James Johnston Auchmuty (1909–1981) was born in Portadown, Northern Ireland, and educated at Armagh Royal School and Trinity College, Dublin. He was a lecturer in the School of Education at Dublin University from 1936 to 1946 and then became Assistant Professor of History at Farouk University in Alexandria. Along with all other British staff, he was forced to leave Egypt in 1951. He emigrated to Australia and took up a position at the University of New South Wales. From 1955 to 1964 he was Professor of History at Newcastle University College. He was appointed Warden of the College in 1960 and led the struggle for its independence. In 1965 he became the first Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle. He retired in 1974 and in his later years lived in Canberra.

Auchmuty was the author of The United States Government and Latin American Independence 1810–1830 (1937), Sir Thomas Wyse 1791–1862: The Life and Career of an Educator and Diplomat (1939) and Lecky: A Biographical and Critical Essay (1945). He also edited The Voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay (1970). He was Chairman of the Australian Humanities Research Council (1962–65), Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee (1969–71) and Commonwealth Advisory Committee on the Teaching of Asian Languages and Cultures in Australia (1970).


In 1983 Margaret Auchmuty, the wife of James Auchmuty, donated his collection of Irish books to the Library under the Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme.


The Auchmuty Collection is a small collection consisting of 100 books and pamphlets and 29 serials. The books were mostly published in the period 1900–50 and relate to the history of Ireland from Norman times onwards, the Irish Free State, Ulster, Anglo–Irish relations, Catholic and Protestant churches in Ireland, and education, libraries and learned societies in Ireland. The serials are mostly Irish publications and include reports of the Church of Ireland, proceedings and other publications of the Royal Irish Academy, and journals of historical and archaeological societies. In some instances there are only single issues, but there are somewhat more substantial runs of The Bell (1940–43) and The Irish Digest (1938–54).


The Auchmuty Collection has been kept together as a collection. The publications have been catalogued individually and the call numbers have the prefix AUC or AUCH.

Related Collection

Most of Auchmuty’s books and his personal papers are held in the Auchmuty Library at the University of Newcastle. The papers mostly relate to his work as Warden and Vice-Chancellor of the University.


Dutton, K.R., Auchmuty: The Life of James Johnston Auchmuty (1909–1981), Boombana Publications, Brisbane, 2000.

Dutton, Kenneth R. James Johnston Auchmuty (1909-1981), in Australian Dictionary of Biography online

First posted 2008 (revised 2019)