National Library of Australia

You must be logged in to Tag Records
Papers of Sir Zelman Cowen, 1950-2006 [manuscript]
Bib ID 1082201
Format ManuscriptManuscript
Cowen, Zelman, Sir, 1919-2011
Access Conditions Part available for research; part requires permission for research. Not for loan. 
Description [1950-2006] 
81.68 m. (412 boxes) + 6 cartons + 29 fol. items + 1 phase box + 1 archives box. 

The first part of the MS 6736 collection comprises files, correspondence, speeches and articles relating to Zelman Cowen's work at the Universities of Melbourne, New England and Queensland. Congratulatory messages on the award of his knighthood in 1976 are included. The second and larger part relates to his term as Governor-General and includes congratulatory messages, personal correspondence, miscellaneous files, visitors books, daily programs, orders, speeches and drafts of speeches. There are also correspondence, engagements and addresses of Lady Cowen (253 boxes, 4 cartons, 2 fol. boxes, 1 phase box).

The Acc06.052 instalment comprises two binders labelled "Personal papers - Anna Cowen" containing a typescript of Lady Cowen's diary, 1977-1982, together with two binders labelled "Speeches by H.E. Lady Cowen, 1977-1982, Government House, Canberra" containing typescripts of Lady Cowen's speeches during this period, when Sir Zelman Cowen was Governor-General of Australia (2 cartons).

The Acc12.026 instalment comprises papers relates mainly to the latter part of Sir Zelman’s life and career. Included is correspondence, a large group (30 boxes) of engagement files (1990-2006); speeches, including a large group made while Governor-General; transcriptions of oral histories recorded by Sir Zelman; writings by Sir Zelman including articles and drafts of his memoir which had the working title "Beyond the Scope of Any dream’; appointment diaries (1982-1989); papers relating to Sir Zelman’s appointment as Provost of Oriel College, Oxford (1982-1990); a small group of papers relating to his early years including his time at school and university; and photographs. There are paper relating to several organisations with which Sir Zelman was involved including The Van Leer Jerusalem Foundation; Everald Compton International; Fairfax Newspapers; Order of Australia Association; Australian National Academy of Music; Migraine Foundation of Australia; Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Society; and St Kilda Football Club. During his retirement, Sir Zelman was also active in Jewish community affairs in Melbourne. There is a small group of papers of Lady Cowen comprising speeches (1991-2006); diaries, including those kept while at Government House (1977-1982;) and files of daily programs including some relating to functions at Government House (1977-1982). There is a large group of Honorary Degrees, certificates, plaques and awards presented to Sir Zelman during the course of his career (159 boxes, 1 archives box, 27 folio items).


Constitutional lawyer, academic and Governor-General. Zelman Cowen was Professor of Law at the University of Melbourne from 1951-1966, and Vice-Chancellor of the University of New England, 1967-1969, and University of Queensland, 1970-1977. From 1977 to 1982 he served as Governor-General of Australia. He was Provost of Oriel College, Oxford University, 1982-1990. Following his return to Australia, Cowen served as chairman of the board of Fairfax newspapers and became patron of St Kilda Football Club.


Manuscript reference no.: MS 6736, MS Acc06.052, MS Acc12.026.

Associated materials: Papers of Sir Zelman Cowen, 1974-1982 MS 5948.

Related Material Zelman Cowen interviewed by Mark Finnane; Located at; National Library of Australia Oral History collection ORAL TRC 5327.  Addresses; Located at; State Library of Victoria. 
Cited In

Guide to collections of manuscripts relating to Australia ; E10.

Index/Finding Aid Note Finding aid (33 p.) available in the Special Collections Reading Room. 
Subjects Cowen, Zelman, Sir, 1919-2011 -- Archives.  |  Cowen, Anna, Lady -- Archives.  |  Oriel College -- Presidents -- Archives.  |  Lawyers -- Australia -- Archives.  |  College presidents -- Australia -- Archives.  |  College presidents -- England -- Oxfordshire -- Archives.  |  Governors general -- Australia -- Archives.  |  Governors general's spouses -- Australia -- Archives.  |  Australia -- Politics and government.
Time Coverage 1950-2006 
Occupation Lawyers.  |  Academics.  |  Vice chancellors.  |  Governors general.  |  Spouses.
Other authors/contributors Cowen, Anna, Lady
Terms of Use Copying of Sir and Lady Zelman Cowen's copyright material not permitted for research purposes during the lifetime of Sir and Lady Zelman Cowen. 


    In the Library

    Request this item to view in the Library's reading rooms using your library card. To learn more about how to request items watch this short online video Help Video.

    Details Collect From
    MS 6736 Special Collections Reading Room
    Access details ... more
    MS Acc 12.026. Special Collections Reading Room - Prior notice required
    Unprocessed instalment
    Access details ... more
    MS Acc06.052 Special Collections Reading Room - Prior notice required
    Unprocessed instalment
    Access details ... more

    Order a copy

    - Copyright or permission restrictions may apply. We will contact you if necessary.

    Help Video To learn more about Copies Direct watch this short online video Help Video.
    close Can I borrow items from the Library?

    You need Flash player 8+ and JavaScript enabled to view this video embedded.

    You can view this on the NLA website.

    close What can I get online?

    You need Flash player 8+ and JavaScript enabled to view this video embedded.

    You can view this on the NLA website.

    close Can I get copies of items from the Library?

    You need Flash player 8+ and JavaScript enabled to view this video embedded.

    You can view this on the NLA website.

    Members of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Maori communities are advised that this catalogue contains names and images of deceased people. All users of the catalogue should also be aware that certain words, terms or descriptions may be culturally sensitive and may be considered inappropriate today, but may have reflected the author's/creator's attitude or that of the period in which they were written.