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Jean Primrose Whyte



What a richly rewarding life you have made out of librarianship!1


There are themes which run through much of Jean’s work and life which I have not written about earlier, many because they extend over more than one chapter of her life. I have divided these themes into work and life and will begin with those about her work, although many people would echo Joan Brewer when she said of Jean ‘libraries were her whole life’.2 More than that, as George Pitt said, ‘What a richly rewarding life you have made out of librarianship! We both remember the rather placid, unenterprising, drifting career it seemed to offer. Not now!’3 Jean’s life was rewarding, her career had not been placid, unenterprising or drifting, and later in life it led to various honours.

Jean had been awarded a Fellowship of the LAA in 1963; she said that she was a Fellow ‘by birthright more than merit’ because all foundation members were automatically created Fellow.4 She received the H.C.L. Anderson Award, appropriately, at the LAA’s 50th anniversary in 1987. Jean’s citation – two A4 pages – begins:

The H.C.L. Anderson Award may be conferred on a professional member of the Association ‘who has rendered outstanding service to librarianship or to the library profession in Australia or to the Library Association of Australia or to the theory and practice of librarianship’. Professor Jean Whyte satisfies eminently every single one of these criteria.5

Another honour was Member of the Order of Australia (AM), awarded in 1988 ‘for services to education, particularly in the field of librarianship’.6 It was, her friend Agnes Gregory wrote, ‘some sort of recognition for all the blood, sweat and tears you’ve put in on behalf of the profession. When we talk about the giants there used to be in the old days, we sometimes forget that there are a few of them still extant’.7

Importantly to Jean, on her retirement she was awarded the title of Professor Emeritus as ‘a formal recognition of the high esteem by which you will always be remembered at Monash’8 (‘Professor Emeritus’ was conferred; it was not a rite of passage on the retirement of a Monash professor). Later, Monash awarded her an Honorary Doctor of Letters (Hon DLitt). Jean said, in her acceptance, ‘I realize that this invitation is indeed an honour and I accept it in the belief that, in so doing, librarianship is also honoured’.9 The award was presented at a graduation ceremony, where Jean was described as a ‘distinguished Australian librarian’;10 she gave the Graduation Address, which was another version of ‘A word from Callimachus’.11

Jean wrote ‘A word from Callimachus’ in 1957 and tinkered with it for the rest of her life. It is remarkable for its breadth of scholarship, whimsicality and longevity – 43 years from its first publication to its last. It portrays library history in poetry, imitating the language and poetic form of various periods. It is a history of librarianship, named in honour of the Greek scholar and poet Callimachus of Cyrene, Librarian of Alexandria, who created the first national author bibliography.12 Jean refers to Callimachus as one of the first librarians whose name is known. She casts him in a supernatural role as a living witness to the history of libraries – ‘he has lived as long as the world has had libraries, and he lives today. I saw him last night in the stacks’.13 Its final form The Poems of Callimachus, was hand-set and printed by the Ancora Press at Monash in 2000, thus combining Jean’s interests in poetry, library history and hand-printing.14

Hand-printing had become a hobby during Jean’s time at the University of Sydney (although she was already interested in typography). Andrew Osborn bought two printing presses for what became the Fisher (later Piscator) Press, set up by Harrison Bryan,15 which Jean used for printing and teaching at the University of Sydney. Her interest continued at Monash, where she founded the Ancora Press in 1976. Jean and her friend Margery Ramsay arranged for the State Library of Victoria to transfer to Monash on indefinite loan an Albion Press,16 on which the first Ancora imprint was produced, a keepsake for the Friends of the Monash University Library. Professor Arthur Brown, Chair of the English Department at Monash, bought a Columbian Press (now at the entrance to the Matheson Library at Monash Clayton); Jean thought that while the Columbian was a magnificent press, looking ‘resplendent in black and gold and red’, the Albion was probably more reliable.17 Like the Piscator at the University of Sydney, the Ancora Press was used for teaching, including bibliography and textual studies in the GSL and other Monash departments.

The hand-press operation was named the Bibliographical Laboratory18 until Jean suggested that the name be changed to ‘Ancora’, which was derived from the Monash motto ‘Ancora imparo’ (I am still learning); the anchor was a common device among early printers, and, appropriately, Ancora was housed in the Library basement. When Prince Charles visited Monash a security cordon cut the students and staff off from the press, but Jean used her authority to insist that she be allowed into the building, saying: ‘I’m a professor. Let me through’.19 The press is now housed at Monash Caulfield Campus and continues to produce hand-set booklets and to act as an informal teaching press, while also being central to the artists’ book program in the Faculty of Art and Design.

Hand-printing was one of Jean’s many interests which were a way of preserving the past; other aspects included conservation, archives, rare books and library history. Jean taught classes on conservation such as the ‘Production, publication, history and care of books’ in Sydney and introduced a subject on the conservation of library materials at Monash, taught by Ross Harvey – forward thinking for the time, as conservation of library materials was not a subject popular with librarians.20 Also at Monash Jean had introduced a post-graduate degree in archives and records management. Her interest in archives began under the early influences of George Pitt and Andrew Osborn, who wrote that ‘the oldest function of the librarian is conservation’.21 And her interest in rare books (perhaps begun at the PLSA when so many books were discarded) was in evidence at the University of Sydney, the NLA, the Friends groups she belonged to, and in her donations to purchase rare books.

Jean’s interest in Australian library history began when she started to teach librarianship.22 At Monash she taught Historical Studies in Australian Librarianship, which included biography in Australian librarianship – the people were more interesting to Jean than were the institutions (I agree): ‘our libraries have been made as much by people as by systems and legislation. Those individuals were librarians and benefactors. Often they were fiercely committed and unreasonable’.23 In the following extract from Uniting a Profession note that Jean placed ‘who’ before ‘how’: ‘the chronology – the ‘when?’ – is not difficult, but when we start to ask the more interesting questions of ‘why?’ and ‘who?’ and ‘how?’ the answers are not so readily found. Those which are readily found are not always convincing’.24 She wrote many articles on library history, possibly more than on any other subject, as her later articles began with a historical overview; she also provided Monash support to establish and continue the Library History Forums.

The first Library History Forum, held at Monash in 1984, was the idea of GSL staff member Elizabeth Morrison, who, with Michael Talbot, the GSL’s first PhD. graduate, edited that Forum’s papers: Books, libraries and readers in Colonial Australia.25 At subsequent forums, when Jean was sometimes acknowledged as their initiator, she would stand and say ‘I just want to make a correction, Elizabeth Morrison started it’.26 But Morrison acknowledges that it is what Jean wanted, it was just that Jean did not think of it first.27 Jean supported and was involved in organizing some of the subsequent conferences; she was the chief organizer of the 1989 conference, the papers from which she edited with Frank Upward.28 The forums continue in various locations around Australia; the 9th was held in Melbourne in June 2009.

The forums were another way of preserving the past, as was Jean’s interest in writing the history of Australian libraries: she worked on writing the history as long as she was able. At first she planned two books on the subject, the first to be a collection of articles by various authors which she would edit, the second her own larger work on the history of the Associations, both of which she wanted to publish in time for the LAA’s 50th anniversary in 1987.29 But it was not to be. The history of the Institute was published as Uniting A Profession, completed after Jean’s death by David Jones,30 who wrote that she

was fascinated by the origins of professional library associations in Australia and intrigued by the actions and motives of the people who created them. As a library educator, she was curious about the genesis of the Institute’s system of library training and examinations. As a participant, she was interested in the workings of Branches and Committees, their achievements and their failures. As a frequent delegate, she hoped to provide an assessment of the significance of the Institute’s conferences. Perhaps most of all, as a keen observer of people in action, Jean found the study of the leading figures in the Institute and their relationships with each other – the core of any association – especially absorbing. The fact that she had met or corresponded with many of the foundation members gave an added dimension to any historical study which she would undertake. Little wonder, then, that she was stimulated to delve into the diverse and scattered records of the Institute and, indeed, found it hard to stop delving and to start writing …

Jean worked her way methodically through AIL documents in a number of libraries and archives, making copies of the most relevant items or sitting in a reading room or at a borrowed desk in the Association’s old Ultimo building whispering notes into a tape recorder for later transcription … her research was a lengthy process – she was for most of this period running a demanding department at Monash University and had, of course, many other calls on her time … She mastered one computer and word processing programme and then another, carefully backing up copies of her drafts, gradually becoming aware that she might run out of time and that someone might have to take over the project from her.

No-one could be as well equipped as Jean – a contemporary observer and a rigorous scholar – to tackle the history of the Institute … Jean saw this history as in part repaying a debt which she believed she owed to the profession. I see completion of this work rather as a part repayment of the much larger debt which I, in common with other library and information professionals in Australia, owe to Jean Whyte.31

Jean’s involvement with the Associations – the Institute and the LAA – had begun when she started work at the PLSA, and it continued throughout her working life and into her retirement. She was consultant to the LAA 50th-anniversary celebrations in 1987,32 having been involved in the entire length of the LAA’s life. I have tried to track Jean’s involvement with the LAA, which has been a daunting task, as it was multifarious, and I think that Jean became selective when she recorded her committee memberships. She began her Institute committee work in 1946 and continued attending Institute and LAA committees, meetings and conferences throughout her career, as well as encouraging others to attend. She was an examiner for most of her career, and John Lowe, who was an examiner with her in New South Wales, said that Jean suggested asking students to discuss a quotation; John asked her which one, and she replied that one could be made up, that she had made up dozens in her time.33

Examining was part of the involvement in Jean’s long association with the Board of Examination, from 1955 to 1968, and from 1971 to 1977,34 being Deputy Chair 1960–1962 and Chair 1962–196335 (succeeding Wilma Radford). During this time the Board was known variously as the Board of Education, the Board of Examiners, the Board of Examination and the Board of Examination, Certification and Registration of Librarians. The Board dealt with Registration examinations, qualifications for membership of the Association, recognition of qualifications of overseas applicants, new qualifications and courses, course accreditation, etc.

While in the Chair Jean played a leading role in the decision that future members of the LAA would have to be university graduates. This was a stormy period for the LAA, as members argued about whether ‘graduate’ required a post-graduate degree or whether an undergraduate one (in librarianship) would suffice. The argument caused ‘deep division’ within the profession until 1968, when an undergraduate degree in librarianship was accepted as fulfilling the requirements for membership.36 Jean’s view was that librarians should be graduates with a bachelor’s degree (in another field) as well as qualifications in librarianship.37

Also while Jean was Chair a new syllabus was introduced for Registration, but possibly the Board’s most important action during her membership was the move from examining students to accrediting courses offered by library schools, as education for librarianship was moving from in-house library training to stand-alone library schools, as Jean advocated. This process began with the LAA’s decision in 1961 to recognize the Diploma of the University of New South Wales Postgraduate School of Librarianship and led, gradually, to the end of the Association’s role as an examining body and the phasing out of Registration. When Jean chaired the Board it began to consider how to respond to the increasing number of library schools. The Board took on responsibility for the accreditation of courses (setting up the Accreditation Sub-Committee in 1971, with Jean as the first convenor).38 The Board looked at the types of courses which could be accredited and how to assist tertiary education institutions in setting up such courses, and it was continually involved with advising, negotiating and discussing these courses with the institutions.39 With Jean’s involvement it is no surprise that accreditation was on the American Library Association pattern, and she was responsible for the first ‘Statement on recognition of courses in librarianship’.40 In an interesting twist of fate Jean was a Board member when the possibility of setting up a library school at Monash was discussed. She wrote: ‘I said openly that we welcomed the setting up of schools at Monash and Adelaide Universities’.41 The GSL was set up in accord with guidelines which she had helped prepare, and it was this same Board which accredited and reaccredited its courses.

