The Library holds records of Victorian political parties, politicians and activists across the political spectrum. Most political papers can be found in the manuscripts collections; however, substantial holdings of political ephemera, including leaflets, posters and a small number of photographs, can be found in the Riley & Ephemera Collection, part of the Library's Australiana collection.
In addition to unpublished sources, the Library's Australiana collection is home to a substantial collection of published political histories, biographies, autobiographies and related critical works on Victorian politics.
Together these collections provide fascinating insights into party organisation and division, and the ways political parties and related groups operated in Victoria.
Highlights of our collection of political papers include the:
- records of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), from 1915 to 1995, consisting of over 600 boxes of records, photographs, press clippings, tapes and films
- records of the Victorian branch of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP), from 1857 to 1978, including some ALP material and providing evidence of major internal divisions in the labour movement during the 1950s and '60s.
- political and personal papers of ALP politician Sam Merrifield (1904–82), featuring political ephemera, photographs, newspapers, books, pamphlets
- papers of political activist and thinker BA Santamaria (1915–98), a staunch opponent of Communism and major influence on the DLP; this extraordinary collection of over 115 linear metres, contains material relating all aspects of Bob Santamaria's career.
We also have papers from the following politicians:
- Hans William Henry Irvine (1856–1922), Victorian and federal politician
- John Button (1933–2008), ALP senator and minister for industry and communications
- John Cain (1931–), ALP politician and Victorian premier
- Rupert Hamer (1916–2004), Liberal Party policitian and Victorian premier
- Richard McGarvie (1926–2003), ALP member and governor of Victoria
- Race Mathews (1935- ), ALP Victorian and Federal politician.