Skip to main content

Prime Minister Curtin

Diary of a Labour Man: 1917-1945

Provides a day by day chronicle of John Curtin’s life from 1917 to 1945. Compiled from information in the Westralian Worker and other sources such as family papers, photographs, government publications and biographies, the diary paints a picture of the life of this remarkable man.

The Art of the possible: Creating an independent Australian foreign policy

This online exhibition explores Australia’s growing independence in the realm of foreign policy from 1935 to 1950. Virtual reality tours and selected content from the original exhibition are featured. The travelling exhibition based on the major exhibition is also available online.

Aspirations of a working class man: Achievements under John Curtin’s leadership

Believing that ‘the peace must be won for the masses’, Curtin used his wartime prime ministership to further his lifelong dream of a fair go for all Australians, implementing Labor programs in the areas of economic reform, social services and immigration, education, public broadcasting, and foreign policy, while maintaining confidence in the power of Parliament. Political cartoons illustrate vividly the achievements which are the focus of the resource. Online educational activities involve interpretation of some of these cartoons.

The General and the Prime Minister: Douglas MacArthur and John Curtin

US General Douglas MacArthur and Australian prime minister John Curtin first met at Parliament House Canberra on 26 March 1942, at a time when the threat of invasion by Japanese forces moving ever southward seemed very real. What began as a ‘marriage of convenience’ between ‘the drab, socialist politician and the colourful, conservative general’ appointed as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the South-West Pacific Area, developed into a ‘close and mutually supportive relationship’. This resource considers the Curtin-MacArthur relationship in this critical period of World War Two and how historians have subsequently assessed its strengths, failings and overall importance to Australia’s war effort and national sovereignty.

John Curtin’s legacy: Leading Australia from war to peace

This exhibition follows Australia’s progress from 1942, the most critical year of the war, when Prime Minister Curtin ‘looked to America’ for help, until 1951 when the ANZUS Treaty was signed. It explores the Curtin Government’s initiatives in areas including the economy, immigration and foreign policy and how these developed in the postwar years to form the foundations of modern Australia. Virtual reality tours and online educational activities are a feature of the exhibition.

John Curtin: A man of peace, a time of war

John Curtin was the poor country boy who rose to become prime minister, the revolutionary young socialist turned political pragmatist, the pacifist called upon to lead Australia during wartime. ‘Walk through’ the exciting panoramas to experience the exhibition in its original form. Feeling adventurous? Try out the interactive quizzes and activities.

John Curtin: A prime minister and his people

This selection of about 500 letters documents the relationship between Prime Minister John Curtin and the general public during the years 1941-1945 and is the result of a joint project between the National Archives of Australia and the JCPML. Two activities with quiizzes, focus questions and follow up research deal with the issues of media censorship in wartime and the banning of the Commununist Party in World War II.

Menzies and Curtin in World War Two: A comparative essay by David Black

Robert Menzies and John Curtin were very different in personality, style and philosophy and faced different scenarios in their terms as Prime Ministers of Australia in World War Two. This essay compares the two leaders in four key areas: running the war effort; defining Australia’s place on the world stage; dealing with party politics, elections and the press; and visions for Australia. In addition, eminent historians and commentators provide contemporary perspectives on the two men as wartime leaders. A variety of photographs, cartoons, documents and film and audio clips accompany the resource.

Menzies, Fadden, Curtin and the Japanese Envoy

Explores the relationships between Australia’s three prime ministers of 1941 – Robert Menzies, Arthur Fadden and John Curtin – and the new Japanese envoy to Australia, Tatsuo Kawai. Kawai’s relationship with Curtin was by far the most intense, and friendly contact between their families continued for decades after.

The Prime Minister and the President: John Curtin and Franklin D. Roosevelt in World War II

This resource explores the relationship between the war time leaders of Australia and the United States. Although the two men met only once, in April 1944, when both were clearly ailing, the interaction between them clearly did matter. Images of photographs, documents and news articles from the time bring the resource to life.

The Prime Minister and the press: A study in intimacy

In this paper, present-day political commentator, Michelle Grattan, provides an incisive commentary on Curtin’s relationship with the press in wartime. She contrasts the differences in Curtin’s method of extended and friendly meetings with journalists with the current practice of the 30 second ‘sound bite’; and a similarity – that Curtin still wished to put his own ‘spin’ on events.

Shaping the nation: John Curtin and Australia

In following the development of John Curtin’s political thinking and career, this exhibition traces the development of Australia to full adulthood – to the moment when Australia had to stand apart from Britain and defend its own soil. The exhibition is an exploration, through the eyes of one of Australia’s most prominent early citizens, of what it means to be a nation.

John Curtin: From revolutionary firebrand to journalist in spirit

This online exhibition explores John Curtin’s development as a journalist and his special relationship with the media as prime minister. Photographs, audio clips and selections from Curtin’s own writings bring the story to life. There’s also an online quiz and Mix & Match activity for those who want to test their knowledge.

John Curtin: a Prime Minister & His People

This selection of letters documenting the relationship between Prime Minister John Curtin and the general public during the years 1941-1945 is the result of a joint project between the National Archives of Australia and the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library (JCPML).