The papers of MS 760 contain E.A. Petherick's correspondence concerning business affairs as a bookseller in London, 1870-1900, letters to his father, 1870-1877, letters relating to his collection, 1875-1914, to its presentation to the Commonwealth Parliament, and to his subsequent work as Archivist. The collection also comprises Petherick's working notes and drafts for his publications including "European enterprises in Australia" and for his "Bibliography of Australasia", press cuttings and biographical material. A large part of the papers comprise original manuscripts acquired by Petherick, transcripts of historical documents, and the manuscript of his unpublished, "Bibliography of Australasia" (16 boxes, 92 binders, 2 fol. items).
The Acc09.003 instalment comprises the deed of gift to the Commonwealth of Australia of an Australasian and Polynesian library. This is the signed and sealed illuminated address, recording the presentation by E.A. Petherick and his wife Mary Agatha Petherick, to the Chairman of the Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, of his private library for the use of the people of the Commonwealth. The collection of some 16,500 titles formed the nucleus of the National Library of Australia's collection of Australiana (1 elephant folio).
Edward Augustus Petherick was born in England and came to Australia as a child. He returned to London to work in 1870 and spent the next forty years as a bookseller, publisher, bibliographer and book collector. Upon his return to Australia in 1909 he presented his large collection to the Commonwealth Parliament as a "nucleus of an historical museum." He spent his last years as Commonwealth Archivist, working on his collection.