ACT Heritage Library Manuscript Collection

HMSS 0141 Canberra Preschool Society Incorporated Records

Scope and Content Notes

Call Number

HMSS 0141


Canberra Preschool Society Incorporated Records

Date Range



1.49m (9 manuscript boxes; 1 oversize wooden box)

Access Conditions open
Access Conditions unstated
Related Collections

HMSS 0040 Weston Preschool Parents Association
HMSS 0043 Canberra Mothercraft Society [Occasional Care Centres]
HMSS 0054 Fairbairn Preschool Records
HMSS 0056 Stokes Street Preschool Records
HMSS 0097 National Council of Women of ACT (Inc) [Emergency Housekeeper and Home Help Service]
HMSS 0153 Canberra Nursery School
HMSS 0188 Reid Preschool Parents Association Records


The Canberra Preschool Society has been the peak body of Preschool and Playschool Parent Associations since 1944.

The Canberra Nursery Kindergarten Society was founded in 1943 to “promote a knowledge and understanding of the preschool child and to further the establishment of a public kindergarten in Canberra”. 

In 1944 the Society was commissioned by the Department of the Interior to be the Canberra Preschool Advisory Board. It advised the Department on general policy, standards, registration of local groups, subsidies and educational publications issued through the preschools, and was the liaison between voluntary local committees and the Department. The Society maintained this advisory role until 1968 when the role was assumed by the Department of the Interior and its successors: staffing, programs, buildings, equipment etc were referred to the Preschool Office, while the Society dealt with local committees and the community.

Acton Nursery School, opened in April 1944, was Canberra’s first early childhood centre, followed by Reid Play Centre in 1945.  By the 1950s, Acton had closed but the preschool play centres were rapidly increasing, and the nature and scope of the Society’s work had changed. On 12 July 1955 the name was changed to the Canberra Preschool Society (CPS). The Society incorporated in 1975.

From 1963, play centres were officially known as preschools.  Canberra’s rapid expansion in the 1970s saw a proliferation of preschools. The workload for the volunteers of the CPS Council was enormous. From then until the early 1990s, various attempts to alleviate the workload were made, none successful.

Four early intervention preschools for children with special needs were established in the early 1990s, a realisation of efforts by the CPS since the 1970s. 

Canberra Preschool Society has traditionally affiliated with organisations concerned with children’s health, women, migrants, preschool education and general education. One of the most significant affiliations was with the National Council of Women’s Emergency Housekeeper Service, established in 1946. Local preschool committees and the CPS cooperated with the NCW to provide emergency housekeeping for young mothers who were often without any family or social networks in the new city.

In the light of significant changes happening to preschools within the ACT, nationally and internationally, the CPS since 2006 had been reviewing its core objectives, vision and management structures. This culminated in a new constitution being adopted on 13 November 2007, in time for the transfer of responsibility from the preschool to the primary school section of the ACT Department of Education and Training in 2008.

Box List

Box No.



Date Range


Newspaper clippings and scrapbooks

CPS newspaper clippings of articles, letters to the editor and news reports on preschool education in Canberra and elsewhere. Undated clippings at front of first folder.

3 folders

1968 – 1996


Newspaper clippings and scrapbooks

Scrapbook, mostly newspaper clippings of the beginnings of preschool education in Canberra. Includes Christmas cards from people significant in the Canberra Preschool Society. Two cards from Lady Slim (patron) contain photographs: the lawns at Yarralumla, and Viscount and Lady Slim walking with HM Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Another photograph shows a child presenting a bouquet to Lady Slim.

1 exercise book

1956 – 1959, 1973



1 set of b&w negatives (no prints), 2 colour prints ca 1970s, 2 b&w prints by Australian News and Information Bureau (with some people identified), all of preschool activities; 1 b&w print probably of Dickson Preschool.

1 packet


Manuscript histories of CPS, unpublished

Rudduck, Loma, ‘Miss Gladys Edith Pendred, OBE BSc FACE, Federal Officer for Australian Pre-School Association from 1945-1964’, ca 1966, 1 p.

Rudduck, Loma, ‘Canberra Pre-School Society; A Record – 1943-60’, Canberra, 1960, 23 p.

Belen-Smith, Peta, [untitled notes for a talk on the Society, 1943-1985], 20 April 1986, 25 p.

Howe, Wendy, ‘History of Preschools – Post 1986’, 1992, 2 p.

Rudduck, Loma, ‘Canberra Pre-School Society’, talk given 8 Aug 1967, 5 p. Includes information on Gladys Pendred.

‘Canberra Pre-School Society; Gladys Pendred Memorial Library’, October 1973. Single sheet given out to Parent Associations.

‘The Canberra Pre-School Society – Its role in the provision of pre-school education and the community’, ca 1980, 7 p.

Rudduck, Loma, ‘History’, talk ca 1983, 4 p.

1 folder

1966 – 1992


Affiliated Organisations

ACT Emergency Housekeeper and Home Help Service. Office sign, correspondence with CPS including details of services available, annual reports, statistics.  Also a summary of CPS function, management and affiliations, 1986.

1 folder

1965 – 1975, 1986


Annual Reports

CPS annual reports .

