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Leading the Way: Sir John Monash

Introduction


John Monash, 1894

 

Debate about the descriptor for Victoria's second university was not prolonged and through an enabling Act 1958, Monash University became one of a very few universities in the world named after a military hero. Of German-Jewish immigrant stock Sir John Monash was Australian, indeed Victorian, to the core and is still regarded as Australia's greatest fighting General. He was possessed of such diverse talents that his scholastic failures as a young man serve to remind us that even great men are human and that focus, application and determination are key ingredients for success as much in academia as in other spheres of life.
 

This exhibition based on Monash University's small collection of Sir John Monash Memorabilia cannot aspire to celebrate the life of John Monash. The biography by Geoffrey Serle published in 1982 does that to perfection. Monash is too young a university to have been a candidate for the receipt of any part of the main collections of Monash Papers which are deposited with the National Library of Australia and the Australian War Memorial, whilst certain of his business papers are in the University of Melbourne Archives. Over the years, however, members of the Monash family and other private individuals have identified with the university and presented it with photographs, certificates and artefacts from a variety of sources all reminiscent of John Monash, the man.

Not all items are directly in the care of the University Archives but this exhibition will serve to record what there is and provide pointers to where particular items may be found if not in archival custody.

The exhibition was initiated and created by Catherine Nicholls and Jan Getson with some assistance from 'the boss'. Enjoy and do let us know what you think of it!

Ann M. Mitchell
University Archivist
(1988-2003)


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