Membership of the Board required a considerable amount of travel and work: ‘I think it is the sort of committee that requires constant attendance and that is worrying enough even for those of us who are constantly involved in the game’.42 And it had a large mandate, with, in 1962, 919 candidates sitting for the examination in 46 centres, including seven located overseas.43

Why was the Board so important to Jean? In her first published article on librarianship she wrote that ‘the greatest single factor contributing towards the realization of [the Institute’s objectives] … is the appointment of a Board of Examination and Certification’44 – the objectives of the Institute being ‘to unite persons engaged in library work, and to improve the standard of librarianship and the status of the library profession in Australia’.45 Although this was written so early in Jean’s career, her opinion did not change. She also wanted the best people on the Board – as early as 1959 she wrote: ‘I can probably fix (or rather suggest) the SA and Tasmanian votes. The Board is the important body & we want the best people’.46

Another LAA involvement was attending their conferences, seeing them as an important function of the Association in seeking to improve standards of librarianship.47 The first conference Jean attended was the 1946 Institute Conference in Hobart, and she continued to attend Association conferences throughout her career, giving lectures and seminars at many; she was also known to be good at questioning other speakers (this was a trait often commented on, from the Metcalf Seminar to the Library History Forums). She chaired the Adelaide 1957 conference committee48 and edited the proceedings of the 16th Conference.49 The last time Jean spoke at an LAA conference she said: ‘I do not think that I shall appear again upon a conference platform – but don’t expect complete silence. After all I am a life member’.50

Jean’s LAA involvement gave her a national profile: as she wrote to Guy Manton, she was ‘well known in the profession in Australia’, so he could ask anyone he pleased what they thought of her.51 She was well known through her editorship of ALJ, her membership of many committees and her attendance at conferences, and also because of her work at the NLA. She was also a member of the Council of the NLA from 1981 to 1987,52 appointed to represent librarians,53 the first woman to be a member, and the first librarian, ‘the only voice of librarianship on that body ever, apart from successive Directors General’.54 Ken Myer was the Council Chair, Harrison Bryan the Director General (following the retirement of George Chandler in 1980). Bryan had proposed that Jean become a Council member, perhaps in the hope of influencing the Council towards his views.55 She visited Canberra frequently for Council meetings but saved money by staying with friends and returning the fee she received as a Council member to the NLA to purchase materials.56 Another NLA Committee of which Jean became a member was the Advisory Committee in the Humanities. Here she represented the LAA from 1976 until 1982.57

Jean was also a member of the COPQ Expert Panel on Librarianship from 1971, when it was founded, until it was disbanded in 1979. COPQ was set up by the Minister for Immigration to assess the qualifications held by people educated in other countries who wished to work in Australia. Jean assisted here not only with her ability to assess the qualifications of librarians but also by visiting library schools when she travelled overseas.58 Jean said that her association with COPQ had ‘shown that our Australia-wide system has much to commend it, and is a state towards which other professions aspire’.59 Jean combined her experience of teaching, examining, Board membership and COPQ membership in her article ‘Control and diversity: a short history of course recognition in Australia’, as well as editing Librarianship in Australia for COPQ.60

Jean was involved with many other associations and societies, including international interests, begun at school with her support for the World Federal Union; also in her South Australian years she was a member of the Australian Institute of International Affairs and the United Nations Association, and in Canberra she was a member of the Australia-China Society.61 She was also a member of a number of international and overseas librarianship associations, giving her a broader perspective for Australian librarianship, such as the Canadian Library Association,62 the American Library Association and its Divisions of Library Education, and Resources and Technical Services,63 and the Beta Phi Mu Honour Society in Librarianship.64

Other groups Jean was a member of at different times included the English Association,65 the Fellowship of Australian Writers, the Fulbrighters Association,66 the Book Collectors Society,67 the Australian Institute of International Affairs, the UN Association,68 the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand,69 and the Association of College and Research Libraries.70 She was keen on supporting libraries she was associated with by joining Friends of the Library organizations, becoming a member of the Friends of the Public Library of South Australia,71 of the Sydney University Library (which she helped to establish),72 and of the Monash University Library, continuing her active association with the Monash Friends after her retirement.

The variety of librarianship issues Jean was interested in covered (almost) the whole spectrum of librarianship, as can be seen by her large and varied published output, especially the variety of books she reviewed. I will look, briefly, at a few of these interests, chosen because they are not mentioned elsewhere in this biography or because of their importance to her.

The first is her interest in library buildings, perhaps an interest arising from the poor state of the PLSA buildings (she spent years in temporary accommodation) and continuing with new buildings: the ‘new’ Fisher, and the four-year-old NLA. Jean was appointed to the Library Council of Victoria and the Council of the NLA in the same week in 1981, staying on both until 1987. Membership of the former led to membership of the State Library of Victoria Building Advisory Committee when controversial plans for redeveloping the State Library were being considered. Jean resigned from the Committee, disappointed by the state government’s ‘recycling a monument to nineteenth century librarianship’.73

Reader education was another long-term interest, an underlying theme of her report ‘Who uses a University Library, why and to what effect’.74 The report was the result of the largest survey of borrowers and loans ever in Australia, carried out at the University of Sydney, and the value lay in Jean’s description of the survey’s purpose. It was later re-published in a collection of what the LAA considered the most important statements made in their own publications.75

A further long-term interest was the provision of information in languages other than English, begun with the Adelaide Lending Service; she recalled at her retirement ‘all the displaced persons as we called them in those days, coming in to borrow from our small but hard won collection of books in foreign languages’.76 At Monash there was an emphasis on services in languages other than English.

A theme, rather than a deliberate interest, was Jean’s pattern of involvement in new and groundbreaking work: her involvement with setting up the Adelaide Lending Service and being appointed to a position there reserved for men, and perhaps her work with the provision of material in languages other than English; being one of the earliest librarians to study overseas; her editorship of ALJ; at the Fisher the development of services to undergraduates, ‘almost unbelievably in advance of any previous achievement in this country’;77 the pioneering work in technology and, at the NLA, using technology to extend the ways material was provided nationally; her ranking in the public service; and setting up the GSL.

The area of librarianship Jean was longest associated with was teaching. Her ability to teach was a family trait: Alexander Macully, the teacher of elocution and the art of reading; Kitty, who was ‘second to none in her methods of teaching and instilling confidence in her pupils’;78 and Billie, who was known for her teaching ability. Harrison Bryan was to refer to Jean as ‘a born teacher and teaching, in my view, is what she has done best’.79 In her retirement speech notes she wrote: ‘Images that I recall with so much satisfaction … the first day that I stood in front of a class and lectured (on classification) – 1948 and, after the first 15 minutes of nerves, knew that this was something I liked doing’.80 Teaching librarianship was to be the path which Jean would follow for the rest of her career, although teaching was part-time until her last position, and from the beginning her students were wanted by libraries.

Jean’s life is the story of education for librarianship in Australia in the 20th century. Did I say why education for librarianship was important to Jean? She said it clearly herself in 1949:

Our most pressing need is more education for librarianship, but let us not lose sight of the reasons for this education. We want better librarians to organize better libraries because we believe in books for their help in the ordinary business of living and working, and for the happiness and wisdom that is in them, and because we know that the proper functioning of a Democratic state depends upon the education of the people.81

Yet another long-term interest was also an unhappy association, that of dealing with technology (as it was for many people in the sixties and seventies, when the technology was new and more difficult to use). At the Fisher and at the NLA Jean had to deal with enormous changes in library automation. She recognized the value of automation, took a leading role in implementing its use in libraries, made sure that it was taught from the beginning at the GSL, but found it difficult to deal with on a personal level.82 She said: ‘I think the computer is in libraries to stay and it’s important and I think we take it over rather than it takes us over’.83

One more long-term interest was censorship, both within and outside librarianship. Censorship is a perennial topic: as I first wrote this chapter there was public debate on an exhibition in Melbourne of photographs of naked children, and as I edited it I was asked to sign a petition against Internet censorship. An early memory of Jean’s was of

a Member of the Board of Governors of the Public Library of South Australia telling me that the nine volume set of the Memoirs of Casanova should not be on the open shelves of the library – it was immoral. He finished by asking, ‘Reach me down volume seven please Miss Whyte, I’ve just returned volume six’. He was a small man.84

Most librarians were against censorship and in favour of freedom to read, so Jean’s opposition to censorship, perhaps influenced by George Pitt,85 is not surprising, but it was held with surprising fierceness. She first publicly opposed censorship at an Institute meeting in 1946: ‘23rd July. Misses Whyte, Gledhill and Laughton discussed with some vigour “Censorship and the Library”’.86 At that meeting ‘Miss Whyte condemned censorship for adult readers’.87 Her attitude would later have been compounded by her U.S. experience and by her editorship of ALJ during the time of public discussion of censorship, in particular in libraries, by the banning of books (such as Lady Chatterley’s Lover), and by bizarre behaviour (this was the time of Sir Arthur Rylah’s ‘teenage daughter’).88 For example:

The ‘Bizarre’ Mayor

Barry Humphries’ Book ‘Bizarre’ is now back in the Moorabbin (Victoria) Library.

Earlier in the year the mayor of Moorabbin, Cr. R. Butler, directed the Town Clerk to have ‘a certain book’ withdrawn from the Library. At the time Cr. Butler said that he had not read all the book, but had seen some of the cartoons and plates and professed not to understand the cartoons.

The Mayor in a press interview gave three reasons for his action. He regards it as positive action in regard to the increasing number of sex maniacs and maintenance claims. Secondly, he feels that there must be some form of censorship in all things. ‘You are not entitled to take opium, or liquor above a certain strength. The same applies to literature.’ Thirdly, three copies at $10.00 each! ‘I think the money could have been better spent.’

During the period of the books withdrawal, the Moorabbin Public Librarian continued to take reservations for it …89

Jean’s simplest expression of her opposition to censorship, and the reasons behind it, is to be found in her Presidential Message of 1949:

We do not serve the majority alone but all men whatever their needs, whatever their political, religious or social ideas. The test of Democracy after all is not whether the majority rule, but whether the minority is free. Service to the few can be only too easily overlooked because it does not improve our statistics and because their influence for the cause of libraries is negligible.

As librarians, we can have no political, religious or other bias, but we are not therefore neutral. We believe in the freedom of the written word and must oppose censorship and restriction as strongly as the American Library Association is opposing it …90

The high point of Jean’s opposition to censorship was to come in the LAA campaign ‘to persuade the librarians of Australia to take a stand against censorship’.91 The campaign began with a Presidential address by Jean’s friend W.G.K. Duncan, then Professor of History and Political Science at the University of Adelaide. Duncan argued that a librarian’s ‘vocation is to promote and foster the free flow of information and ideas throughout his community’,92 a statement which Jean published in ALJ and later referred to as ‘the most significant statement of professional attitudes to censorship that has appeared in the Journal’.93 But to Jean it ‘seemed to those librarians who agreed with the 1961 president that their professional association would never take a firm stand’.94

Jean continued her campaign: the June 1964 issue of ALJ highlighted the censorship controversy. It included a ten-page article by John Bray, Q.C. (a long-time friend of Jean and Chief Justice of South Australia), which was ‘an excellent statement of the folly of censorship’.95 Frederick May outlined other follies in ‘The concupiscence of the oppressor: some notes on the absurdity of the book censorship’.96 May was ‘the brilliant, if controversial’97 Professor of Italian at the University of Sydney and a close friend of Jean. His article included examples of material which had been censored in Australia; Wilma Radford called the article ‘an anthology of erotica, a scholarly study of some erotic passages in various literatures, and what its subtitle stated it to be: some notes on the absurdity of the book censorship’.98

The ALJ issue provoked a storm, as Jean had hoped: the next issue contained five pages of correspondence discussing censorship: ‘For the first time in the life of the Australian Library Journal its readers have been sufficiently stirred by its contents to write a number of letters to the Editor … [the Editor] welcomes articles of a highly controversial nature from members of the Association because only by fearless debate and informed consideration can the members of the Library Association of Australia decide on their professional attitudes and further the objects of the Association’.99 Most correspondents favoured May’s opinions and congratulated ALJ for publishing them. For example:

Dear Madam

I felt quite proud that the ‘profession’ has gone ahead to the extent that May’s article could be printed in its Journal. It seems to me that this is worth a hundred pompous letters to the press against censorship or waffly resolutions at meetings. Instead we are seriously and emphatically considering censorship.

