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Four letters of condolence to Mrs Clark and two photographs


Four letters of condolence to Mrs Clark and two photographs

Object information

Physical description

Four condolence letters to Mrs Clark, on the death of Mrs Chifley and two photographs. Three of the letters are handwritten, whilst one, from the National Library of Australia, is typed. One of the photographs is a black and white hand coloured print of 'PRIME MINISTER'S LODGE, CANBERRA, ACT with a handwritten note on the back that reads 'I was here / 1946 to 1949 / with / Mrs Chifley / I.C. / Mr Chifley / Prime Minister / From 1945 - 1949'. The second photograph is black and white and shows Mrs Chifley, Mrs Clark and another woman standing a in a street. They all wear knee length or longer coats, hats and gloves. The back of the photograph has the pencilled number '457034'.

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

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