ACT Heritage Library Manuscript Collection

HMSS 0020 Eric Sparke Research Papers

Scope and Contents Notes

Call Number

HMSS 0020


Eric Sparke Research Papers

Date Range



0.18m (1 manuscript box)

Access Conditions


Copying Conditions

orphan work

Related Collections -

Eric Sparke was a journalist, creative writer and broadcaster before studying history at the Australian National University in the mid-1970s. His 1987 doctoral thesis formed the basis of Canberra 1954-1980, the last volume of a trilogy on the history of Canberra published by the ACT Administration Central Office to mark the Australian Bicentenary in 1988.

The book traces the history of Canberra from the Senate Select Committee on the Development of Canberra in 1954, through the Menzies and Holford era and the establishment of the National Capital Development Commission, the transfer of the government departments from Melbourne, the emergence of the Y-plan, the construction of new Parliament House and other national buildings, the new towns of Woden, Weston Creek, Belconnen and Tuggeranong, the problems of population growth and land tenure, the idea of Canberra as a social laboratory, and finally the movement for self-government.

The papers are not formally identified as Eric Sparke’s research notes, but the consistency of handwritten notes and the complete conformity with the subject matter and time periods of the book strongly indicate that that is what they are. Although there is evidence of a numbering system, possibly matching the chapters in the thesis, the papers as received were in no particular order and include some unnumbered material.

The papers consist of:

  1. annotated photocopies of NCDC and related publications and reports
  2. compilations of biographical material on significant figures, e.g. Lord Holford, Grenfell Rudduck, Tony Powell, Malcolm Latham
  3. compilations of material on significant buildings, developments etc in ACT; some are relatively minor compilations of readily accessible material, often from the Canberra Times; others are significant, often annotated, compilations on major policy matters such as the Y-plan
  4. copies of articles, mainly from Architecture in Australia or similar, on Canberra design and/or development
  5. manuscript or typescript drafts of papers, speeches, articles etc, with comments, including Gough Whitlam’s Walter Burley Griffin Memorial Lecture 1968; some have been published but not in full, e.g. a chapter for Canberra’s Engineering Heritage; others have annotations apparently made before publication; yet others have been published but these annotations seem to have been made on a typescript version
  6. statements, sometimes press releases, that give useful collections of information about a place or event, e.g. details of Kings Avenue Bridge the day before the opening in 1962
  7. copies of correspondence on matters of policy, including a letter from Prime Minister Menzies about the drabness of architectural design in Canberra, and related correspondence
  8. the administrative history and/or function of government and semi-government institutions, notably the Department of the Capital Territory and the National Capital Development Commission
  9. some brochures and similar publications, e.g. on the Academy of Science