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Melbourne Olympics, 1956


Conducted against the backdrop of the Suez crisis and the Hungarian Revolution, the Melbourne Olympics began in October 1956.

The Games were centred around the Melbourne Cricket Ground and in terms of gold medals, were one of the most successful ever for Australian athletes.

Competitors such as Betty Cuthbert, Shirley Strickland, Murray Rose and Dawn Fraser dominated their events and television, introduced in Australia in time to broadcast the events, made sure their success became part of Australian sporting history.

Fact Sheet 57 - National Archives of Australia

Record holdings


Files held by the Archives though, tend not to deal with athletic successes. The majority are administrative records created by the Prime Minister's Department, which was responsible for coordinating the Commonwealth government's role in the organisation of the Games. The bulk of these records are on our RecordSearch database, which can be accessed in any of our reading rooms, but some selected items are described below.

Examples of Prime Minister's Department and Cabinet Office records

Title or description of records | Date | Series & item no.

Olympic Games – Commonwealth financial contribution
1953–1956
A463, 1956/1418 Parts 1 & 2

Olympic Games – Film and television rights
1955–1960
A463, 1956/1040

Olympic Games – Publicity
1956
A463, 1956/1247

Olympic Games – Melbourne's preparations and program
1956
A463, 1956/1379

Olympic Games 1956 – Financial assistance policy
1951–1956
A4940, C423

Construction of Olympic Village – Commonwealth finance
1953
A4940, C682

Proposal for issue of Olympic Games commemorative coin
1956
A4940, C1574

Security records

Due to the nature of contemporary world events and the general political climate of the time, a number of files concerning the Games were created by Australia's security organisations, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Commonwealth Investigation Service. These include the following records.

Title or description of records | Date | Series & item no.

Soviet and Eastern Bloc Olympic teams – Germany Volume 1
1956–1958
A6122, 1249

Soviet and Eastern Bloc Olympic teams – Hungary Volumes 1 & 2
1955–1956
A6122, 1251 & 1252

Soviet and Eastern Bloc Olympic teams – Russia Volume 1
1956
A6122, 1256

Visit of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh to Australia 1956 – vetting file
1956
A1533, 1956/1518C

Allegations of counterfeit United States currency in Melbourne for issue at Olympic Games
1956
A1533, 1956/3465

External Affairs records

The Department of External Affairs was also involved in the arrangements for the Games. The Soviet Union had not had diplomatic representation in Australia for several years, but the Department sought to have this policy revoked for the duration of the Olympics. The Department was also involved when the Hungarian team applied for political asylum.

Title or description of records | Date | Series & item no.

Consular representatives in Australia – USSR – Re two consular officers for Melbourne Olympic Games
1956
A1838, 1515/1/58/1

Olympic Games – policy – general
1954–1956
A1838, 1603/1 Part 1

Political asylum – Hungarian Olympic Team in Melbourne
1956–1958
A1838, 1606/4

Records of Olympic organising committees

Numerous records created by the various committees of the Organising Committee of the 16th Olympiad are also held by the Archives. These records are held within series AA1967/379, and are all listed on RecordSearch. Amongst these records are papers of the following committees:

Photographs

Use the Archives' PhotoSearch database, available on our website at www.naa.gov.au to locate photographs of the Melbourne Olympics taken by the former Australian news and Information Bureau (ANIB). Relevant ANIB correspondence files are also held in series A6895. Some examples of items are listed in the table below.

Sound recordings. Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) audio recordings of key events from the Olympics are also held. Some examples are listed below.

Title or description of records Date Series & item no.
Files about photographs and film
Olympic Games film

1954–59

A6895, N56/173

Olympic Games – Olympic News Release
1954–57
A6895, N56/182

Olympic Games – tourism by-products
1955–56
A6895, N56/180

Lewis Luxton Olympic Games – TV
1956
A6895, N56/176 Part 1

Sound recordings
Swimming final 100m women's freestyle 1956 Olympics, won by Dawn Fraser [audio recording]

1956

C100, 78/7/133*

Final 100m women's sprint 1956 Olympics, won by Betty Cuthbert [audio recording]
1956
C100, 78/7/141*

* located in Sydney

Viewing the records

All records referred to in this fact sheet are available to the public in our reading room in Canberra, except those marked with an asterisk (*), which are located in Sydney.




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