Whether it was prudent to publish the article I don’t know, but your reader response will have shown that. I’m sure it was right to publish it.

For my part, thanks,

Jack Ward

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne.100

And Pitt’s (personal) letter to congratulate Jean: ‘You have fired a fierce and well-aimed broadside into the prudish absurdities of literary censorship … you have made library history in Australia, setting up another mile-post on the road to literary freedom here’.101

The ALJ issue was praised outside librarianship, but Jean’s effort was not just to secure material for the correspondence pages: it was to stir the LAA to action to endorse a statement on censorship – as Jean demanded in her editorial of the issue, ‘it is time that the Library Association of Australia announced publically and unequivocally where it stands on the issue of censorship and the freedom to read’, which could be ‘invoked whenever a librarian was faced with attempts to suppress and censor the books in his library’.102 The LAA was moved to endorse the ‘Statement of Principles on Freedom to Read’ in 1964,103 which ‘helped libraries to adopt a position concerning censorship in general and to resist attempts to censor particular books during the next decade’104 – for example:

Censorship in Sandringham

The Sandringham [Victoria] Council decided to remove Edna O’Brien’s Girls in their Married Bliss from its shelves and rebuked the Librarian, Mr. [Lee] Ellis, for not selecting the right type of book. Mr. Ellis in his reply cited the L.A.A.’s Statement on Freedom to Read.

A committee of ‘interested citizens’ was formed to wage a campaign against the Council’s decision … The campaign has not, so far, succeeded in reversing the Council’s decision, but it should deter similar decisions in the future.105

Jean wrote of one of the battles in her poem ‘Namoi Regional Library bans “The Thin Red Line”’, which ends:

Our women hear, but must not read these words men only say,

To keep our wives and children pure we’ve thrown the book away.

No matter what the critics say we councilors know best

How to preserve the morals of the women of the West.106

Jean wrote a lot about censorship, including ‘Trends abroad: Australia’ for Library Trends, an international journal.107 She began writing this as a joint paper on intellectual freedom in Australia and New Zealand with Geoffrey Alley, retired National Librarian of New Zealand. Their ideas differed, and so they wrote separate articles on their own countries, with Jean’s being characterized as ‘impressionistic and fairly gloomy’, with observations such as ‘to try to state whether intellectual freedom exists in Australia today, and if so to what extent, is a task which increases in difficulty as the evidence is gathered’.108 As well as writing, Jean chaired the LAA’s Freedom to Read Committee,109 spoke about censorship, asked her friends to speak about it at meetings,110 and was a member of committees on censorship in libraries111 and of the LAA working party on the LAA ‘Statement on Free Library Service to All’.112 Her opposition to censorship carried through to all material, including seeing as a censor a librarianship student who did not want to stock books which trivialized women.113

Jean was involved in another censorship row which erupted in the 1970s. A group named Library Workers Against Uranium Mining was formed. The problem, as this group saw it, was that available information on uranium, including information from the government (which planned to restrict information on uranium being made available to the public), was not impartial; therefore materials against uranium mining should be made available in libraries. In her 1977 ALJ article ‘Head not heart: why I am against Library Workers Against Uranium Mining’ Jean wrote again of the importance of freedom of information, that ‘the library must never try either to suppress or to promote any of the evidence or any of the argument. It can only promote the seeking of information, debate, discussion and understanding’.114 She was, she explained, against the existence of a library group which promoted only one side of an argument, whether for or against uranium. Helen Modra, in her thesis ‘The short march: social responsibility in Australian librarianship 1970–1983’, described Jean’s attitude as ‘the classic liberal arguments in support of intellectual freedom, in which active promotion of issues was not seen as commensurate with professional obligations. [Whyte] has certainly earned her reputation in the profession as a staunch supporter of intellectual freedom during the sixties in particular, and was understandably cautious about any sort of activity that might appear to be incompatible with intellectual freedom principles’. Jean commented that she was ‘not against considering social issues but [she was] against a party line’.115 Both sides wanted information to be available, but Jean’s chief concern was with the name of the group, which implied that they represented one side only. That Jean upheld the idea that both sides of an argument should be represented in libraries is seen in her 1966 ALJ editorial ‘Are we failing our public?’,116 where she wrote about the need to ensure both sides of the debate over the Vietnam War were available in libraries, deploring the lack of materials opposing the War, to the extent of advising readers where material on peace could be found and acquired. Perhaps her attitude could be summarised in ‘A word from Callimachus’, where she wrote: ‘Librarians defend the right of man to read what ’ere he will’.117

To return, now, to Jean’s other professional interests. She was also interested in library administration, becoming early on in her career a Councillor for professional officers in the South Australian Public Service Association118 and later a member of the Royal Institute of Public Administration Regional Group (in Canberra).119 These memberships may have politicized her to think about her own rights and prepared her for the administrative role at Monash, where she showed her ability in administration and leadership. And, by holding the senior position at Monash, at last she did not need to defend the views of a senior librarian whom she did not agree with, and, instead of Andrew Osborn’s mixture of impractical, infuriating and brilliant ideas, Jean’s administration of the GSL was characterized by ideas which were practical and usable.

I think that we could say that a world perspective could be called an interest. Jean travelled for work and pleasure, taught in Canada, and gave her paper at the Conference of Directors of Scientific Information Centres in the Asian-Pacific Region in Hong Kong in 1963. She was among the earliest Australian librarians to gain overseas qualifications and kept up friendships with those she had met in the United States through visits there, having some visit Australia, to the benefit of students at Monash. She wrote about Australia for various overseas journals and reviewed books on librarianship in other countries. And she wrote of librarianship from a world perspective, with the lack of resources in Australia being a constant theme. Her style of librarianship had an overseas influence, a North American slant, perhaps begun with Pitt, dominated by Chicago (GLS) and Canada (SLIS), and increased by her association with Osborn (and reinforced by her antipathy for the British George Chandler) – she wrote to Osborn of professional loneliness in Australia, and the attraction of returning to the United States.120

And could we call ‘working hours’ an interest? Certainly Jean’s work was characterized by her long working hours. She usually worked 50–60 hours per week,121 preferring her long working days to begin late, complaining that Harrison Bryan ‘was considered efficient for arriving at 7.30 am [at Sydney University] whereas I was inefficient because I was still around at 7.30 pm’.122 She worked through public holidays and was irritated by ‘the Australian habit of stopping work a week before Christmas and sleeping thru office hours in order to be fit for yet another party’123 – this written shortly after she went to the Metcalf Seminar in place of Hedley Brideson, who, Jean claimed, did not want to interrupt his summer holidays, thereby giving an unexpected boost to her career.124 George Pitt commented: ‘Do you never weary of having so many things to do at once? I suppose not. It has been your mode of living for as long as I can remember’.125 She also expected that others would work longer hours than required, so she would call meetings after working hours and ring to check that staff were still at work.

The last interest (and talent) I will look at is the selection and mentoring of talented librarians. As Neil Radford wrote:

For four decades she encouraged countless younger people – staff members and, later, students – to perform better than they thought they could, to set their sights higher and achieve more, to believe in themselves and their own abilities, and to become active in the profession.126

Jean mentored in many ways, including encouraging people to study overseas, as she had done so early in her career. She enjoyed combining work with social events which furthered both library activities and networks. Her students spoke of her support in continuing their studies or undertaking new areas:

students could remain in awe of her, but those who were prepared to meet her standards were likely to become life-long friends in whose careers she continued to take a practical interest. She recognised dormant talent in both students and colleagues and encouraged them to higher things, to strive to attain the ideals she herself espoused.127

Recruitment became part of Jean’s work at the PLSA, and she had ‘a great eye for talent’.128 Some people thought that her most important contribution to librarianship was

‘recruiter,’ ‘facilitator,’ and ‘catalyst,’ a person who has over the years and continues constantly, indeed relentlessly, to put people in touch with each other and with enriching opportunities in wide ranging aspects of the profession.129

There were to be many selected during her career. One example will suffice: one of the first people Jean ‘mentored’ was Ray Olding, who was to become State Librarian of South Australia. When Jean became Staff Training Officer she persuaded Hedley Brideson to centralise the Library’s cataloguing services, and she chose Olding, who was part of the Ranganathan Study Group, to head the new section, which, he said, surprised him. Olding, who says that he owes his start to Jean, wrote that

the S.A. Branch of the LAA had a casual vacancy for a General Councillor on the LAA’s General Council. For some reason I was elected, aged a callow 27 if you please. I do not now remember, but am perfectly sure, that Jean fixed this … [giving me] the opportunity of meeting and mixing with the top rank of Australian librarians on both professional and social levels, through which I received life-long benefits … I was appointed Conference Secretary for the 1957 LAA Conference in Adelaide. I became an Examiner in the cataloguing and classification papers of the Registration Examination, and later a member and then Chair of the Board of Examiners.

A further means of reputation exposure directly attributable to Jean, was a series of ALJ articles, and many book reviews during Jean’s tenure as Editor … the study group on Ranganathan’s Colon Classification that Jean and George Buick started back around 1950 and which first stimulated my interest in cataloguing and thus shaped the rest of my career … In 1967–68 I took leave without pay from the State Library and taught cataloguing at the Library School of the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis. Whilst there I was offered, and appointed to, a professorship at the University of California, Los Angeles, specifically and explicitly as a replacement for Seymour Lubetzky … had it not been for those study discussions on Ranganathan …130

Frank Upward also spoke of Jean recruiting by challenging people,131 as she did when she asked him to consult, then to design a course and finally to teach it. And Rachel Salmond wrote of Jean respecting ‘those she employed for what they had to offer’.132 Being good with recruitment meant that the staff Jean chose were of a high standard, and many of the staff became her friends. Although her chief role in selection was within the library profession, her ability in the area of selection was recognized by Monash, and she became a member of numerous selection committees, which left another mark on the history of Monash.

The other side of this ability with people was that Jean had favourites and idols. The favourites were those people she encouraged, but it was not always clear why she chose them, nor why some others were not her favourites. Some reasons were obvious: she appears to have encouraged more males than females, although career-oriented women, preferably without children, were acceptable, and being a South Australian was an advantage. Her favourites were usually young men.

She also had idols, always male, the earliest of whom (professionally) was George Pitt, with whom she retained a friendship until his death, whereas, although she and Andrew Osborn remained friends, she soon found that he had feet of clay. She was loyal, holding people in esteem even when they made mistakes,133 most obviously Osborn, when so many others criticized him. She was better at choosing her favourites than she was in choosing her idols.

