MS 7886
Papers of Oskar Hermann Khristian Spate (1911- )



Scope and Content Note

The National Library took custody of this collection in March 1989. Series 2-9 were transferred to the Library in a total of 32 labelled box files. The contents of these box files have been removed into folders without disturbing the order of the papers therein. The three part numbering system used in this list (eg: Folder 3/1/2) consists firstly of the series number, secondly of the box file number within that series, and thirdly the folder number within that box file. The full collection as sorted and listed consists of sixteen manuscript boxes (2.24 metres).

Access: The collection is available for reference, with the exception of Series 1, which is closed.

Biographical Note

Oskar Spate was born in England in 1911 and spent some childhood years in the U.S.A. Back in London, he attended St Clement Dane's Grammar School and was taught geography by Leonard Suggate. In 1930 he moved to Cambridge University and achieved honours in geography. In 1937 he completed his Phd. on the development of London. After a year at Reading he moved to Burma, joined the Army in late 1941, and was wounded in a Japanese bombing raid on Rangoon. After the war he combined lecturing in England with writing a regional geography on the Indian sub-continent.

In 1951 he arrived in Canberra to take up the post of Foundation Professor of Geography at the ANU Research School of Pacific Studies, a position he held until 1967. In 1953 he advised the Australian Minister for Territories on the future economic development of Papua and New Guinea. In 1954 his landmark text India and Pakistan was published, the culmination of nearly ten years work. In 1958-9 he conducted a crucial survey of the economic problems of the Fijian people, his report guiding the colonial administration's economic preparations for Fijian independence. He returned to Fiji in 1969 as a member of the Commission on Education in Fiji, having previously fulfilled a similar role in Papua New Guinea as a member of the Commission on Higher Education (1963-65). This New Guinea Commission recommended a qualified shift away from the sole aim of achieving mass literacy, to one of incorporating access to higher education.

As a result of these reports he subsequently became a member of the councils of the University of Papua New Guinea and the University of the South Pacific.

From 1967 to 1972 he was Director of the ANU Research School of Pacific Studies, and in 1972 moved to the Department of Pacific History. Upon his retirement in 1976 he devoted most of his energies to researching and writing his three volume history The Pacific since Magellan. Throughout his career Oskar Spate has published a wide diversity of papers and essays on the geography of Europe, South Asia and Australia, the exploration of Australia and the Pacific and many other subject areas.

Reference: T.M. Perry, "Oskar Spate: a personal impression", in Jennings, J.N. and Linge, G.J.R., Of Time and place: essays inhonour of OHK Spate, Canberra, 1980, pp. xiii-xix.

Series List

  1. Diaries, 1942-May 1960, 1965-88 CLOSED
  2. Family and personal correspondence, 1941-45
  3. Professional/Academic career - ANU/UPNG/USP, 1950-89
  4. Scholarly papers, essays and reviews, 1934-88
  5. Miscellaneous correspondence, 1944-88
  6. India and Pakistan, 1946-87
  7. Australia and the Pacific - papers re geography, history and exploration, 1947-88
  8. Fiji, 1955-70
  9. Scandals, 1954-79

Series Description

Series 2 Family and Personal Correspondence, 1941-45

Box 7

Folder 2/1/1     - Correspondence woth mother, 1941-45 (Burma and India)        
Folder 2/1/2      - Correspondence with L.S. Suggate, geography teacher,        
                 1942-44                                                        

Series 3 Professional/Academic Career, 1950-89

Folder 3/1/1     - Correspondence re appointment to ANU, 1950-51                
                 - Offer from Leeds University, 1957                            
                 - Study leave report, 1961                                     
                 - Offer from Toronto University, 1962                          
                 - Correspondence re Cambridge Chair in Geography,              
                 1964-65                                                        
Folder 3/1/2     - Correspondence re Directorship of ANU Research               
                 School of Pacific Studies, 1967-80                             
                 - Correspondence re RGS Victoria Medal, 1971                   
                 - Correspondence re Of Time and place festschrift,             
                 1980                                                           
                 - D. Litt. citation, 1984                                      
Folder 3/2/1     - Papers re ANU Coat of Arms, 1952-53                          
                 - Study leave reports, 1956-76                                 
                 - Memos re ANU Deanery, 1955-57                                
                 - Correspondence, etc. re H.C. Brookfield, 1968-69             
Folder 3/2/2     - Correspondence re Richard Feachem, 1968-70                   
                 - Papers re Coombes Building, ANU, 1970-71                     
                 - Report on Council debate on Research School of               
                 Earth Sciences proposal, 1971                                  
                 - Memos re North Australian Research Unit, 1971-74             
                 - "Early days at ANU: an anecdote" - photocopy, n.d.           
Folder 3/3/1      - Academic references, 1965-84                                
Folder 3/4/1     - Papers re the beginnings of the University of PNG            
                 the University of the South Pacific, 1962-80                   
                 - "Early days of UPNG" - seminar paper, 1989                   

