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The ADB’s Story

Appendix 1

Time Line

Date

Event

1947

Laurie Fitzhardinge visits Clarendon Press in London to study the publication of the Dictionary of National Biography.

1949

Percival Serle publishes his two-volume Dictionary of Australian Biography.

1951

Laurie Fitzhardinge, at the ANZAAS Congress, calls for the creation of an Australian dictionary of biography.

1954

Fitzhardinge starts the National Register (later called Biographical Register) in the History Department, RSSS, ANU. Pat Tillyard (Wardle) is employed as his clerical assistant.

24–27 August 1957

Conference of Australian historians, convened by Sir Keith Hancock and held at the ANU, agrees in principle to start work on a dictionary of Australian biography.

May 1958

Malcolm Ellis confers with Hancock and Fitzhardinge about the prospect of commencing a dictionary of Australian biography.

November 1958

Ann Mozley (Moyal) is appointed a research assistant (later research fellow) in the history department, RSSS, with a special interest in the development of the Dictionary of Australian Biography.

19 June 1959

First meeting of the Provisional Editorial Committee of the Dictionary of Australian Biography is held in Hancock’s office in the old Canberra Community Hospital, at the ANU.

July 1959

Short list of the National Register is published in roneoed format.

August 1959

Malcolm Ellis submits his plan for the organisation of the Dictionary of Australian Biography.

August 1959

Mozley travels to Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart to establish Dictionary of Australian Biography working parties.

13 October 1959

Hancock invites Ellis and Manning Clark to jointly edit the first two volumes of the Dictionary of Australian Biography.

23–24 April 1960

Joint meeting in Canberra of the Editorial Committee and the National Advisory Panel votes to reconstitute the two committees. The Provisional Editorial Committee is reconstituted as the Editorial Board with responsibility for producing the ADB. The National Advisory Panel is reconstituted as the National Committee whose duty it is to broadly define ADB policy. The chairman of the Editorial Board is to be appointed by the ANU vice-chancellor. The meeting puts on hold the suggestion to appoint a general editor, owing to a lack of funding. The meeting also reluctantly decides to change the name of the dictionary to Australian Dictionary of Biography to avoid confusion with Percival Serle’s earlier publication.

June 1960

Agreement is reached that Ellis and Clark will edit Volumes 1 and 2 respectively, rather than jointly.

August 1960

Anonymous donor (Bushell Trust) pledges £1500 per year for three years to the ADB. It will enable the dictionary to employ researchers and to pay some professional writers for entries.

21 June 1961

A Commonwealth working group on the arts is convened.

July 1961

Updated short list of the Biographical Register is published.

12–13 August 1961

Second general meeting of the National Committee is held.

January 1962

Myer Foundation pledges £1000 per year for three years to the ADB.

31 January 1962

Douglas Pike is appointed the ADB’s first general editor.

2–3 February 1962

Third general meeting of the National Committee is held.

2-3 February 1962

Ellis resigns from the editorship of Volume 1 and the Editorial Board.

6 February 1962

Editorial Board appoints A. G. L. Shaw editor of Volume 1.

11 April 1962

Manning Clark agrees to act with general editor, Douglas Pike, as joint editor of Volume 2.

12–13 August 1962

Pacific and armed services specialist working groups are convened; plans are made for scientific and medical working groups.

April 1963

New edition of the Biographical Register short list is published.

6 June 1963

Ellis resigns from the National Committee.

7–8 June 1963

Fourth general meeting of the National Committee is held.

13 August 1964

Fifth general meeting of the National Committee is held.

15 December 1964

Publishing agreement is signed by the ANU and Melbourne University Press.

12 November 1965

Hancock resigns as chair of the ADB Editorial Board and National Committee. Geoffrey Sawer is appointed temporary chairman.

3 March 1966

Sir Robert Menzies, recently retired prime minister, launches Volume 1 of the ADB at the ANU.

4 March 1966

Sixth general meeting of the National Committee is held.

John La Nauze is appointed chairman of the Editorial Board and National Committee.

February 1967

ANU agrees to pay a subsidy to MUP to ensure that Volume 2 of the ADB has the same price as Volume 1.

2 March 1967

Volume 2 of the ADB is published.

1969

Volume 3 of the ADB is published.

1969

Sections of the Biographical Register are published in mimeograph form.

November 1969

Pike receives the Ernest Scott Prize for his work on Volumes 1 and 2 of the ADB.

