Dr Margaret Lorraine George (1945–74)

Margaret George was a young Australian historian whose work Australia and the Indonesian Revolution was published posthumously by Melbourne University Press in 1980, six years after her premature death. Her book was the first detailed account of Australia's approach to Dutch–Indonesian relations between 1945 and 1949.

George's ability to work with original materials and to conduct thorough and perceptive diplomatic analysis was evident in her graduate studies in history. She was accepted into a PhD program in the Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific Studies at the Australian National University (ANU) in 1970. Her resulting doctoral thesis Australian Attitudes and Policies towards the Netherlands East Indies and Indonesian independence, 1942–1949 is considered a notable contribution to the history of Australian foreign policy.

Her referees and examiners attested to her outstanding ability in conducting empirical research and her enterprise in locating and gaining access to source materials in both Australia and the Netherlands. George learnt Dutch in order to undertake extensive research of materials held in the archives of the Netherlands. As a result of her diligence in using original materials and interviewing people involved in the unfolding of historical events, her work contained a great deal of new information.

She played a leading role in the ANU Historical Society and undertook short-term research appointments with the Department of External Affairs and the Commonwealth Archives Office, which later became the National Archives of Australia. After completing her doctorate George was appointed National Education Officer with the Australian Freedom from Hunger Campaign.

Her PhD was conferred posthumously on 19 April 1974, only a month after her untimely death from diabetes-associated viral myocarditis at the age of 28.


Dr Graham George, personal correspondence, December 2003.
Margaret George, Australia and the Indonesian Revolution, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1980.
Australian National University Archive, Administration and correspondence papers for student Margaret Lorraine George 1963–1974.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019