Museum and library staff around the country get asked all sorts of interesting and unusual questions about our prime ministers. Here we share some of them with you.
Q: Since 2013 I have been reading biographies or autobiographies of all of our PMs, in order. I am up to Chifley but had to skip Forde since I could not find one. Apart from a MA thesis from UQ in 1973 I cannot see that anyone has written extensively on Forde. Has anyone published a bio of our shortest serving Prime Minister ?
A: We are not aware of any full length biography on Forde. Any of the publications on Australian prime ministers, as you have indicated, usually cite the 1973 thesis by David Gibson as the only exclusive biographical work on Forde.
The National Library has an oral history recording conducted by Mel Pratt with Forde in 1971. The interview is 203 minutes long and includes references to other prime ministers and political figures.
In 1973 the first Frank Forde Address was delivered and in 1985 it was given by Bob Hawke. The address contains some biographical information on Forde, with the text available on the PM Transcripts website.
Leslie Cowles, Western Sydney University to the Museum of Australian Democracy
Q: I have searched but can't find why Earle Christmas Grafton Page had Christmas as a middle name. He wasn't born at Christmas, but he was born at Grafton. Do you have any idea ?
A: You are right, the name Christmas wasn’t given to Earle Page because he was born around Christmas – he was born on 8 August 1880. The best explanation we’ve found comes from the Clarence River Historical Society, who have told us that Earle Page’s father had a sister, Mary. Mary married a Hugh Frederick Christmas. They had no children, but perhaps they wanted the name ‘Christmas’ to be carried on, and approached her brother with a request that Earle be given the name.
Dr Chris Bourke MLA to the Museum of Australian Democracy