With this ability to select people I found it odd that she wrote: ‘You know – I’m not looking forward to meeting new people at all – I never do’.134 Another anomaly was that Monash may have been the only time Jean herself was interviewed for a position. There may have been an informal interview for the PLSA position (she said that she knocked on the door); she was not interviewed for the University of Sydney position; and it is unlikely that she would have been interviewed for the NLA position, given Fleming writing: ‘I was delighted to find that you had offered to throw in your lot with us here in trying to turn this place into what it ought to be & can be’.135 Jean may have been interviewed for positions she unsuccessfully applied for: I found a number of curricula vitae prepared over a long period (evidence that Jean had wanted to leave the PLSA and the University of Sydney many years before she was able to do so). She wrote to Osborn after writing her application for the Sydney position: ‘I just hope that I never have to apply for another job – its embarrassing and boring’.136

As there were few areas of librarianship which did not interest or involve Jean at some point in her career, they are worth mentioning, even if that interest or involvement was one of criticism. Early in her career Jean was a member of the children’s libraries section,137 but she did not think that organizations lending toys, tools, etc., should be called ‘libraries’, a term which she thought should be restricted to those lending books (and their substitutes). This view was marked by a satirical article in ALJ, ‘New service for Wombat Beach’138 (perhaps tied in with retrieving emu eggs from the Prime Minister’s Lodge?).139

The other area of librarianship Jean shied away from was cataloguing: ‘I am not of the right sex to understand cataloguing’.140 She appeared to have enjoyed cataloguing with Pitt, catalogued the Mines Library, had an early interest in Ranganathan’s Colon Classification,141 taught cataloguing (that first lecture), wrote about it and was an examiner in the subject, but disliked it so much that Harrison Bryan was to refer to her ‘well-known lack of personal attraction to cataloguing’.142

I cannot let the story of Jean Whyte’s career end without reference to the changing role of women in Jean’s lifetime and how this change affected her career, starting with a ‘glass ceiling’ at the beginning of her career, when her desire to study at university was met by her parents’ belief that girls should not go to university. Jean said they could not afford to send her to university,143 but the Whyte family appear to have been comfortably off, with wealthy relatives; Jean and Billie had both been to an expensive boarding school; and Prim was still working. This was in 1942, and many young women were discouraged from attending university, being encouraged instead to enter ‘suitable’ occupations such as teaching and nursing (working at Yadlamalka for Jean). But the university was more enlightened and allowed girls to enrol. So Jean was able to study, despite her parents’ wishes, but she had to earn her living to support herself.

Women might be allowed to work, but they were paid less than men, and Jean encountered this at the beginning of her career, when she was employed in her first job at the lower salary of clerk (the position held by women) rather than at that of library assistant (held by men). Her first move was to the Reference Department, which was staffed by males, ‘most of whom did not welcome a female, so my first jobs were putting away everything that readers had used – books, pamphlets, newspapers and maps’.144

Jean soon found that women in many lower-paid positions did the same work as men employed in higher-paid positions, and perhaps she acknowledged this situation when she described herself as ‘Second-in-charge’ at the Adelaide Lending Service from 1946, which is correct in that she was in the third-highest position and there was no-one in the second-highest – the top two positions were reserved for men.145 It was the enlightened George Pitt who recommended that Jean be appointed to the position of second-in-charge. Then came ‘one time when being a woman’ was to Jean’s advantage in her career:146 winning an American Association of University Women Fellowship, awarded ‘to help women of outstanding ability who may be expected to do constructive work on returning to their own country’;147 Jean wrote that ‘I shall do my best to see that librarianship in Australia benefits as much as possible from my visit to the United States’.148 But discrimination came again when she was unsuccessful in her application for the position of Flinders University Librarian, supposedly because she was a woman.149

Jean had entered librarianship when the majority of librarians were women but when few held senior positions in big libraries. Despite this, Jean’s career had flourished at the PLSA, when the senior positions in other libraries were not hers. Other opportunities were there: teaching librarianship, President of the South Australian Branch of the Library Association of Australia and editorship of ALJ.

When Jean moved to the University of Sydney there was little likelihood of promotion to the position of University of Sydney Librarian due to the ‘glass ceiling’ for women – even if there were women elsewhere reaching the position of University Librarian,150 no woman had (or has yet) held the position of University of Sydney Librarian. Again, when Jean went to a high-level appointment at the NLA it seemed unlikely that a woman would be appointed to the position of Director General (it has since happened, but long after Jean had left). In the Minute of Appreciation for Jean Whyte I read: ‘Guy Manton was able to persuade Jean to take up the chair [of librarianship at Monash]; in other circumstances she might well have become National Librarian’.151 I wondered what other circumstances were being referred to. If a woman could have been considered for the position? If Jean had remained at the NLA until Chandler’s retirement? Perhaps the other circumstances would come with developments in women’s liberation.

Jean’s appointment at the NLA lifted her to the Second Division of the Commonwealth Public Service, where there was one other woman among 850 men,152 and no women were yet at the top level. When Jean was interviewed by the Canberra Times following her appointment to the NLA she said that she had been unaware of the paucity of women at the top of the ladder: ‘there was a preference for men in the higher echelons of her profession, she admitted, “But it’s encouraged by women being so silly. They don’t apply for a job and then go round saying it was earmarked for one of the boys”’.153 Despite saying this, there had been times when Jean had been encouraged to apply for positions which she did not in the event apply for, such as that of National Librarian (by Osborn),154 Macquarie University (by Alley), Professor of Librarianship at UNSW (by Alley)155 and the Monash position (by Manton).

Jean worked her way up the public-service ladder, spending seventeen years in various positions at the Public Library of South Australia before she was appointed to the number three position at the University of Sydney and then to the number two position, before accepting the number two position at the NLA, but never applying for the position of National Librarian. Perhaps we could contrast this with the career of Harrison Bryan. Bryan, unlike Jean, did not go directly from school into librarianship but first gained his arts degree and completed war service. His first position after completing full-time librarianship education – which was at a level not achieved by Jean until she had had many years of experience – was as Assistant to the Librarian at the University of Queensland Library, at a time when there was no Librarian and the Acting University Librarian was in poor health, so Bryan was doing the work of the University Librarian in his first appointment and was appointed University Librarian in little more than a year.156

Jean’s appointment to Monash followed the Committee’s rejection of an all-male short-list (and long-list), showing that there were few women at her level. She became one of few women then at Monash (and in Australia) to hold the title ‘professor’ and the second woman to be a Professor of Librarianship in Australia. She became very conscious of being one of the few women professors and was honoured by and proud of the title.157

When Jean went to Monash it was time for her to be in a top position, after so many second-in-charge positions, always second to men, some of whom she disagreed with: Brideson (she ‘considered that everything that she accomplished was against what he wanted, and loathed defending his views – which she did not agree with – to the staff’); Andrew Osborn (he ‘generated ideas. Many of them were impractical, some were infuriating, but a few were brilliant. He did not know which were which’);158 and George Chandler (with whom Jean clashed immediately).

And, in line with many of that time, Jean was aware of the power of words, perhaps more so because of her interest in poetry. An example is from Monash: although she was not the first woman to be appointed a professor at Monash (at the time of her appointment she was one of five),159 several newspapers reported: ‘Woman takes new chair at Monash’.160 Jean’s reply to one newspaper was:

Thank you for announcing my new position in your paper … May I suggest that all journalists resolve to mark International Women’s Year by banning such irrelevant headings as ‘New chair goes to woman’.

There is nothing remarkable in the fact that Monash University has appointed a woman to a professorship.161


Now to turn to Jean’s interests which were not her work, beginning with her strong friendships, importantly with animals. She loved animals, lived with them all of her life and, depending on one’s opinion, was devoted to or ruled by them. In Jean’s personal papers are many references to her animal friends at Yadlamalka (and photographs, such as one of Jean riding a camel), and, when she was working at the PLSA, sending food to London for a dog Pitt had met (soon after the end of the War).162 Baggins the cat lived with Jean in Adelaide, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne; he was a feature at all the libraries Jean worked in, and she had a habit of forgetting that she had left his meat in the refrigerator at work. She was understandably upset by the death of her long-time companion after their move to Monash. Baggins was succeeded by other cats, and by Fergus and Tansie, miniature schnauzers, and finally by the silky terrier, Quingle. Jean took her dogs to work with her, they slept under her desk at Monash, and she enjoyed walking them in Valley Reserve. She was also known for imitating animal noises – George Pitt wrote (in 1968): ‘when I first saw you (usually flying and baa-ing down the lane by the old C.L.S. building)’.163

Jean had lifelong friends, some dating from childhood and school, others from each of the libraries she worked in, from Monash, and from her Chicago days. Long-standing friends included Geoffrey Alley, John Bray, Harrison Bryan, Mavis Crawford, Margaret Lundie, Brian and Lisbeth McMullin, Elizabeth Morrison, Ray Olding, George Pitt, Neil Radford, Margery Ramsay, Radha and Henning Rasmussen, Boyd Rayward – and the list could go on and on. There was an interweaving of the personal and the professional: Jean’s colleagues and her staff were her friends and continued so into her retirement. I have chosen to write about three friends, Roma Mitchell, Andrew Osborn and Hector Monro.

Roma Mitchell, later Dame Roma, was often referred to as ‘Roma the First’, as she was the first woman to receive a number of honours, such as Queen’s Counsel, Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia, state governor, Deputy Chancellor of a university, and later Chancellor, etc. I am unsure how the Whyte and Mitchell families met, but as Adelaide had a population of about 250,000 in the early twentieth century there were many opportunities for the children of two wealthy families to meet (as the eligible Kitty Macully had met the eligible Prim Whyte). Perhaps Jean and Roma’s fathers had been friends: Prim Whyte and Roma’s father, Harold Mitchell, were similar in age, both had been educated at St Peter’s, both were eligible bachelors, both had spent some time in South Australia’s north and both served in World War I, though Harold did not return.

Roma saw Kitty die: ‘When someone asked young Roma Mitchell how the shark had taken Mrs Whyte – surely a strange question to address to a twelve year old – she thought for a moment, then gave a wonderfully literal and unemotional reply: “By the femur bone”’.164 Jean was three when her mother died, Roma four when her father died; they were to be lifelong friends, and Roma was often referred to as ‘like a sister’ to Jean and Billie. Roma wrote references for Jean, while Jean wrote the entry for Roma in the Oxford Companion to Australian History.165 Jean became a visitor to Government House, and she stayed at Roma’s home during Roma’s last illness, answering letters on her behalf.166 Jean was devastated by Roma’s death, and it may have precipitated Jean’s slide into dementia.167

The second important friendship was with Andrew Osborn. Although Jean said that Andrew’s major influence on her was to change the direction of her career168 it was far more than that. It was due to Andrew’s offer of a job for Jean at the University of Sydney that she was, at last, able to leave the PLSA and to make her first move interstate; it was also through his influence that she did not return to the United States in the 1950s. Andrew encouraged her to continue editing ALJ in 1963 (she did); to do a PhD. (she never did); to teach at the University of Western Ontario (she did, but for a shorter time than stipulated in his invitation); and to apply for the position of National Librarian (she did not). She was influenced by his book-buying and proposed – but never took – a year away from the Library to buy books.169 Under his influence she also wrote of the scarcity of resources in Australian libraries in ‘The librarian’s task, 1962: an editorial’, seeing the increase in the total resources as one of the librarian’s chief tasks at that time.170 Her interest in printing began with Andrew, but his greatest influence on her (both positive and negative) was in the way she set up the GSL.

