Lord John Russell papers now open access

05 May 2023

The ANU Library is very pleased to advise that the Lord John Russell papers are now digitised and available through the ANU Open Research repository.

This project was done in collaboration with The National Archives in Kew, the official archive and publisher for the UK Government.

The digitisation replaces materials lost in the Chifley flood of 2018.

Significance of the collection

The Lord John Russell Papers provide insight on convicts and transportation, colonial appointments, and British interests in the Pacific. They detail many decisions relating to the policies and governance of Australian colonies.

The papers are a valuable resource for those researching British and colonial history, and hold particular importance for those interested in Australia’s colonial history, as Russell was central to many significant decisions including the decommissioning of New South Wales as a penal colony.

The addition to our digital collection is significant, as we are the first library to make digital copies of the papers available.

We wish to thank the Public Record Office of the UK Archives for their support in making these papers available. You can view the papers in full online now.

About Lord John Russell

Lord John Russell (1792-1878), had a long and noteworthy political career. He held many offices, including Foreign Secretary, Secretary of State for the Colonies, Home Secretary, and Leader of the Opposition. He was also Prime Minister twice. He presided over the Colonial Office in 1839-41 and from February to July 1855.

Russell appointed the Colonial Land and Emigration Commission to exercise wider functions throughout the empire as a whole, but particularly in Australia. He was responsible for the appointment of Captain George Grey as governor of South Australia, and in 1840 he had disallowed an Act of the Legislative Council of Western Australia that permitted the evidence of Aboriginals to be accepted without oath in criminal cases and provided that summary corporal punishment might be inflicted on Indigenous peoples.

Learn more about Lord Russell