Series 547 - James Sinclair Papua New Guinea Research Collection

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James Sinclair Papua New Guinea Research Collection


  • 1948 - 2013 (Creation)

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Name of creator

(28 April 1928 - 9 October 2017)

Biographical history

James Patrick Sinclair was born in Dubbo NSW on 18 April 1928. He attended Dubbo High School, Sydney Grammar School and the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) in Sydney. In November 1947, he Joined the Department of District Services and Native Affairs, Administration of Papua New Guinea. After attending an orientation course at the Australian School of Pacific Administration he proceeded to Papua New Guinea in August 1948 as a cadet patrol officer. He also attended the No 4 Long Course at ASOPA in 1953 - 1954. From 1948 to 1975 he served successively on many stations as a patrol officer, assistant district officer, deputy district commissioner and district commissioner. He was the last Australian District Commissioner of the Eastern Highlands District, 1969-1974.

During his service James Sinclair conducted extensive exploratory and pacification patrols in Morobe and Southern Highlands Districts. He opened the station of Koroba in 1955, Lake Kopiago base camp in 1956 and explored the then Uncontrolled area to the Strickland River until late 1958. He married Janece Marie McGrath in January 1959 and had three children. He subsequently served in charge of the Wau, Finschhafen and Lae Sub-Districts before moving to the Eastern Highlands in 1968.

James Sinclair retired in August 1975 following Independence in Papua New Guinea. He returned to his previous hobby of writing on Papua New Guinea history, which became a full-time occupation and he has since published more than 30 books. His first book, ‘Behind the Ranges’¸ was published in 1966 and told of his exploratory work in Morobe and the Southern Highlands. In 2013, several publications edited by James Sinclair were ready for publication, including publications about Peter Fox, A Lloyd Hurrell and John Middleton. Jim died on 9 October 2017.

Honours: James Sinclair has been awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1992; the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from the Australian National University in 1999; and a Companion, Order of the Star of Melanesia (PNG) in 2008.

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Scope and content

The collection was made by James Sinclair in 1973 -1974 from files held by TPNG District Administration, Konedobu.The collection includes patrol reports, station journals and district annual reports (including selected memoranda), together with various other reports, reviews and studies with detailed indexes compiled by Bob Cole listing patrol number and date, patrol officer and area patrolled, photocopies and some original documents held in binders, departmental correspondence and reports and manuscripts and publications, collected by James Sinclair, together with some Department of District Administration confidential files, and Sinclair’s notes on various archives and secondary sources.

Includes documents given to James Sinclair by Sir John Gunther, J.K. McCarthy, Robert Cole and the family of Sir Donald Cleland.


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Researchers must sign an access agreement

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Pacific Manuscripts Bureau (PMB) Box list

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Created by Christine Bryan on 19 May 2014




Pacific Manuscripts Bureau PMB Box list

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