It is hard to tell when Jean became disillusioned by Andrew – perhaps when she had to deal with his impracticalities in Sydney – but she did not criticize him to her friends at the time. She said later that ‘he was innovative … whether the innovations would always be sensible is another matter’.171 Perhaps we could call him a fallible role model: she learned from his talents and his mistakes. She wrote (although unfortunately without saying when she reached this conclusion) ‘that life with Andrew was not easy and that he was a very contrary person who certainly did not practise what he preached’.172

Although Andrew was to have such a big influence on Jean’s career there was little influence on her personal life, as their early relationship soon lost its intensity. This evolved from Jean’s infatuation with him to his wanting Jean’s friendship, although his was a more restrained and less emotional admiration. When his wife died he married one of Jean’s close friends at the University of Sydney, Margaret Lundie, who had been Associate Editor of ALJ when Jean was Editor. Jean, with a later University of Sydney Librarian, Neil Radford, was to write Andrew’s obituary.173

A later friendship was with Hector Monro. Hector and his wife Joyce were New Zealanders, both librarians before Hector’s career in philosophy, which led him to Australia to take up the position of senior lecturer at the University of Sydney and later to become the foundation Professor of Philosophy at Monash: ‘within five years he had built up one of the best departments of Philosophy in Australia’.174 Hector was

a renowned moral philosophy and ethics scholar both in Australia and overseas, and the author of four books and numerous papers in philosophical journals … Dr Aubrey Townsend says Professor Monro was an unusual academic. ‘His interests were broad – ranging over philosophy, literature and history – and his publications commonly combined these interests in ways that made his books appealing to an audience wider than usual for an academic writer … He wrote about ethics, humour, literary figures and the environment. And he is the only philosopher I know of who was able to publish poetry in an academic philosophy journal’.175

More than an unusual academic, Hector wrote a book on humour while he was in gaol in New Zealand (as a conscientious objector during World War II)! Jean became friends with Joyce and Hector, and the friendship with Hector developed after Joyce’s death in 1980.

Jean and Hector shared many interests, including censorship, crosswords, dogs, librarianship, printing, poetry, rare books, travel, walking, wine and the theatre (they had season tickets to the Melbourne Theatre Company – they would leave their car at the railway station and catch a train to Melbourne, and perhaps that was where they were going when I saw them last). They kept up their friendships at Monash after retirement through frequent attendance at the Banquo Club, a monthly lunch gathering of retired academics. Hector donated his non-philosophical books and a substantial bequest from his will set up the Hector Monro Fund for the purchase of significant seventeenth- and eighteenth-century works for the Library.176

Jean and Hector set up house together when Hector was becoming frail. Jean was rather awkward in telling her friends of the arrangement, and visitors to the house were shown over it and were able to note the separate bedrooms.177 Hector’s family was pleased that Jean was able to help him stay at home178 – but not for long, as he was unsteady on his feet and would fall, whereupon Jean would need the help of one of her friends to help lift him. Hector went into a nursing home, but, when the time came, Jean was not able to move into the same home, as it did not have the facilities for dementia patients. Hector died in 2001.

Various people have asked about or commented on Jean’s relationships with other men. There were many admirers, but few relationships: when younger she wore her heart on her sleeve and seemed emotionally immature, having crushes on various men, but there was no-one significant until her friendship with Hector late in life.

To turn now from friends to other interests, beginning with poetry: she read poetry, ‘had a remarkable memory bank of English verse’,179 wrote poetry and doggerel and reviewed books of poetry. Childhood isolation gave her time to read the books at home, which included much poetry because of the interests of Macully, Kitty and Prim. Jean said that she ‘was stuffed with the English poets’, and ‘brought up on bush ballads’.180 She said that her degree was in poetry rather than in literature;181 her interest was encouraged at university by Charles Rischbieth Jury, Professor of English at Adelaide University and author of a number of books of poetry, who invited Jean and a dozen or so other people, such as John Bray, to his home to read poetry; many were to become her long-term friends. This group, known as ‘The Poetry’, began their monthly meetings in 1947; the remaining members still meet monthly. Douglas Muecke, who has attended meetings of the group since its inception, and is still a member, recalls Jean, who continued to attend meetings when she visited Adelaide, reading, among others, Banjo Paterson.182 I suspect too that there was another Jury influence – Jury was always trying to find homes for the kittens from his cat, Claribel, so I wonder whether Claribel was the mother of Baggins.

Jean kept many poems written in Yadlamalka days, but it is not clear who actually wrote them – whether it was Jean, Billie or Prim. Her poetry has been described as somewhat derivative and competent;183 she wrote for the school magazine, for library occasions and for ALJ, as well as more serious poetry for university magazines such as Phoenix and Poetry Monash, and doggerel for special occasions. An example of the latter is a farewell poem to Elaine de Cure and Pam Wollaston (from PLSA), typical both of the poems she wrote for special occasions and of her thoughts on staff turnover:


Young ladies must be pigeon-toed,
Cross-eyed and toothless too,
Their shoulders drooped as with a load,
Their stockings always blue.

They should not dress in anything
Brighter than black or brown,
And when a book they’re forced to bring
They must bring too, a frown.

They must not laugh, or even smile
Or speak with one another
On no account will we employ
A lass who has a brother.

With sorrow we draw up these rules
Experience dictates
Because past choices we have found
Too good at getting dates.

For we must bid a fond farewell
To our dear Wooly sheep
But since she is so glad to go
We must forbear to weep.

We do not blame you, Pam that you
Desert us for another,
But we regret we e’er employed
A lass who had a brother.

The A.L.S. is quiet without
Their Elaine Margaret Mary,
But laughter will return no doubt
With Mrs. Gerald Carey.

Elaine and Pam we wish you joy
We’re glad to set you free –
Because you see, you do not fit
Our new staff policy.

And while we are assembled here
Note – this advice to mothers –
We won’t employ your Daughter Dear,
Unless she has no brothers!184

Jean’s Outback childhood was the origin of her interest in literature: her reading and learning of the classics of English and Australian literature, her ‘fierce attachment to things Australian, not least to its literature’.185 She was to say in later life that she had ‘an old passion for Australian literature – perhaps I am sick of that old passion (but not desolate)’.186 She said that she probably would have stayed in literature had she studied full-time, ‘almost certainly and there I would be stuck’,187 and that she had probably been able to contribute more to libraries than she would have to English literature.188 Her two unfinished theses were in English literature,189 and she co-authored two reports on Australian literature in Australian libraries.190 It seemed to some that she had read everything.191

Art, especially contemporary art, also played a part in Jean’s life. At Monash she was a member of the Vera Moore Fund Committee and the Art Advisory Committee, and the walls of her homes were covered with paintings and prints, with an emphasis on contemporary Australian works: ‘What spaces weren’t taken up with bookshelves were taken up with art’, said her friends Grecian and Ross Day.192

Holidays and travel were important interests. Later holidays, the highpoint of Jean’s year,193 were at Carrickalinga, a coastal resort 78 kilometres south of Adelaide on the Fleurieu Peninsula, where she, Billie and Roma had a kit home built, with a room added later for Hector. She travelled a lot during her career and in retirement, seeing much of Australia, frequently visiting North America and Europe, and also South America, taking in the Galapagos Islands, Thailand, Nepal and East Africa, doing much of this travelling with Hector.194 She visited the Alleys in New Zealand several times, she enjoyed walking, and Harrison Bryan told of Jean visiting his family when they were camping at the Warrambungles – she provided ‘iron rations’: a bottle of whisky and a camembert.195

The whisky is not surprising. Jean enjoyed alcohol, especially South Australian, such as wine from McLaren Vale and the Fleurieu Peninsula,196 Coopers Ale, champagne,197 and Grange Hermitage. She was a social drinker, saying that she drank a glass of sherry or two glasses of beer a day, but the only effect was to make her more serious and gloomy than ever.198 Just before she left Adelaide she hosted a party for about 35 people and ‘remembered to order enough drink for twice as many, but forgot all about food’.199 There was sherry in her office, and she would take staff out for a drink, including the army of shelving staff at Fisher.200 She became knowledgeable about wine, possibly under the tutelage of Professor Jury,201 and had an admirable collection of wine – and a few of the good bottles from her cellar were consumed after her funeral.202

The last major interest to note is Jean’s continued worries about her health. Pitt wrote to her: ‘I am very happy to find you beginning to doubt whether you will die young’.203 There were rumours of a misplaced heart, but this is no more than a rumour. She had a cardiac murmur,204 had had a broken arm (probably accounting for her claim that she could write with either hand, although her writing with her right (usual) hand was difficult enough to read), and there were various operations over the years. There was a scar on her lungs, known to be present in 1959;205 perhaps this is why she gave up smoking. She had some anxiety symptoms, sometimes mild panic attacks, often associated with driving,206 and the leave that she took from the NLA in late 1974 would now be called ‘stress leave’. Some thought that she was a hypochondriac, others that she exaggerated her symptoms. On the other hand, she sought help when others might have soldiered on, which may have helped maintain her independence.207 Her real concern should have been dementia.

Now to some things which I have grouped as interesting non-interests. First, driving. Jean rode horses and camels at Yadlamalka, but driving a car in the city was a lot different. Before gaining her licence she organized lifts. Ray Olding said that she felt ‘like a sack of potatoes’ on the back of his motorbike in Adelaide,208 and she travelled more comfortably in the Mercedes in Sydney. She obtained her licence (Fisher apparently went through trauma when she was learning to drive) and bought her first car when she lived in Sydney. She was not comfortable while driving and was easily flustered.209

Another non-interest was sport (after leaving school, where she had been active in tennis and hockey), despite the sporting interests and abilities of both parents. Yet another was religion: Prim was a Congregationalist, Kitty the daughter of an Anglican priest, and though Jean was baptised an Anglican, and went to an Anglican school, she described her beliefs as ‘Religion: once fiercely Anglo-Catholic (caused by school). Now: nil’.210 Although she quoted the Bible, the quotes were derived not from a religious bent, but from her knowledge of the classics. So, for example, ‘Whenever two or three Australian librarians are gathered together’,211 ‘Libraries exist so that men may live more abundantly’,212 and, in her poetry, ‘Must I give / To Caesar all that unto him belongs?’.213

Jean had little involvement in politics, describing herself as ‘theoretically slightly left of center’.214 Neil Radford said that ‘politically she sided more with the common man and the goals of the labour movement than with conservative ideology’.215 Her main involvement appears to have been dealing with the effects of government economic decisions on the libraries in which she was working, as well as hosting parties on election nights.216 Jean’s lack of involvement in politics and religion and her opposition to censorship may be summed up in her own words: ‘the professional belief that the library has no politics, no religion, no moralities to push’.217

From interests to characteristics, what David Jones called Jean’s ‘formidable intellect’.218 As I found this area so difficult to write about I asked David to comment; he wrote:

Her achievement with [the history of the Institute] was really remarkable, as she retained an enviable objectivity in writing about events in which she often played a part and on issues on which she more often than not had firm views. She managed to bring alive most of the characters who played a significant part in the development of the library profession, with sidelights which informed but never trivialised, and with a respect for their motives, an appreciation of individuals as products of their times – in other words, a real historian’s flair. She could grapple with issues of great complexity and throw light on them in easily comprehended sentences and often with humour and verve. She was comprehensive in her approach, but did not overwhelm with facts and occurrences. And above all she breathed life into an organisation by showing how it was all too human – with the same vices and virtues of the species. It was all the more remarkable that although she had been working on the history on and off for twenty years, she was still writing of it with enthusiasm and commitment – right up to the time when she realised that her mind was fading and that she would need to try and leave some pointers for someone to follow in her footsteps. She had a masterly view of the big picture, could see linkages and influences across geographical divides and chronological gaps, could absorb a mass of detail whilst blazing a trail through a forest of documentation, and was able and willing to share her discoveries, ideas, opinions and conclusions with interested audiences. I actually think it is a sign of a remarkable intellect to be able to leave an unfinished work in such a way that a colleague can complete it.219

Referees found many good things to say about Jean; one which encapsulates many of her characteristics was written by Roma Mitchell:

