Monash personal papers now freely available via Trove

General Sir John Monash is best known for his distinguished military career, particularly as a commander on the Western Front in the First World War. But his impact on Australia went far beyond his wartime deeds.

28 October 2020

An enormous collection of Monash’s personal papers, donated to the National Library of Australia in the 1980s, has just been digitised and released on Trove.

The National Library describes Monash as a ‘brilliant polymath, a prolific correspondent, a talented engineer, an avid collector, a meticulous record-keeper, an effective military strategist and a revered figure in Australian public life’, and that he was ‘introspective, passionate, cultured, meticulous and driven’.

Monash’s vast collection contains a huge range of material from First World War telegrams, architectural blueprints, souvenirs from his travels and correspondence with his children. The papers are stored in nearly 300 boxes — about 60 shelfmetres. The collection was donated to the National Library by Monash’s grandchildren David and JCM Bennett and Elizabeth Durré.

Digitising a collection of this nature is a mammoth task, and it has taken the National Library over a year to bring the collection online. It is available by searching Trove or by exploring the Guide to the Papers of General Sir John Monash on Trove.

Monash’s legacy not only lives on through these digital resources, but also in present- day France, with the Sir John Monash Centre, which is set on the grounds of the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery. This year, the Centre has been recognised with a Tripadvisor Traveller’s Choice Award.