Another Labor leader is giving his collected personal papers to the Flinders University Library’s Special Collections, but the donor, former SA Premier John Bannon, cautions that a considerable amount of work remains to be done before the resource is ready for researchers.
Flinders already possesses collections left by Federal Labor leader Dr HV Evatt and an earlier State Premier, Don Dunstan. Dunstan and Bannon’s leadership of State Labor covers a 25-year span from 1967 to 1992, with just a six month break in 1979 during Des Corcoran’s premiership.
Dr Bannon, who has a PhD in history from Flinders, said the collection includes official documents and reports, personal and public correspondence, briefings, speeches and files of newspaper clippings on public and political issues dating from the early 1960s up until 2000.
The Bannon Collection, which will be housed in the Central Library at Flinders, also contains photographs, posters, cartoons and other memorabilia, including an unsolicited portrait of dubious artistic merit.
Dr Bannon and his wife Angela are in the process of ordering and indexing the thousands of pages of stored material to make it accessible to scholars.
Dr Bannon said his contribution dovetails neatly with the existing holdings, as his records extend back to his time as a minister in the Dunstan government.
“The task we’ve embarked on is to collate and classify all the documents, sorting out the trivia and finding the gems,” Dr Bannon said.
Detailed descriptions of the material are being entered on a database that will be searchable by topic and by year.
“This material is supplemented by more official records held in the State Records Office, and the idea would be for someone working on a topic to cross-reference by moving from one to the other,” Dr Bannon said.
“A researcher could pick up my personal files and find my handwritten notes or a record of a telephone conversation to give a background and a context to the official material.”