I have known Miss Jean P. Whyte all her life. Her character is one of integrity: to any problem she applies an honest, fearless and enquiring mind. Her enthusiasm for and interest in librarianship appear to be limitless. She is an interesting and fluent speaker. Furthermore she combines with academic learning a wide interest in people and current affairs which renders her admirably fitted for her contacts with the general public and, I believe, with the members of a library staff.220

Jean had a good sense of humour, she was polite, sociable, loyal to her friends, had few weak points, met deadlines, and didn’t like ‘small talk’.221 But many found her ‘formidable’: this was my experience, not surprisingly, as she was by that time close to the end of her career, a professor, and I was a new student. Many people told me their own stories of a memorable first meeting, such as Brian McMullin, who met Jean at SLIS, in the Rare Book Collection. She barged into the room saying ‘Have you got Watt?’ (i.e. Robert Watt’s Bibliotheca Britannica, which he was using, that had been acquired for teaching purposes).222 And Neil Radford (nephew of Professor Wilma Radford) wrote that, when they were introduced on Jean’s first day at the University of Sydney, Jean said ‘Humph! Radford! You have a famous name to live up to!’; Radford said that he was seventeen years old and she was bigger than he. ‘Yes Miss Whyte’, he quaked.223

Many students saw her as aloof, imposing, sometimes abrasive, impatient with pretension, but also inspiring, doing much to help the individual student, including providing financial and emotional support. Although she kept a distance between herself and students, if a student became a member of staff, the relationship could change to a friendship.224 Part of this aloofness was due to her height. To describe herself to Andrew Osborn she wrote: ‘I’ve got gingery hair, a grumpy expression & am above average height’225 (she was about 178 centimetres tall according to her passports, about the same height as Prim). Her school photographs show Jean almost a head taller than her peers, gangly and awkward, a giraffe among the gazelles. But later her height was an advantage, as it added to her imposing nature. She dressed well, was well groomed, and her hair was always well done. I think that she looked rather like her grandfather, Alexander Macully.

I sometimes wonder whether Jean was most like Macully, who was said to be ‘A most lovable man, and such a mixture of contradictions! Believed all things, hoped all things; to him nothing was impossible but what was impracticable’.226 Macully died before Jean was born – they were similar in looks, educated at private schools, where they distinguished themselves in English literature, loved poetry, were careful with their appearance, well-loved by many people, moved interstate a number of times because of work and suffered from dementia – and, although he was a minister of religion, Macully does not appear to have been ‘religious’. Both were good public speakers, Macully known for his ‘remarkable power as a reader and reciter’,227 while Jean presented her lectures with ‘elegance and power’228 and with impressive ‘Churchillian cadences’.229 It was a pity that she missed hearing her grandfather read poetry at his ‘An evening with the poets’ at the South Australian Institutes – I think that she would have enjoyed the experience.230

Macully was probably the only university graduate before Jean in her family, they both became teachers, and they both gained and enjoyed the title ‘professor’ (his was a courtesy title). Macully continued his career in a form of literature; Jean thought that she was lucky not to have been stuck there. They both enhanced their backgrounds – Macully’s claim to Irish birth and Jean’s claim to being head prefect. Macully went through bankruptcy and bounced back, and perhaps the family story led to Jean’s worries about her finances.

Jean always worried about her superannuation, from the time of her work at the PLSA. Although she was always a government employee she worked for different governments, and superannuation was not able to be transferred (nor other benefits, such as holiday leave), although she and Andrew Osborn tried, unsuccessfully, to transfer her superannuation from the PLSA to the University of Sydney. By the time she left Monash there was sufficient superannuation for her retirement, and she had no dependants. She had benefited from a lifetime’s work and saving, and also from inheritances from family members.

In her will Jean left large amounts to Monash’s school of librarianship (by then absorbed into the Faculty of Information Technology), to the Monash University Library, to the Art Gallery of South Australia, the R.S.P.C.A., Ryder Cheshire, and the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, where Roma had been Deputy Chair of the South Australian committee which awarded fellowships and President of the Trust (all the other committee members were men).231 The Churchill fellowship donated by Jean has been used to provide fellowships for the study of an aspect of library and information services by a South Australian; a fellowship sponsored by Roma was for excellence in the performing arts. Jean’s bequests to Monash will be used to support research and publication, including an annual lecture, and to add to the Library’s research collections in areas of Jean’s interest, including literature, librarianship and philosophy (many of her poetry books were left to the Library).232 Jean asked that her friends be invited to take books from her own collection after her death, which prompted Elizabeth Morrison to comment that she had not fully appreciated ‘the length and breadth of Jean’s learning’ until she saw the collection.233

Much of her art was valuable, and items were given to galleries after Jean’s death. The William Robinson painting (known as ‘The mad cow’ to Jean’s friends) and two of Robinson’s engravings went to the Art Gallery of South Australia, and another painting to the Monash Museum of Art. Other paintings, jewellery, and various possessions of Jean were chosen by her friends after Jean’s death. If I had had the opportunity I would have chosen the binary clock, a fascinating machine on Jean’s mantelpiece – I have not been able to find out who has it.

In her final years Jean became more and more dependent on her friends – she would ring at any time to get the help that she thought she needed. She had been known for her organising skills, ‘her astonishing ability to organise her friends, not, I hasten to say only in her own interests’.234 Manipulative? But she was also generous, giving much to those who helped her during those last years.

Jean forgot many of the practical skills she had learned at Yadlamalka. She had enjoyed cooking and entertaining, with good wines and conversation, but she seems to have forgotten how to cook and increasingly relied on bought food. She needed more and more help as she grew older, and her friends from this period laughed when I told them that in her younger days she claimed to be ‘reasonably good with an axe, a saw, nails & pieces of wire’.235 She had never been a keen housekeeper, and there were problems in moving house a number of times (all within Mount Waverley), from her home in Rob Roy Street, then to Bruce Street, to be closer to the park where she walked the dogs and to have more room for her vast collection of books, then to Valley Road with Hector.

Jean had few relatives in later life. Auntie died in 1978, having retained close contact with both Jean and Billie. Jean wrote that ‘I’m one of those lucky people who have a really good step-mother – but then she is my mother’s sister’.236 There were no relatives on Kitty’s side, as none of her siblings had had children, and few on Prim’s side, despite his being from a large family. Prim retired to Adelaide and died in 1958, in Parkside Mental Hospital, Eastwood, a few weeks after being admitted with ‘senile dementia’.237 Billie outlived Jean, but had dementia years before Jean succumbed to it. Perhaps they both inherited dementia, as their grandfather, Alexander Macully and their father both had dementia. Perhaps Jean’s health concerns were based on her knowledge of the presence of dementia in her own family. Rachel Salmond said that she took meals for Jean on most Thursdays from July to October 2000, when Jean was ‘mostly coherent’ and seemed ‘mentally prepared’ for what proved to be her extraordinarily rapid decline in November-December 2000. They ‘talked about ALIA things and other library-type things, which a year or so earlier she would have still discussed in terms of what was ahead, as if they were all over as far as she was concerned’.238

It is difficult to know when Jean began deteriorating mentally: it is said that intelligent people may be better able to hide their decline. She became forgetful and certain oddnesses in her behaviour were noticed,239 while her driving became more erratic, her practical skills lost. She was devastated by Roma’s death in March, 2000, and the slide downhill quickened. Jean’s last public appearance was at the launch of the 2000 edition of The poems of Callimachus, on October 19th, 2000. She was admitted to hospital the following day. From there she moved to a series of three nursing homes. As dementia developed she talked nonsense, often in rhythm and rhyme. According to her friend from The Poetry, Douglas Muecke, she was speaking in the rhythm of a bush ballad: ‘If you asked if she remembered someone she would reply “Yes, I remember him. A tumpty tumpty tim”, inventing words to continue the rhythm and provide a rhyme’.240

She gradually forgot people. ‘That marvelous mind, razor-sharp, comprehensive, humane yet intolerant of any pretensions unwisely offered it, preceded her into oblivion’, wrote John Levett.241 Some of her friends were able to visit, some found it too difficult.

Jean died on March 18th, 2003; her funeral was held on March 24th. She was cremated.

Jean was unusually gloomy on the anniversary of her mother’s death. Her lifelong friend Mavis Crawford wrote:

This date was etched in our memories; Jean never let us forget that 18th March was the anniversary of an event that changed her life dramatically. We all treated her with extra consideration that day. How fitting, then that she herself should leave us on 18th March.242

As A.D. Hope wrote,


Birthdays, holidays, days that always come round,
Christmas and Easter, Ramadan, Yom Kippur,
Wedding days, celebrations of lovers or friends,
We mark them on calendars; they are always found
In diaries, rise regular as stars, are due to recur
Year after year; they are dates on which one depends.

But there is one other day, masked by the circling year,
A strange anniversary; nobody knows what it is;
Yet it waits for each one of us, destined, certain and true,
Unknown, yet we know for a fact that it has to be there
As it brushes the cheek with a cold, unconditional kiss
And whispers, ‘Be ready for me: I am ready for you.’

When we least expect it, it signals and no one knows why,
Flashes out to the zodiac as the planet turns round and round,
A day which is all your own yet you may not celebrate,
Like a private moon it already circles your sky,
Turning the same face toward you, attentive, profound,
Keeping watch like a lover each night beside your gate.

There it raises faint tides that rise and fall in your blood
It keeps but it does not observe the solar year,
For its secret clock does not run to a regular beat,
And refuses to sound the hours as a timepiece should.
Yet pressing my ear to the pillow each year I hear
The steady tramping of its remorseless feet.

Do you hear it, my love, their crunch on a rough country track
As we march on side by side? There is no trunk road to the grave—
Are we in step? Are you wondering which of the two
Will come first to the turn-off, and which one will not look back
When the other stands able only to watch and to wave
Before going on to the lonelier rendezvous?

The anniversary whose date not one of us knows
For the art to read that horoscope nobody learns.
It would be nice to celebrate in the usual way;
To be waked with a cup of tea and dew-fresh rose,
A kiss and a smiling: ‘Many happy returns!’
But it will not happen. It is not, of course, that sort of day.243



Jean Whyte died on the anniversary of the death of her mother.



1   G. H. Pitt to Jean Whyte, December 30th, 1971. SLSA: PRG 1335/3–4.

2   Interview, Joan Brewer, 2008.

3   G. H. Pitt to Jean Whyte, December 30th, 1971. SLSA: PRG 1335/3–4.

4   Jean Whyte. ‘Curriculum vitae’, [1972?]. NLA: MS 9616.

5   ‘H.C.L. Anderson Award. Citation for Jean Primrose Whyte, BA, MA, FLAA’, [1987]. NLA: MS 9616.

6   ‘Australia Day honours’. Advertiser [SA], January 26th, 1988.

7   Agnes Gregory to Jean Whyte, February 4th, 1988. NLA: MS 9616.

8   M.I. Logan to Jean Whyte, December 14th, 1988. NLA: MS 9616.

9   Jean Whyte to R. J. Pargetter, January 3rd, 1995. NLA: MS 9616.

10  [Monash University]. ‘Monash University Graduation Ceremony’, [1996], 5. NLA: MS 9616.