1971

Pike receives the 1971 Britannica Australasia Award for his work with the ADB.

28–29 October 1971

Seventh and last general meeting of the National Committee is held.

September 1972

Volume 4 of the ADB is published.

1973

Bede Nairn is appointed acting general editor.

1973

Volume 5 of the ADB is published.

1973

Biographical Register comprises more than 50 000 cards.

1974

Armed Services Working Party is formed.

1975

Bede Nairn and Geoff Serle are appointed joint general editors of the ADB.

October 1976

Brian Gandevia agrees to advise ADB staff on precise causes of death for subjects in the dictionary.

October 1976

Volume 6 of the ADB is published.

1 April 1977

Ken Inglis is appointed chair of the ADB Editorial Board.

1979

Volume 7 of the ADB is published.

November 1979

Editorial Board decides to dismantle the National Committee (it is formally abolished in 1983 with the consent of its members) and expand the State membership of the Editorial Board.

1981

Volume 8 of the ADB is published.

23 November 1983

Ninian Stephen, governor-general, launches Volume 9 of the ADB at Government House.

1984

Bede Nairn retires as joint general editor; Serle continues as the sole general editor.

1986

ADB desk editors, who were classified as research assistants, successfully seek an increase in their salary and formal status as research editors.

1986

University review committee reports favourably on the ADB.

1986

Keith Hancock launches Volume 10 of the ADB at the ANU.

1987

ADB’s Biographical Register 1788–1939 is published.

March 1988

John Ritchie is appointed general editor of the ADB.

17 October 1988

Bernard Smith launches Volume 11 of the ADB at the University of Melbourne.

1989

Commonwealth Working Party is formed.

7 November 1990

Bob Hawke, prime minister, launches Volume 12 of the ADB at Parliament House, Canberra.

14 October 1991

Senator Margaret Reid launches the index to Volumes 1–12 of the ADB at the ANU.

25 November 1993

Senator Jim McClelland launches Volume 13 of the ADB at the State Library of New South Wales.

February 1995

The Humanities Research Centre, ANU, the National Library of Australia and the ADB hold a conference on ‘National Biographies and National Identity’. The conference proceedings are published as National Biographies & National Identity.

1 June 1996

Ken Inglis resigns as chairman of the ADB Editorial Board.

28 June 1996

Jill Roe is appointed chair of the ADB Editorial Board.

29 October 1996

Guy Green, Tasmanian governor, launches Volume 14 of the ADB.

1997

ADB Endowment Fund is launched with major donations from Caroline Simpson and the Myer Foundation.

1997

CD-ROM of Volumes 1–12 of the ADB is published by MUP.

11 April 2000

Major General Michael Jeffery, WA governor, launches Volume 15 of the ADB.

2002

Editorial Board subcommittee review of the ADB says the ADB must embrace ‘continuity and change’ through continued publication of the ADB and participation in the modern research culture.

12 November 2002

Marjorie Jackson-Nelson, SA governor, launches Volume 16 of the ADB.

2004

Di Langmore is appointed general editor of the ADB after acting in the position for three years.

2005

Meredith Burgmann launches the ADB supplement volume in Sydney.

2005

Indigenous Working Party is formed.

2006

Jill Roe resigns as chair of the ADB Editorial Board; she is succeeded by Tom Griffiths.

2006

Review of the RSSS calls for the ADB to be financially self-sufficient in five years.

6 July 2006

Michael Jeffery, governor-general, launches the ADB online at University House, ANU.

2007

Gregory Review of the ADB recommends the establishment of a National Centre of Biography (NCB), which would continue to produce the ADB and act as a focus for the study of biography.

November 2007

David de Kretser, Victorian governor, launches Volume 17 of the ADB.

2 June 2008

Melanie Nolan is appointed director of the NCB and general editor of the ADB.

December 2009

The ADB celebrates its fiftieth birthday with a conference, ‘Between the Past and Present: Celebrating the ADB’s 50th anniversary’, and a closed workshop on ‘The ADB and Digital Culture’.

1 January 2010

The NCB is integrated into the School of History, RSSS.

April 2011

Obituaries Australia is launched as a replacement for the Biographical Register.

March 2012

The NCB develops three new biographical web sites, Women Australia, Labour Australia and People Australia, as companion sites to the ADB.

5 December 2012

Penelope Wensley, Queensland Governor, launches Volume 18 of the ADB.

11 December 2012

ANU Vice-Chancellor, Ian Young, launches the online version of Volume 18 of the ADB.


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