Project Plan

The aim of HDAE is to nominate elite groups, to identify each of their individual members, and to provide key biographical data about those individuals, to enable systematic study of those individuals, the elite groups and elites in Australia in general.


The geographical scope of HISTORICAL DATA ON AUSTRALIAN ELITES is the present extent of the Commonwealth of Australia – the six States and three internal Territories – plus Norfolk Island. The temporal scope, at least for the foreseeable future, is the colonial period of Australian history: from the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 to the eve of Federation in 1901. At some point I would like to extend the project into the twentieth century, but given the great amount of work needed to cover the colonial period, such an extension will be some years away.

The fields of data planned for inclusion for each person covered are:

  • Basic identifying data: full name and any variants; titles; dates and places of birth and death, details of arrival in Australia; occupations
  • Genealogical data: parents, children and spouses, with particular note of any relatives who are also included in the data sets
  • Sociological data: sex, ancestry, religious affiliation, class of origin
  • Education and career: degrees, professional qualifications, positions held (with salary details when available)

Of course, not all data will be available for all persons in the data sets. Some data sets will include only some of these fields, especially in the early stages of the project.

Additional data to be made available will be statistical summaries and aggregates derived from the data on individuals.

What will not be included in HISTORICAL DATA ON AUSTRALIAN ELITES are biographies as such, with narrative accounts, analyses and assessments of individuals’ lives.


The formats in which the data will be made available will vary from time to time, depending on technological changes. At present the following formats are contemplated:

  • Books in the form of Adobe PDFs
  • Microsoft Excel spreadsheets
  • Microsoft Access databases

The purpose of having multiple formats is to enable the reader to have the data in the form which is most suitable for his purpose and which best matches his own skills and preferences.

A feature of all the contemplated formats is that they are all electronic (although the PDFs will be designed for easy printing). As electronic objects they can be easily updated, and it is my intention that each data set will be updated from time to time, perhaps annually, as additional data comes to hand.


HISTORICAL DATA ON AUSTRALIAN ELITES will identify the sources for all data included, so that the reader is able to trace each item back to the source from which it was obtained. This will enable the reader to form his own judgements on the reliability and quality of the HDAE data, and to identify transcription and data entry errors. Principal sources to be used include official publications such as government gazettes and parliamentary papers, as well as archival documents and vital registration records. Secondary sources will include a large range of published biographical and historical material, including standard references such as the Australian Dictionary of Biography.


This website is planned to be the sole distribution point for HDAE data. No charge will be made for the data, although it will be subject to some form of copyright protection.