1 folder

1943 – 1968

2 – 5

Minutes of Meetings

Minutes of general and committee meetings, and some annual general meetings, including reports from CPS representatives to initially the NSW Dept of Education, and later the ACT Schools Authority, and quarterly reports from some individual preschools. Also includes occasional reports from SPELD (Specific Learning Difficulties Association) and Reverse Garbage Service, and newspaper clippings.

12 minute books

1943 – 1987

5 – 6

Minutes of Meetings

Minutes of Council, general and annual general meetings of CPS. Includes Standing Orders for conduct of Council meetings, reviews and surveys, and some annual reports. Also minutes of meetings between CPS and responsible bodies such as Schools Branch, Schools Authority or Preschool Advisory Council, or ad hoc meetings such as with ACT Education Alliance or Consultative Committee on Public Schooling. Occasionally there is other material such as brochure text.

14 folders

1969 – 1990

6 – 7

Minutes of Meetings

Minutes of Annual General Meetings.

2 minute books

1964 - 1995


Minutes of Meetings

Minutes of Council meetings.

1 bound volume

1980 – 1989

7 – 8

Newsletters and Information Booklets

CPS Newsletter nos 1-2 (1984), nos 1-2 (1985), Oct 1986, Mar 1987, Aug, Oct 1995, Mar, Jun, Aug 1997.

Canberra Parents’ Bulletin, new series, nos 10-31 (1955-1958). Incomplete.

Gifted Education Newsletter no. 1, 9 Jun 1983

ACT Schools Authority, Calendar – June to August 1982.

ACT Schools Authority, Belconnen South Area Preschool Information Booklet, 1989.

Central Canberra Area Preschool Information Book, 1989.

SPELD ACT Newsletter 1984 [May?], Feb-May, Nov 1987.

SPELD ACT President’s Report 1983-1984.

ACT Schools Bulletin no. 14 (1980) – no. 640 (1995). Incomplete.

10 folders

1980 – 1997


Published monographs

ACT Pre-School Teachers Association, The Best of the Canberra Parents’ Bulletins, Canberra, 1982, 348 p.  Includes articles on early history of preschools and the Canberra Parents’ Bulletin, language and health of preschoolers, play and educational activities, stories, poems and recipes.

Serjeant, F Irene (ed), “New Era” Class Pictures and Charts, London, [ca 1936].  Handbook for use with collection of teaching posters.

Ca 1936, 1982


Oversize items

“New Era” Class Pictures and Charts, 80 sheets in black leatherette-covered wooden box, London, [ca 1936]. Box is damaged, nos 60-63 are missing, and there is an additional unrelated poster ‘September’. Stored in plastic bag above manuscript boxes.

Ca 1936


Individual preschool annual reports, AGM minutes and audited financial statements

Ainslie Preschool (Baker Gardens) – minutes, some reports 1997-1999
Aranda Preschool – President’s report 1997
Calwell Preschool – President’s report  2001
Campbell Preschool (Savige Street) – minutes 1996, President’s report 1999
Chapman Preschool – minutes of general and annual general meetings 1997
Chifley Preschool – President’s and Auditor’s reports 1996-1997
Cook Preschool – President’s and financial reports 1999, 2001
Deakin Preschool (Hopetoun Circuit) – minutes and President’s report 1996
Downer Preschool (Cotton St) – minutes 1996
Evatt Preschool – President’s report 1999
Fadden Preschool – financial report 1995
Florey Preschool – minutes 1996, President’s reports 1996-1998

1 file



Individual preschool annual reports, AGM minutes and audited financial statements

Garran Preschool – minutes 1979-1981, minutes and reports 1996
Giralang Preschool – minutes and reports 1976-1980
Gordon Preschool – minutes and reports 1998
Gowrie Preschool – minutes and reports 1995, President’s report 1998
Griffith (Stokes Street) Preschool – minutes and reports 1996
Hall Preschool – President’s report 1998
Higgins Preschool – President’s report 1997
Holt Preschool – reports and minutes 1998-1999
Isabella Plains Preschool – President’s report 1998
Jervis Bay Preschool – minutes 1995
Lyneham Preschool – President’s report 2000
Lyons Preschool – minutes and reports 1996-1999
McKellar Preschool – newsletter 1995, minutes 1996, President’s report 2000
Melba Preschool – President’s report and minutes 1996

1 file



Individual preschool annual reports, AGM minutes and audited financial statements

Monash Preschool – minutes and reports 1996-1997
Mount Neighbour Preschool – President’s report 2000
Nicholls Preschool – President’s and financial reports 1997
Palmerston Preschool – President’s report 1998
Reid Preschool – President’s report 2000
Richardson Preschool – minutes and reports 1996-1997
Spence Preschool – minutes and reports 1976-1982, 1996; newsletters 1985

1 file



Individual preschool annual reports, AGM minutes and audited financial statements

Taylor Preschool – President’s report and minutes 1996
Urambi Preschool – President’s and financial reports 1997
Village Creek Preschool – minutes and reports 1995
Wanniassa Hills Preschool – President’s report 2000
Watson Preschool (Irvine Street) – President’s reports 1971-1979
Watson Preschool (Knox Street) – minutes and reports 1979-1988
Weston Preschool – newsletter 1977, minutes 1996, President’s reports 1998, 2001

1 file