11  Jean Whyte. ‘Graduation address Monash University. 1996. For Faculty of Arts Graduands 15/5/96’. NLA: MS 9616.

12  Rudolf Blum. Kallimachos, 1991; Barry Jones. Barry Jones’ Dictionary of World Biography, 1994, 122.

13  Jean Whyte. ‘A word from Callimachus’. ALJ 6 (3) 1957, 95.

14  Jean Whyte. The Poems of Callimachus, 2000.

15  Brian McMullin. ‘Harrison Bryan, bibliographer and hand-printer’, 20–34.

16  Interview: Brian McMullin, 2008.

17  Jean Whyte to Jane [Bald], September 6th, 1976. MON 1059: 2000/68.42.

18  Interview: Brian McMullin, 2008.

19  Interview: Michael Talbot, 2005.

20  Interview: Ross Harvey, 2005.

21  Andrew Osborn to Jean Whyte, December 29th, 1958. SU: M 465.

22  Jean Whyte to Andrew Osborn, January 2nd, 1959. SU: M 465.

23  Jean Whyte. ‘Waltzing with Matilda’, 1988, 87.

24  Jean Whyte and David J. Jones. Uniting a Profession, 2007, 3.

25  Elizabeth Morrison and Michael Talbot, eds. Books, Libraries and Readers in Colonial Australia, 1985.

26  Interview: Elizabeth Morrison, 2008.

27  Interview: Elizabeth Morrison, 2008.

28  Frank Upward and Jean P. Whyte, eds. Peopling a Profession, 1991.

29  Jean Whyte to S. Acutt, October 28th, 1981. MON 1059: 2000/68.46.

30  Jean Whyte and David J. Jones, Uniting a Profession, 2007.

31  Jean Whyte and David J. Jones. Uniting a Profession, 2007, viii–ix.

32  ‘LAA 50 – National Committee’. ALJ 36 (4) 1987, 192.

33  Interview: John Lowe, 2005.

34  Jean Whyte. ‘Personal notes’, [1987?]. NLA: MS 9616.

35  [Board of Examination]. ‘Board of Examination’. ALJ 9 (4) 1960, 184.

36  Margaret Trask. ‘Judgement, energy, intellectual capacity, and vision’. ALJ 36 (4) 1987, 234.

37  Jean Whyte. The Recruitment of Librarians, [1959?], 3.

38  Harrison Bryan. No Gray Profession, 1994, 157.

39  Harrison Bryan. ‘A decade of change’. ALJ 20 (1) 1971, 18.

40  Harrison Bryan. No Gray Profession, 1994, 155.

41  ‘We’ refers to the collective opinion of the Board, which was also Jean’s own opinion (Jean Whyte to Margery Ramsay, September 17th, 1973. NLA: MS 9616).

42  Jean Whyte to Cecily Brown. August 12th, 1976. MON 1059: 2000/68.42.

43  Library Association of Australia. ‘Annual Report for 1962’. ALJ 12 (2) 1963, 78–83.

44  Jean Whyte. ‘Presidential message’. Australian Institute of Librarians. South Australian Branch. Quarterly Bulletin, 10, 1949.

45  Ibid.

46  Jean Whyte to Andrew Osborn, February 19th, 1959. SU: M 465.

47  [Jean Whyte]. ‘Editorial’. ALJ 8 (2) 1959, 57.

48  ‘Branches and Sections’. ALJ 5 (4) 1956, 147.

49  [Jean Whyte, ed.]. Proceedings of the 16th Biennial Conference held in Sydney, August 1971, 1972.

50  Jean Whyte. ‘Waltzing with Matilda’, 1988, 88.

51  Jean Whyte to G.R. Manton, October 10th, 1974. MON: SLO 72330.

52  Jean Whyte. ‘Personal notes’, [1987?]. NLA: MS 9616.

53  Harrison Bryan. No Gray Profession, 1994, 14.

54  ‘H.C.L. Anderson Award. Citation for Jean Primrose Whyte, BA, MA, FLAA’, [1987]. NLA: MS 9616.

55  Interview: Denis Richardson, 2006.

56  Interview: Michael Talbot, 2005.

57  S. Acutt to Jean Whyte, April 28th, 1982. MON 1059: 2000/68.46.

58  Harrison Bryan. ‘Jean Primrose Whyte’. ALJ 38 (1) 1989, 14.

59  Jean Whyte. ‘The Accreditation of Courses in Librarianship’, 1974, 604.

60  [Jean Whyte, ed.]. Librarianship in Australia, 1974.

61  Jean Whyte to Lindy Decker, July 25th, 1975. MON 1059: 2000/68.37.

62  Jean Whyte. ‘Curriculum vitae’ [1972?]. NLA: MS 9616.

63  Jean Whyte. ‘Position application and curriculum vitae’, 1959. NLA: MS 9616.

64  Jean Whyte. ‘Curriculum vitae’, 1974. NLA: MS 9616.

65  Harrison Bryan. ‘Jean Primrose Whyte’. ALJ 38 (1) 1989, 9.

66  Jean Whyte. ‘Curriculum vitae’, [1962?]. NLA: MS 9616.

67  Harrison Bryan. ‘Jean Primrose Whyte’. ALJ 38 (1) 1989, 5.

68  Jean Whyte. ‘Position application and curriculum vitae’, 1959. NLA: MS 9616.

69  Jean Whyte. ‘Curriculum vitae’, [1972?]. NLA: MS 9616.

70  Jean Whyte. ‘Position application and curriculum vitae’, 1959. NLA: MS 9616.

71  Jean Whyte. ‘Curriculum vitae’, [1962?]. NLA: MS 9616.

72  Interview: Wallace Kirsop, 2008.

73  Jean Whyte to Ian Cathie, May 5th, 1988. NLA: MS 9616. The sorry saga of the State Library of Victoria is outlined by Axel Lodewycks in The campaign for a new State Library of Victoria, [1990]. Jean was one of the many librarians who were disappointed with government planning. In mid-2009 renovation of the State Library is not yet complete.

74  Jean Whyte. ‘Who uses a university library, why and to what effect?’, 1972, 527–537.

75  Eric J. Wainwright. Readings in Australian librarianship II, 1979.

76  Jean Whyte. ‘Retirement Reminiscences’, 1988. NLA: MS 9616.

77  University of Sydney. ‘Minutes of a regular meeting of the Senate of the University of Sydney’, August 8th, 1972. Resolution 72/252. SU Archives.

78  [‘It is with sincere regret’]. [Newspaper clipping], [1926]. SLSA: PRG 1335/1.

79  Harrison Bryan. ‘Jean Primrose Whyte’. ALJ 38 (1) 1989, 5.

80  Jean Whyte. ‘Retirement Reminiscences’, 1988. NLA: MS 9616.

81  Jean Whyte. ‘Presidential message’. Australian Institute of Librarians. South Australian Branch. Quarterly Bulletin, 10, 1949.

82  Interview: Ross Harvey, 2005.

83  Transcript of a conversation between Jean Whyte and Geoffrey Alley, 1981. MON 1059: 2000/68/5.

84  Jean Whyte. ‘Waltzing with Matilda’, 1988, 84–85.

85  For example, G. H. Pitt to Jean Whyte, July 30th, 1964. SLSA: PRG 1335/3–4.

86  ‘Secretarial notes’. Australian Institute of Librarians. South Australian Branch. Quarterly Bulletin, 8, 1946, 4.

87  Australian Institute of Librarians. South Australian Branch. Minute Book October 8, 1937–December 17, 1952. SLSA: SRG 109 Series 2, Vols. 1–7.

88  [Arthur Rylah].

89  ‘The “Bizarre” Mayor’. ALJ 16 (2) 1967, 75.

90  Jean Whyte. ‘Presidential message’. Australian Institute of Librarians. South Australian Branch. Quarterly Bulletin, 10, 1949.

91  Jean Whyte. ‘Trends abroad: Australia’. Library Trends 19 (1) 1970, 127.

92  W.G.K. Duncan. ‘A librarian’s first loyalty’. ALJ 10 (4) 1961, 163–174.

93  Jean Whyte. ‘Issues in Australian librarianship’, 1976, 193.

94  Jean Whyte. ‘Trends abroad: Australia’. Library Trends 19 (1) 1970, 128.

95  Jean Whyte. ‘Issues in Australian librarianship’, 1976, 193.

96  Frederick May. ‘The concupiscence of the oppressor’. ALJ 13 (2) 1964, 73–84.

97  Harrison Bryan. ‘Jean Primrose Whyte’. ALJ 38 (1) 1989, 10.

98  Wilma Radford. [Correspondence]. ALJ 13 (4) 1964, 193.

99  Jean Whyte. [Introduction to] ‘Correspondence’. ALJ 13 (3) 1964, 129; ‘Correspondence’. ALJ 13 (3) 1964, 129–135.

100 Jack Ward. [Correspondence]. ALJ 13 (3) 1964, 133.

101 G. H. Pitt to Jean Whyte, July 30th, 1964. SLSA: PRG 1335/3–4.

102 Jean Whyte. ‘A policy for the Library Association of Australia? An editorial’. ALJ 13 (2) 1964, 57.

103 ‘Statement of Principles on Freedom to Read’. ALJ 13 (3) 1964, 136.

104 Derek Fielding. ‘Censorship’. In Harrison Bryan, ed., ALIAS, 1988–1991. Vol. 1, 142–144.

105 ‘Censorship in Sandringham’. ALJ 18 (11) 1969, 394.

106 Jean Whyte. ‘Namoi Regional Library bans “The thin red line”’. ALJ 13 (1) 1964, 17. The Library Board of NSW and the LAA were able to stop the Library banning the book (Jean Whyte. ‘Trends abroad: Australia’. Library Trends 19 (1) 1970, 122–130).

107 Jean Whyte. ‘Trends abroad: Australia’. Library Trends 19 (1) 1970, 122–130.

108 W.J. McEldowney. Geoffrey Alley, Librarian, 2006, 412.

109 Jean Whyte to M. J. Ramsden, November 5th, 1974. NLA: MS 9616.

110 ‘Branches and Sections’. ALJ 5 (4) 1956, 147.

111 Library Association of Australia. ‘Annual Report, Branches and Sections’. ALJ 7 (3) 1958, 92.

112 Jean Whyte to S. Acutt, October 26th, 1982. MON 1059: 2000/68.46.

113 Jean Whyte. ‘Waltzing with Matilda’, 1988, 85.

114 Jean Whyte. ‘Head not heart’. ALJ 26 (10) 18, 1977, 326–328.

115 Helen M. Modra. ‘The Short March’, 1986, 195–197, 208–209.

116 Jean Whyte. ‘Are we failing our public?’ ALJ 15 (1) 1966, 19.

117 Jean Whyte. ‘A word from Callimachus’. ALJ 6 (3) 1957, 98.

118 Jean Whyte. ‘Position application and curriculum vitae’, 1959. NLA: MS 9616.

119 Jean Whyte to E.L. Knaus, August 2nd, 1973. NLA: MS 9616.

120 Jean Whyte to Andrew Osborn, January 2nd, 1959. SU: M 465.

121 Jean Whyte to K. Enderby, June 15th, 1973. NLA: MS 9616.

122 Jean Whyte. [Notes for a speech prepared for a celebration of the conferring of the award of Order of Australia on Harrison Bryan], [1984]. NLA: MS 9616.

123 Jean Whyte to Andrew Osborn, December 30th, 1958. SU: M 465.

124 Transcript of a conversation between Jean Whyte and Geoffrey Alley, 1981. MON 1059: 2000/68/5.

125 G. H. Pitt to Jean Whyte, May, 1971. SLSA: PRG 1335/3–4.

126 Neil A. Radford. ‘Obituaries. Jean Primrose Whyte AM’, [2003].

127 Brian McMullin. ‘Yadlamalka girl shaped Australian librarianship’. The Age, April 18th–19th, 2003, 19.

128 Harrison Bryan. ‘Some comments and an occasional rejoinder’, 1988, 248.

129 James R. Cox to Jean Whyte, November 18th, 1988. NLA: MS 9616.

130 Ray Olding. Personal communication, August 8th, 2008.

131 Interview: Frank Upward, 2008.

132 Rachel Salmond. Personal communication, 2008.

133 Interview: Ross Harvey, 2005.

134 Jean Whyte to Andrew Osborn, February 21st, 1959. SU: M 465.

135 Alan Fleming to Jean Whyte, March 24th, 1972. NLA: MS 9616.

136 Jean Whyte to Andrew Osborn, January 3rd, 1959. SU: M 465.

137 Jean Whyte. ‘Position application and curriculum vitae’, 1959. NLA: MS 9616.

138 Jean Whyte. ‘New service for Wombat Beach’. ALJ 26 (1) 18, 1977, 9.

139 Although I note lending organizations as an area of librarianship in which Jean was not involved, she might argue that it was not an area of librarianship; I include it here because it is a subject discussed by librarians.

