Stanley Melbourne Bruce – Fact sheet 74

Stanley Melbourne Bruce (NAA: A6180, 20/5/74/41)

Prime Minister of Australia 1923–29

Born in Australia in 1883 and raised in Melbourne, Stanley Melbourne Bruce studied at Cambridge before settling in London in the years before World War I. During the war he served with the British Army in Egypt (where he was awarded the Military medal) and Gallipoli (where he was awarded the French Croix de Guerre). Wounded at Gallipoli in 1915 he was invalided to London. In 1917 Bruce returned to Australia to join the family importing firm of Paterson, Laing and Bruce.

Bruce entered the House of Representatives in 1918, winning a by-election for the seat of Flinders. He served as Treasurer (1921–23) in the Hughes Nationalist Government, and became prime minister in 1923 when new coalition partners, the Country Party (led by Earle Page), would not accept Hughes as Nationalist Party leader. As well as prime minister in the Bruce–Page Government, Bruce also held the portfolios of External Affairs (1923–29), Health (1927–28), and Trade and Customs (1928).

Legislation designed to return responsibility for conciliation and arbitration to the states caused the downfall of Bruce’s government in 1929 when Hughes and a number of his colleagues who had defected from the Labor Party in 1917 voted with the Opposition to defeat the bills. Bruce lost his seat in the subsequent election and, although he regained it in 1931, he resigned from parliament in 1933 to take up appointment as Australian Minister (later High Commissioner) in London. As well as serving as High Commissioner from 1933 to 1945, Bruce also represented Australia at the League of Nations during the 1930s.

Records of Stanley Melbourne Bruce held by the National Archives

The National Archives holds a comprehensive collection of records created and accumulated by Stanley Bruce. These include private records covering his personal achievements, but also records relating to his period as prime minister, minister and member of parliament, and his long period of service as High Commissioner in London. Many of these are listed in the table below. You can search the collection to find more information about these records.

Further information

The Australia's Prime Ministers website contains further information on the life and political times of Stanley Bruce, and the location of archival and other research resources on him and his career.

Memento, Issue 24 – 'An officer and a gentleman' (pdf, 980kb)

Research guide – Stanley Melbourne Bruce: Guide to the Archives of Australia's Prime Ministers

The National Library of Australia also holds a collection of papers of Stanley Bruce.

Records of Stanley Melbourne Bruce

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesFolder of commissions, certificates, degrees, memberships and other official documents1906–46A1487
SeriesParliamentary Debates (Hansards) for the Senate and House of Representatives1917–29AA1970/67
SeriesDecorations, insignia, presentations and other objects1918–57M4254
SeriesMiscellaneous official and private papers1918–67AA1970/555
SeriesElection pamphlet for Nationalist candidate Captain Bruce1919A1495
SeriesNotes of deputations to the Prime Minister1919–29CP362/2
SeriesCorrespondence with Rt Hon WM Hughes, MP1921–23A1492
SeriesBooks from the personal library of SM Bruce1921–62AA1970/558
SeriesDocuments concerning the Hughes Cabinet1921–59A1494
SeriesVolume of press cuttings relating to Imperial and Economic conferences1923–24A1486
SeriesNegotiations between the Nationalist and Country parties1923–57A1493
SeriesSpeeches and articles written by SM Bruce1923–24A1489
SeriesSpeeches by the Prime Minister1923–28CP362/3
SeriesPersonal papers of the Prime Minister1923–29CP362/4
SeriesPapers accumulated by SM Bruce1923–56AA1970/559
SeriesCorrespondence with External Affairs Liaison Officer, London1924–30A1420
SeriesFile of carbon copies of speeches on economic issues1924–66A1490
SeriesPrinted copies of addresses1924–25A1491
SeriesCorrespondence with Senator RV Wilson1924A1496
SeriesCorrespondence with Frank Lidgett McDougall1924–29M111
SeriesFolders of annual correspondence1926–64M104
SeriesPapers relating to visit to London, USA and Canada1924–27CP362/5
SeriesTravel and appointments diaries of SM Bruce1930–40M113
SeriesCorrespondence files maintained by RG Casey1925–75M1129
SeriesBinders of debt conversion notes, cables and correspondence1932–33M110
SeriesFolders of official papers and correspondence, London1932–45M2236
SeriesCorrespondence with RG Casey1933–38A1421
SeriesPhotograph album of Conference de Montreux 1936, Montreux Palace1936M112
SeriesPhotograph album of High Commissioners for the Dominions and for India and Ambassadors to the Court of St James, London1937M114
SeriesSupplementary war files1938–43M103
SeriesMonthly war files1939–45M100
SeriesSubject index to monthly war files1939–45M102
SeriesDetailed name and subject index to monthly war files1939–41M109
SeriesName index to monthly war files1943–45M101
SeriesCopies of Citations on Award of Honorary Degrees and Freedom of Cities1967A1488

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