Series 4 Scholarly Papers, Essays and Reviews, 1934-88

Box 8

Folder 4/1/1     - Miscellaneous writing (pre-ANU), 1934-65                     
Folder 4/2/1      - Published papers, 1938-45                                   
Folder 4/2/2     - Published papers, 1947-52                                    
Folder 4/2/3     - Published papers, 1953-56                                    
Folder 4/2/4      - Published papers, 1957-64                                   
Folder 4/3/1     - Published papers, 1965-68                                    
Folder 4/3/2     - Published papers, 1971-77                                    

Box 9
Folder 4/3/3      - Published papers, 1977-88                                   
Folder 4/4/1     - Miscellaneous writing:                                       
                 ABC talks, early 1950s                                         
                 Historical geography, 1950s-1972                               
                 Education, early 1950s                                         
Folder 4/5/1     -Controversies, 1953-87                                        
                 Literary and facetiae, 1940s-1988                              
Folder 4/5/2     -ANU memos and other papers, 1959-88                           
                 Travels, 1967-70                                               
Folder 4/6/1     - Papers on the Pacific, 1959-86                               
Folder 4/6/2     - Papers on geography, 1940-78                                 
Folder 4/6/3     - Papers on South Asia, 1943-81                                

Box 10
Folder 4/6/4     - Miscellaneous papers, 1957-77                                
                 - Papers on Australia, 1957-84                                 
Folder 4/7/1     - Reviews: geography and miscellaneous, 1950-86                
Folder 4/7/2     - Reviews: Asia and Australia, 1950-78                         
Folder 4/7/3     - Reviews: Pacific, 1963-78                                    

Series 5 Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1944-88

Folder 5/1/1     - Australian geographical correspondence: T.G.                 
                 Birtles, 1985-8; R.H. Greenwood, 1966-68; Ann                  
                 Marshall, 1952-58; RGSA (Qld), 1952-87                         
Folder 5/1/2     - Archie Price, 1951-83; Griffith Taylor, 1951-63;             
                 Text book scandal, 1944-53                                     
Folder 5/1/3     - University of W.A., 1953-4; Webster/Peter Ryan re            
                 Moon man, 1983-84; Arthur Wilcock, 1951-54                     

Box 11
Folder 5/2/1     - Australian correspondence - general, 1953-88                 
Folder 5/3/1     - U.K. correspondence, 1951-88                                 
Folder 5/3/2     - Correspondence with A.J. Toynbee and other papers            
                 re Toynbee, 1950-62                                            
Folder 5/4/1     - USSR correspondence, mainly A.M. Ryabchikov and              
                 I.F. Fyodorovna, 1963-88                                       
Folder 5/5/1     - U.S.A. correspondence, 1950-70                               
Folder 5/5/2     - U.S.A. correspondence, re Francis Drake, 1976-80             
Folder 5/5/3      - U.S.A. correspondence, 1947-88                              

Series 6 India and Pakistan, 1946-87

Box 12

Folder 6/1/1     - Papers re Punjab boundary dispute (Lahore), 1947             
Folder 6/2/1     - Correspondence with Survey of India, 1950-52                 
                 - India and Pakistan maps - correspondence re battle           
                 with Indian bureaucracy, 1966-67                               
Folder 6/2/2     - Correspondence re attempted banning of India and             
                 Pakistan, 1961-70                                              
                 - Correspondence with A.T.A. Learmouth, 1971-76                
                 - Correspondence re Changing map of Asia, 1966-70              
Folder 6/3/1     - Indian correspondence, 1946-87                               
Folder 6/3/2      - Indian correspondence, including re National Atlas          
                 of India, 1956                                                 

Series 7 Australia and the Pacific: Papers re Geography, History and Exploration, 1947-88

