Menu toggle

National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive

Collection Explorer


Six letters to Mrs Chifley


Six letters to Mrs Chifley

Object information

Physical description

Six letters to Mrs Elizabeth Chifley, two of which are condolence letters on the death of Ben Chifley. The remaining four letters include two of general correspondence, a Christmas greeting for 1961, and a letter from Leslie Finlay Crisp about the return of a photograph, and a biography he was writing. Four of the letters are handwritten, with the remaining two typed. One of the condolence letters is in the form of a poem or song with a note at the end.

Statement of significance

The objects in the Ben Chifley Collection refer to the lives of Ben and Elizabeth Chifley, primarily from the Chifleys' days as Prime Minister and Prime Minister's wife, but stretching beyond Ben's death in 1951 until Elizabeth's death in 1962. Significant objects include a letter of condolence to Elizabeth Chifley from Elsie Curtin (former PM John Curtin's wife) on the death of Ben Chifley (above), photos of Chifley as a young boy and a bible on which Chifley was sworn in as minister in the short-lived Scullin government of 1931.

Joseph Benedict Chifley was Australia's sixteenth Prime Minister, leading the Australian government between 1945 and 1949. This period was one of particular importance in Australian history, being the time during which many of the contours of post-War Australian social and economic development were established. Chifley also articulated the values of the reforming Labor Party in his "Light on the Hill" speech of 1949. However, the election of December that year saw the beginning of a drastic re-alignment of political allegiances in voting behaviour, leading to over twenty years of conservative dominance in Australian politics. An understanding of Ben Chifley, in both his private and public guises, illustrates much about this crucial era in post-War Australian history.

Object information

Back to top