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Family history sources in the University Archives

A brief history of the ANU

The Australian National University Act established a national research institution in 1946. The first Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Douglas Copland, was appointed in 1948, and the research schools were established with academic staff, many recruited from overseas, and postgraduate students. See the History of the ANU for a timeline and more detail.

There are several predecessors to the University:

  • The Canberra University College (CUC), which was established primarily to provide undergraduate tuition for public servants, held its first classes in 1930. It was a college of the University of Melbourne, so although the students were in Canberra, their degrees were awarded by the University of Melbourne. The CUC and the ANU amalgamated in 1960, so this was when the ANU first had undergraduate students.
  • The Commonwealth Solar Observatory established in 1924 was transferred to the ANU as the Mt Stromlo Observatory in 1957.
  • The Australian Forestry School (established 1926) became part of the ANU in 1965 as the Forestry Department in the School of General Studies.
  • The Canberra School of Music (1965) and the Canberra School of Art (1976), which amalgamated in 1987 to become the Canberra Institute for the Arts, transferred to the ANU in 1992.

The ANU Archives exhibition, Building Australia's National University: 75 Years of the Australian National University outlines and illustrates the history of the campus and many of its buildings. This is a valuable reference for where ANU staff and students studied, worked, lived and socialised.