch. In 1933-35 he was secretary to the Prime Minister's Department and secretary to the Department of External Affairs; he was first assistant Commonwealth Public Service commissioner in 1935-38.

A 'small, neat, grey man who specialised in protocol', Starling was active after his retirement in January 1948 in the Canberra branches of the United Nations Children's Fund, the World Council of Churches and the Royal Institute of International Affairs. His recreations included bowls and golf. In Melbourne he had been a vestryman and member of the Church of England Men's Society; in Canberra he was a church warden and lay reader at St John's, Reid, and a councillor and guarantor of St Paul's, Manuka. A Freemason from 1913, he belonged to Lodge Commonwealth; having been treasurer of the Canberra Rotary Club for ten years, he was made an honorary life member in 1965.  Starling died in Canberra Community Hospital on 5 April 1966 and was cremated. Two sons (John and Philip) and a daughter (Eva Jean) survived him.

SOURCE: Australian Dictionary of Biography

Benjamin Alfred Starling, brother of Harry Starling, died in action March 1917.

Eva Jean Starling arrived in Canberra from Melbourne as a teenager in 1928 and lived with her family at 66 Dominion Circuit, Forrest. She became Canberra’s first community librarian and established the library in the rear of Acton House. In 1938 she travelled to Britain and undertook a librarian’s course at London University College while working at Oxford City Library.

In London when war broke out, Starling volunteered for the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and trained as a specialist photographic interpreter. Now Flying Officer Starling, she served at the Central Interpretation Unit (CIU). The CIU played a crucial role within the planning stages of most RAF operations, and with every aspect of intelligence. She was employed alongside 1,700 other personnel to analyse and interpret at its height a daily intake of 25,000 negatives and 60,000 prints from which 40000 intelligence reports were ultimately produced.

After the war Starling returned to Australia and worked at the National Library before joining the Department of Defence and later the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. She died in 1998.

SOURCE: Australian War Memorial.  

Box List

Box No.DescriptionQuantity Inclusive Dates 

J H Starling - correspondence

Letters to and receipts and journals of Mr. J. H. Starling 

1 file 1903-1958 
J H Starling - Newscuttings, notes and documents concerning the process of the award of Imperial Honours  1 file 1919-1946 
J H Starling - newscuttings and notes 1 file ca. 1900-1930 
B A Starling - Letters from, mostly to Eva 1 file 1909-1915 
B A Starling - papers including letters from, notification of death of, will and estate 1 file 1915-1917 
2-4J H Starling? - newscuttings1 file  
5Jean Starling - University of Melbourne Graduate Publications1 file1955-1961
Jean Starling - travel brochures, maps, exhibition catalogues, programs for Australia, Egypt, United Kingdom, United States and Europe 1 file 1950s 
Jean Starling - travel - Perugia postcards, tourist brochures 1 file 1960s? 
Jean Starling - letters to parents from London 1 file 1938-1939 
Jean Starling - travel - Photos of Rabaul and Fiji 1936, Journal kept Canberra to Darwin via Adelaide, Alice Springs and Katherine, 1947; journal and photos of trip to New Zealand, 1955. 1 file 1936-1955 
Jean Starling - travel - letters to parents from US, UK, Europe and journals kept on trip to US and USA 1 file  1958-1959 
Jean Starling - travel - tourist brochures, exhibition catalogues and programs - England and Scotland1 file 1958-1959 
Jean Starling - pocket appointment diaries  1947-1967; 1977; 1979; 1981; 1987-1996 
5J H Starling - Flugel’s German and English Dictionary – Abridged – Dulau & Co.  1 book 1909 
5Children’s Magazine; being the continuation of the Children’s Encyclopaedia, ed. By Arthur Mee. Volume VI – Amalgamated Press, London. 1913 1 book