About the records


Title Records of Frank Macfarlane Burnet
Date Range 1880 - 1991
Reference Accession 89 34
Creator Frank Macfarlane Burnet (1899 - 1985)
Extent 65 archive boxes
Repository The University of Melbourne Archives
Abstract Macfarlane Burnet was Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne 1944-1966 and in 1960 was awarded the Nobel Prize with Peter Medewar for Physiology and Medicine. He not only played a major role in the development of medical research in Australia but also contributed consistently to the public debate of many social issues including nuclear energy and weapons, environmental concerns and the philosophy of the modern world. This is the first comprehensive set of personal records to be preserved of an Australian Nobel Prize winner in science.

Administrative Information

The gathering together of records to be included in this collection commenced in March 1985 when Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet was contacted by the Australian Science Archives Project. Over the following months records were transferred from Burnet's home to the ASAP office and others were targeted for transfer. This process was not completed before his death in August 1985, but with the help of the family and Chris Sexton, who was then completing a biography of Burnet, a comprehensive set of records relating to Burnet's personal and professional life was compiled over the following years. The donation of the collection to the University of Melbourne Archives was marked by a ceremony on 31 July 1991. This guide is dedicated to Deborah Giddy, F.M. Burnet's youngest daughter, who very sadly died before work on the collection had been finalized, and to Oscar Manhal who did much of the listing of the files but was tragically killed in a motor-bike accident in February 1990.

In March 2001 the lists were rolled into the Heritage Documentation Management System Version 8, and the processed records were retrospectively accessioned. Additions to the collection included the Audio CD copies to Series 18, and the film reel (and Beta and VHS copies) of Linda and Macfarlane Burnets' wedding. A Series was created to specifically deal with the Appendices, that is, list of records held in other archives.

Scope and Content

This is the first comprehensive set of personal records to be preserved of an Australian Nobel Prize winner in science and as such will be of great interest to a large number of researchers and scholars. Burnet, not only played a major role in the development of medical research in Australia but also contributed consistently to the public debate of many social issues including nuclear energy and weapons, environmental concerns and the philosophy of the modern western world.


Published by the Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre on AustehcWeb, November, 2001
With support from The Jack Brockhoff Foundation, The E.B. Myer Charitable Fund and The University of Melbourne
Listed by Gavan McCarthy, Oscar Manhal, Lisa O'Sullivan and Rachel Tropea with Tim Sherratt
HTML edition
Updated 14 May 2008
http://www.austehc.unimelb.edu.au/guides/burn/about.htm

The template for this finding aid is part of the Heritage Documentation Management System

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