James Henry Scullin – Fact sheet 75

James Henry Scullin
James Henry Scullin (NAA: A3560, 6102 (detail))

Prime Minister of Australia 1929–32

Active in trade union affairs and the Labor Party for most of his adult life, James Scullin served a term in the House of Representatives as Member for Corangamite (1910–13). Then in 1922 he returned to parliament in the seat of Yarra. He held this seat for the next 27 years. Leader of the Labor Party from 1928, James Scullin became Prime Minister following the defeat of the Bruce government in the 1929 election. While Prime Minister, he held the portfolios for external affairs, industry and the treasury.

Scullin's government was confronted by the worst years of the Great Depression, which denied him the economic climate in which to introduce the government's program. But it was also faced with internal party crises, including the need for the Treasurer, Edward ('Ted') Theodore to stand aside during 1930, and the damaging Lang Labor split. Losing the support of key parliamentarians – a group led by Joseph Lyons, who later joined the Nationalists in the United Australia Party, and the five Lang Labor members – brought down Scullin's government.

Scullin retained the Labor Party leadership after the defeat of his government in 1931, remaining as Leader of the Opposition until 1935. In that year he was replaced by John Curtin. Scullin did not seek a ministry in Curtin's wartime government, but was regarded as a valuable adviser to the Prime Minister.

James Scullin retired from parliament in 1949 and died in Melbourne in 1953.

Records relating to James Scullin held by the National Archives

The Archives holds one small series of records identified as having being accumulated by James Scullin. The Archives also holds many records that relate to Scullin, either during his period as Prime Minister, or his years as a senior backbench member of the Curtin government during World War II.

In the tables below, reference numbers are linked to the item or series in RecordSearch, the Archives database. There you can find more information. In many cases you can view entire digitised records. The information will appear in a new browser window.

Personal records of James Scullin

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesPapers relating to the Short Wave Broadcasting Service and other matters1942AA1972/315

Other records relating to James Scullin

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesMildenhall photographic collection of early Canberra – contains over 50 photographs of Scullin as Prime Minister – see samples below1921–35A3560
ItemOpening of the 16th parliament – Rt Hon. JH Scullin, 13th Prime Minister1929A3560, 4993
ItemArrival of Mr Scullin at Canberra railway station with welcoming crowds1929A3560, 6098
ItemScullin 16th ministry – Labor Cabinet1929A3560, 6126
ItemPortrait of Prime Minister James Henry Scullin in his office1929A3560, 6190
ItemChanges in Commonwealth ministers (Scullin and Lyons)1929–32A461, B4/1/3 part 1A
SeriesScullin ministry – folder of typed copies of Cabinet minutes1929–31A3264
ItemScullin government – reasons for its defeat1929–32A5954, 1174/10
ItemHistoric memorials – portrait of Hon. JH Scullin1930A458, BL370/2
ItemLeague of Nations – 11th assembly – Mr Scullin's address and notes1930A981, LEAGUE 11th Ass 9
ItemGovernor-General – appointment of Sir Isaac Isaacs by the Scullin government1930–31M4794, 2/7
ItemDraft of a debt conversion agreement and copies of speeches by JH Scullin and EG Theodore1931A432, 1931/1716 attachment 11
ItemScullin, Rt Hon. JH1931A1606, AF25/1
ItemAustralian defence policy review by Scullin government – estimates of expenditure 1931–32 – Defence Committee minute1931A5954, 1012/5
ItemPortrait of Rt Hon. JH Scullin MP by PI White1932–37A463, 1965/1747 part A
ItemReport by Hon. J Scullin on uniform taxation1942–46A571, 1945/3202 part 1
ItemCondolences – Rt Hon. Scullin, JH – messages1953A462, 860/2/66
ItemCondolences – state funeral – Rt Hon. Scullin, JH – administrative arrangements1953A462, 860/2/67
ItemRt Hon. JH Scullin1959A5954, 70/2
Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019