It is hoped a recent gift to AIATSIS of personal items belonging to Alfred 'Alf' George Stafford, a Gamilaroi and Darug man from NSW, will bring to light a life filled with distinguished moments, including being the personal driver to 11 Australian Prime Ministers and friend and confidant of Sir Robert "Ming" Menzies.
The Stafford Papers, gifted to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) in August 2014, highlight Mr Stafford’s remarkable untold story and role in Australia’s political history.
The collection includes personally signed letters and photographs from prime ministers and political figures, material relating to his induction into the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE), military service and sporting achievements. It also includes genealogical and family history research painstakingly collected by his granddaughter and collection donor Michelle Flynn.
AIATSIS Collections Director, Lyndall Osborne, said the deposit is evidence of an Aboriginal presence in Australia’s political history where it was not known to be before.
"What a remarkable Australian story we are discovering. We are really pleased the family chose to deposit the collection with us," Ms Osborne said.
"We will document and preserve this important story for future generations to explore and learn about a man with Aboriginal heritage who was not only a close personal friend of much-loved former Prime Minister of Australia, Sir Robert Menzies, but also lived at the Lodge."
The donor, Michelle Flynn, was very close to her grandfather and inherited his personal collection in 1996. She has spent the past 17 years using the family tree outline in the collection to trace the Stafford family history.
"I was fascinated by the family tree and it started from there. Grandpa always told me we had Aboriginal background, but I never really believed him. We’ve got Gamilaroi on one side and Darug on the other. I’ve had a lot of fun with the journey," Michelle said.
After winning a tour of AIATSIS with ABC 666 Radio in July, Michelle was inspired and decided her grandfather’s collection should be deposited with AIATSIS.
"I'm very proud of my grandfather and happy that his story will be preserved and honoured here. I always thought it was a great story, now it can be shared with the rest of Australia. Otherwise it was just sitting under my bed," Michelle said.
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