Series 556 - Records of the Research School of Social Sciences

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Records of the Research School of Social Sciences


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(1949 -)

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The Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS) is Australia’s major institution for theoretical and empirical research in the social sciences. It provides a distinctive multi-disciplinary environment for research. In 1947 Australian-born Professor of History W.K. Hancock was chosen to be the Academic Advisor for the School of Social Sciences with the eventual hope that he would take on the job as Foundation Professor. His initial plans for the structure were for nominal departments in Economics, Statistics, Population and Health Studies, Law, Political Science, Social Anthropology, Psychology, History and Philosophy, Sociology and Geography. Initial failure in trying to find suitably qualified individuals to take up posts and the resignation of Raymond Firth from the Academic Advisory Committee led, at the end of 1948, to Hancock advocating that the Pacific Studies and Social Sciences schools be established under one head until the Council decided that each had grown enough to be separate. This proposal was rejected because the emphasis on Pacific Studies was seen as one of the major points that had persuaded the government to accept the university proposal. This event was to prove the catalyst for a parting of ways between Hancock and the Committee. Sir Frederick Eggleston took the opportunity to begin to draw up new plans for the Social Sciences School with K.C. Wheare, Gladstone Professor of Government and Public Administration at Oxford, as advisor. The interim council accepted his proposal of chairs in Political Science, Economics, Social Philosophy, Law and History; with Readers in Demography and Statistics. The first appointment in Social Sciences was that of W.D. (Mick) Borrie with the title of Research Fellow in Demography in 1949, with professorial appointments in 1950 including Geoffrey Sawer in Law and Trevor Swan in Economics. Three readers were also appointed: Laurie Fitzhardinge in Australian History, L.C. Webb in Political Science, and H.P. (Horrie) Brown in Economic Statistics. In 1952 P. A. P. Moran was appointed chair in Statistics and and P. H. Partridge as chair in Social Philosophy. Later departments included Economic History and Sociology, and the Education Research Unit, the History of Ideas Unit, the Urban Research Unit, the Australian Dictionary of Biography, and the Archives of Business and Labour.

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Entered from series register 7 March 2014.




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