Ian Maclean's career in archives spanned 50 years. He is best remembered for his service to government archives, for which he was made a member of the Order of Australia in 1996. He was the inaugural vice-president of the Australian Society of Archivists and held national and international positions in the archival profession.
Maclean was born on 20 October 1919 in Invercargill, New Zealand. He completed his schooling at Scotch College in Melbourne and graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1940 with a BA (Hons). He served in the Australian Army from 1941 to 1944 and was posted to an anti-aircraft unit in New Guinea.
On 30 October 1944, he was appointed to the position of Archives Officer at the Commonwealth National Library.
The National Archives of today can trace its origin to Ian Maclean's appointment in 1944.
In 1958, Maclean was awarded a Commonwealth scholarship to travel to Europe and North America, meeting key people and researching archival systems overseas.
The Commonwealth Archives Office became a separate authority from the Commonwealth National Library in 1961. Maclean remained Chief Archives Officer until 1968. Under his leadership, the Commonwealth Record Series system (CRS) was implemented in 1966. This system helps to control records in an environment where government departments change names and functions frequently.
After leaving the Commonwealth Archives Office in 1968, Maclean was the Principal Archivist for the South East Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO) in Bangkok until 1974. He later served as a consultant for UNESCO in Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
In 1974, Maclean returned to Australia to take up a Director's position at the Australian Archives. In 1975 he became Deputy Keeper of Public Records in Victoria. A year later he was appointed Principal Archivist at the Archives Authority of New South Wales, where he remained until 1980. In his retirement, he continued to be actively involved in archives, always willing to share his knowledge.
Ian Maclean died in 2003 aged 83.