Box 13

Folder 7/1/1     - Papers re Portuguese discovery of Australia,                 
                 including correspondence with Armando Cortesao,                
                 1947-79                                                        
Folder 7/1/2     - Papers re Portuguese discovery of Australia:                 
                 - miscellaneous, 1956-83                                       
Folder 7/2/1     - correspondence with W.A. Richardson, 1984-8                  
Folder 7/2/2     - correspondence with K.G. McIntyre and others                 
                 re The Secret discovery of Australia, 1978-88                  
Folder 7/2/3      - reviews, etc., 1978-85                                      
                 - notes and correspondence re "Luso-Australia",                
                 1978-81                                                        
Folder 7/2/4     - notes and correspondence re George A  Collingridge, 1978-82  
Folder 7/3/1     - Correspondence re de Lozier Bouvet, 1962-64                  
Folder 7/3/2     - Reviews, notes, correspondence, pictures, etc. re            
                 Peter Dillon, 1974-75                                          

Box 14
Folder 7/4/1     - Portuguese translations for Australian                       
                 Commonwealth Investigation Service, 1957-63                    
                 - Correspondence with Dr Claudio Veliz (Chile), 1971           
                 - Meanjin and Quadrant correspondence, 1954-60                 
Folder 7/4/2     - Papers re death of J.W. Davidson, 1973                       
                 - Papers re Cook commemoration, Bega High School,              
                 1969-70                                                        
Folder 7/4/3      - Correspondence with Lord Casey re proposed book on          
                 exploration and discovery of Australia, 1966-70                
Folder 7/5/1     - Correspondence and reviews re Australia (Ernest              
                 Benn), 1967-68                                                 
Folder 7/6/1     - Typescript of report on development in PNG, 1953             
Folder 7/6/2     - Typescripts, drafts and other papers re Pacific              
                 history, 1965-85                                               
Folder 7/6/3      - Papers re Pacific history, 1986-88                          

Box 15
Folder 7/7/1     - Miscellaneous Pacific correspondence, 1976-86                
Folder 7/7/2     - Miscellaneous Pacific correspondence, 1967-88,               
                 including with Frank Horner, 1982-87                           
Folder 7/8/1     - Pacific since Magellan - drafts, correspondence,             
                 progress notes, 1970-83                                        
Folder 7/9/1     - Correspondence and reviews re The Spanish lake,              
                 1979-83                                                        
Folder 7/9/2     - Correspondence and reviews re Monopolists and                
                 freebooters, 1983-84                                           

Series 8 Fiji, 1955-70

Folder 8/1/1     - "The Fijian political scene: some reflections",              
                 1959                                                           
                 - Correspondence with H.P. Ritchie and P. MacDonald,           
                 1957-67                                                        
Folder 8/1/2     - Correspondence with R.W. Robson, 1958-60                     
                 - Broadcasts, texts of talks, correspondence,                  
                 clippings, 1958-61                                             
                 - Correspondence with Stuart Inder (Pacific Islands            
                 monthly), 1959-60                                              
Folder 8/1/3     - Miscellaneous papers re 1959 Fiji report, 1957-74            
Folder 8/1/4     - Correspondence with R.R. Nayacakalou, 1958-64                
                 - Notes on village visits, 1958                                
                 - "Personalia", fragments, etc., 1955-58                       

Box 16
Folder 8/2/1     - Papers re Fiji Education Commission, 1968-70                 
                 - Printed copy of Education for modern Fiji, 1969              

Series 9 Scandals, 1954-79

Folder 9/1/1     - UNESCO questionnaire, 1966                                   
                 - Institute of British Geographers "Letter from                
                 afar" - correspondence etc., 1964-65                           
Folder 9/1/2      - Correspondence with Flinders University re                  
                 symposium and book on Matthew Flinders, 1974-79                
Folder 9/1/3     - Correspondence with the University of W.A.:                  
                 - re attack on geography, 1958                                 
                 - re L.A. Noonan Phd., 1969-71                                 
Folder 9/1/4     - Correspondence with International Institute of               
                 Arts and Letters, 1962                                         
                 - Clippings and correspondence re Francis West's               
                 article on ANU, 1954-70                                        
                 - Clippings and correspondence re Daniel Bennett's             
                 Canberra times letter on the House of                          
                 Representatives, 1978-79                                       

Box and Folder List

Series 1 Diaries, 1942-88 (CLOSED)

Box 1                            1942-54
Box 2                            1955-May 1960
Box 3                            1965-69
Box 4                            1970-75
Box 5                            1976-82
Box 6                            1983-88