140 Jean Whyte. Review of Information indexing and subject cataloging, alphabetical: classified, coordinate: mechanical by John Metcalfe. ALJ 6 (4) 1957, 187.

141 Jean began having the PLSA collection reclassified to the Colon Classification before she left for Sydney (the reclassification was abandoned soon after).

142 Harrison Bryan. ‘Jean Primrose Whyte’. ALJ 38 (1) 1989, 14.

143 Jean Whyte to the Secretary, American Association of University Women, 1952. NLA: MS 9616.

144 Ibid.

145 Jean Whyte. ‘Curriculum vitae’, [1972?]. NLA: MS 9616.

146 ‘Doubling the number’. Canberra Times, September 28th, 1972.

147 ‘Valuable grant for study in U.S.’. Advertiser [SA], March 18th, 1953, 11.

148 Jean Whyte. ‘Second Report to American Association of University Women’, 1954. NLA: MS 9616.

149 This was the generally acknowledged view at the time. Osborn recommended Harrison Bryan as his successor, not Whyte. Jean did not apply for the position of Librarian at Macquarie University in 1971 following the death of Barry Scott, and Bryan records that he proposed Eoin Wilkinson for the position (Harrison Bryan. No Gray Profession, 1994, 68).

150 For example, Malvina E. Wood was Librarian of the University of Western Australia (1927–1959).

151 Monash University Council. ‘Minute of Appreciation. Professor J.P. Whyte’, 1989. NLA: MS 9616.

152 Brian McMullin. ‘Yadlamalka girl shaped Australian librarianship’. The Age, April 18th–19th, 2003, 19.

153 ‘Doubling the number’. Canberra Times, September 28th, 1972.

154 Andrew Osborn to Jean Whyte, May 15th, 1973. SU: M 465.

155 Geoffrey Alley to Jean Whyte, July 25th, 1974. J. McEldowney Personal Collection, Dunedin, New Zealand.

156 Neil A. Radford. ‘Harrison Bryan, Librarian’, 1988, 2. Were all things equal? Jean had overseas qualifications but was still not appointed to positions gained by men with less experience and lesser qualifications.

157 Interview: Ross Harvey, 2005.

158 Jean Whyte and Neil A. Radford. ‘Obituaries’. The Australian, May 7th, 1997, 14.

159 The others were Maureen Brunt in Economics, appointed in 1966, Enid Campbell in Law (1967), Mollie Holman in a personal chair in Physiology (1970), and Marie Neale who was a research professor in Education (1970) (Simon Marginson. Remaking the University, 2000, 34).

160 ‘Woman takes new chair at Monash’. Standard Times [Carnegie, Victoria], January 15th, 1975.

161 Jean Whyte to the Editor, Canberra Times, January 10th, 1975.

162 G. H. Pitt to Jean Whyte, July 24th, 1948. SLSA: PRG 1335/3–4.

163 G. H. Pitt to Jean Whyte, June 2nd, 1968. SLSA: PRG 1335/3–4.

164 Susan Magarey and Kerrie Round. Roma the first, 2007, 21.

165 ‘Mitchell, Roma Flinders’. In Graeme Davison, John Hirst and Stuart Macintyre, eds. Oxford Companion to Australian history, 1998, 432–433.

166 Interview: Grecian and Ross Day, 2008.

167 Ibid.

168 Transcript of a conversation between Jean Whyte and Geoffrey Alley, 1981. MON 1059: 2000/68/5.

169 Andrew Osborn to Jean Whyte, October 15th, 1961. SU: M 465.

170 Jean Whyte. ‘The librarian’s task, 1962: an editorial’. ALJ 11 (2) 1962, 55–60.

171 Transcript of a conversation between Jean Whyte and Geoffrey Alley, 1981. MON 1059: 2000/68/5.

172 Jean Whyte. ‘Some Reminiscences of Geoffrey Alley’, 1995, 1. J. McEldowney Personal Collection, Dunedin, New Zealand.

173 Jean Whyte and Neil A. Radford. ‘Obituaries’. The Australian, May 7th, 1997, 14.

174 G.R. Manton. [Notes for a speech prepared for the retirement of Hector Monro], 1976. MON 1059: 2000/68.82.

175 Community Library Matters, 2004.

176 Ibid.

177 Interview: John Legge, 2008.

178 Interview: Jane and Gordon Monro, 2005

179 Harrison Bryan. ‘Jean Primrose Whyte’. ALJ 38 (1) 1989, 6.

180 ‘Late start, but Jean Whyte has the last word’. Monash Reporter, 9–88, 1988.

181 Interview: Brian McMullin, 2008.

182 Interview: Douglas Muecke, 2005.

183 Ibid.

184 Jean Whyte. ‘Qualifications necessary for joining the staff of the Public Library of S.A.’. Foggy Dew 1 (7) 1956.

185 ‘Minute of Appreciation. Professor J.P. Whyte’, 1989. NLA: MS 9616.

186 Jean Whyte to D. Bradley, September 10th, 1981. MON 1059: 2000/68.42.

187 Transcript of a conversation between Jean Whyte and Geoffrey Alley, 1981. MON 1059: 2000/68/5.

188 Ibid.

189 The subject of Jean’s Adelaide M.A. was to have been the Australian literary ballad (‘Valuable grant for study in U.S.’. Advertiser [SA], March 18th, 1953, 11), which she had hoped to complete by June 1952 (Jean Whyte to the Secretary, American Association of University Women, 1952. NLA: MS 9616). I have been unable to ascertain the subject of Jean’s planned Sydney Master’s (Honours) thesis; it may have been the seventeenth-century author Katharine Phillips, perhaps as a result of the first part of the Macdonald collection arriving in Sydney (Brian McMullin. Personal communication, May 3rd, 2006).

190 Australian Literature in Tertiary Libraries: Project Report, 1987; Margaret Isaacs, Linda Emmett and Jean P. Whyte. Libraries and Australian literature, 1988.

191 Interview: Sara Miranda, 2008.

192 Interview: Grecian and Ross Day, 2008.

193 Interview: Elizabeth Morrison, 2008.

194 Brian McMullin. ‘Yadlamalka girl shaped Australian librarianship’. The Age, April 18th–19th, 2003, 19.

195 Interview: Harrison Bryan, 2005.

196 Brian McMullin. ‘Yadlamalka girl shaped Australian librarianship’. The Age, April 18th–19th, 2003, 19.

197 Jean Whyte to Andrew Osborn, January 28th, 1959; SU: M 465.

198 Jean Whyte to Andrew Osborn, February 15th, 1959. SU: M 465.

199 Jean Whyte to Andrew Osborn, February 21st, 1959. SU: M 465.

200 Interview: Joan Barry, 2005.

201 Interview: Douglas Muecke, 2005.

202 Interview: Grecian and Ross Day, 2008.

203 G. H. Pitt to Jean Whyte, April 15th, 1969. SLSA: PRG 1335/3–4.

204 B.J. Zerman. [Medical report], 1981. NLA: MS 9616.

205 Jean Whyte to Andrew Osborn, February 18th, 1959. SU: M 465.

206 B.J. Zerman. [Medical report], 1981. NLA: MS 9616.; Interview: Douglas Muecke, 2005.

207 Interview: Brian McMullin, 2008.

208 Interview: Ray Olding, 2008.

209 Interview: Douglas Muecke, 2005.

210 Jean Whyte. ‘Position application and curriculum vitae’, 1959. NLA: MS 9616.

211 Jean Whyte. ‘The Accreditation of Courses in Librarianship’, 1974, 593 (quoting Matthew 18:20).

212 Jean Whyte. ‘Direct service to readers’, 1977, 312 (quoting John 10:10).

213 Jean Whyte. ‘Doubts at midnight’. Foggy Dew 1 (1) 1956 (quoting Mark 12:17).

214 Jean Whyte. ‘Position application and curriculum vitae’, 1959. NLA: MS 9616.

215 Neil A. Radford. ‘Obituaries. Jean Primrose Whyte AM’, [2003].

216 Interview: Grecian and Ross Day, 2008.

217 Jean Whyte. ‘Head not heart’. ALJ 26 (10) 18, 1977, 326.

218 David J. Jones. Personal communication, April 3rd, 2006.

219 Ibid.

220 Roma Mitchell. ‘To whom it may concern’, May 11th, 1956. NLA: MS 9616. I wonder whether this was written for Jean’s unsuccessful application for a position at Melbourne University.

221 Interview: Neil Radford, 2005.

222 Brian McMullin. Personal communication, May 3rd, 2006.

223 Neil A. Radford. ‘Notes for talk at Jean Whyte’s funeral’, 2003.

224 Interview: Michael Talbot, 2005.

225 Jean Whyte to Andrew Osborn, February 21st, 1959. SU: M 465.

226 [‘From “One of his many friends”’]. [Newspaper clipping], [1921]. SLSA: PRG 1335/10.

227 ‘Obituaries. Rev. Alexander Macully, M.A., LL.B.’. The Observer [SA], January 15th, 1921, 34b.

228 Interview: Wallace Kirsop, 2008.

229 John Levett. ‘In conclusion’. ALJ 36 (4) 1987, 292–295.

230 ‘Lectures for Institutes’. South Australian Institutes’ Journal, June–July 1915, 674.

231 Susan Magarey and Kerrie Round. Roma the first, 2007, 152.

232 Community Library Matters, 2004.

233 Interview: Elizabeth Morrison, 2008.

234 Harrison Bryan. ‘Jean Primrose Whyte’. ALJ 38 (1) 1989, 14.

235 Jean Whyte to Andrew Osborn, January 14th, 1959. SU: M 465.

236 Ibid.

237 Prim did not have an easy life: he lived most of his life in lonely, remote areas; he was widowed shockingly and suddenly; he had experienced the horrors of World War I; he had brought up children alone in the bush; and he found retirement to the suburbs difficult (Interview: Mavis Crawford, 2008). Some of these experiences may have contributed to mental illness in later life. He is buried in the Macully family plot at St Jude’s Cemetery, Brighton, with his wives Kitty and Eileen, their sister Norah and their parents Maria Julia and Alexander, with a plaque to remember Arnold, who died in France.

Billie died in September 2005 – although she was still alive while this book was being written it was not possible to interview her.

The information on Prim’s medical condition came from his case notes, which are held on microfiche in the Medical Records Department, Glenside Campus of the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

238 Rachel Salmond. Personal communication, September 13th, 2008.

239 Interview: John Legge, 2008; Interview: Grecian and Ross Day, 2008.

240 Interview: Douglas Muecke, 2005.

241 John Levett. Obituary. Remembering Jean Whyte, 2003.

242 Mavis Crawford. ‘Emeritus Professor Jean Primrose Whyte, AM’.

243 ‘The unknown anniversary’. In A.D. Hope’s Orpheus. North Ryde, NSW: Angus and Robertson, 1991, 36–37. Reproduced courtesy of Curtis Brown Literary Agents on behalf of the Estate of A.D. Hope.

Jean Primrose Whyte

   by Coralie Elsenore Janis Jenkin