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Sir William Mitchell (1861-1962) &
Sir Mark Ledingham Mitchell (1902-1977)
Papers ca. 1890-1978

MSS 0033

Contents Listing

Sir William Mitchell

Sir William Mitchell was Professor of English Language and Literature and Mental and Moral Philosophy 1894-1922, Vice-Chancellor of the University 1916-42 and Chancellor 1942-48.

Sir William Mitchell was born on 22 or 27 March 1861 at Inveravon, Scotland. He graduated from the the University of Edinburgh with an M.A. with first-class honours in philosophy (1886) and D.Sc. by thesis (1891) in the department of mental science. Mitchell then lectured in philosophy and was an examiner in English and philosophy at the University of Edinburgh from 1887-94, and also lectured in education at University College, London, and was an examiner in education for the University of Cambridge and in English for the Royal University of Breslau, Germany.

Threatened tuberculosis led Mitchell to seek in 1894 the Hughes Professorship of English Language and Literature and Mental and Moral Philosophy in the University of Adelaide. He rapidly established himself as an intellectual and educational leader among his colleagues and the wider community. In 1895 he was elected to the university council on which he sat for fifty-two years. By 1900 he had achieved a fundamental restructuring of the curriculum for the arts degree and, in collaboration with (Sir) William Bragg, had laid the foundation for significant development in the education of teachers.

Throughout his term as professor (1895-1922) he taught psychology, logic, ethics and general philosophy. His scholarship and original thinking in psychology and philosophy brought him overseas acclaim. Mitchell was vice-chancellor (unpaid) of the university from 1916 until 1942 when he became chancellor, retiring in 1948. During his administration Mitchell saw the establishment of a dental school (1920), the Waite Institute (1924) and the school of economics; there was great development in the engineering and medical schools, and a trebling of the university's physical resources. He was appointed K.C.M.G. in 1927.

In 1934 Mitchell provided a set of iron gates for the main entrance to the university grounds, and also gave £20,000 to endow the chair of biochemistry to which Mark had already been appointed, and £5000 to the Barr Smith Library in 1940. The university in 1961 named its original building, now devoted to administration but during his time used also for teaching, the Mitchell Building. Physically incapacitated during the closing years of his life, Mitchell died, aged 101, on 24 June 1962.

On 18 January 1898 he married Marjorie Erlistoun, daughter of Robert Barr Smith, who died of ??? in 1913. They had a daughter, Joanna “Nan” Mitchell in 1900, and in 1902, a son, later to become (Sir) Mark, professor of biochemistry and physiology (1938-62) and deputy vice-chancellor (1951-65) at Adelaide, and chancellor of the Flinders University of South Australia (1966-71).

Series 1
Greetings on his 94th and 100th birthdays and statement of the Chancellor in Council on his death, and correspondence re Mitchell's date of birth.  1955, 1961-62.  6 items.

Series 2
Newspaper cutting re Mitchell's donkey and the pets of Professor Mackellar Stewart and A.C. Minchin, and Mawson's dificulties with possums, 1932, and newspaper photograph of the dinner in the Refectory in honour of Mitchell's 80th birthday [1941].  2 items.

Series 3
Photographs. c.1890-1961.  15 items (most undated)

  • 2 photographs of William Mitchell as a young man, one with dog and one with bicycle
  • 2 oval photographs William Mitchell early 1900s, 1 in frame
  • Sir Mark Mitchell, Joanna Thomson and Sir William Mitchell, Fitzroy 1931
  • Sir William Mitchell with the Governor (Sir Winston Dugan) and Misses Eva and Lily Waite on the University Footbridge on its official opening, 9 August 1937
  • The Governor, Sir William Mitchell in academic dress, Grant Hosking in front of Bonython Hall, 15 March 1947
  • Sir William Mitchell and Vivien Leigh in front of Bonython Hall, 1948
  • Sir William and Sir Mark Mitchell, February 1957. 2 photographs
  • 'Da' (Sir William Mitchell) with his dog, Jack. 1950s
  • Sir William Mitchell on his 100th birthday, 1961, with grandchildren? 2 photographs
  • Sir William Mitchell at 100 years old with Dr Helen Mayo

Photographs of Marjorie Erlistoun Mitchell (nee Barr Smith) Donated by the family of Donald Simpson in 2019
On 18 January 1898 William Mitchell married Marjorie Erlistoun (d.1913), daughter of Robert Barr Smith

  • Erliston Barr Smith as a young girl
  • 3 photographs as a young woman
  • Erliston and William Mitchell ca 1898
  • Erliston Mitchell with Joanna Roberta Mitchell as baby, 1900 or 1901
  • Erliston Mitchell with Mark Mitchell as baby 1902
  • Group photograph Creveen School students, including Nan Mitchell, Molly Legoe, Margaret Darnley Naylor, Betty Wilson, Miss Tuck, Misses Rita and Kathleen Cussen and Arthur Rymill ca 1916? With an incomplete ms list. [IN MAP CABINET]

Series 10
Newspaper cuttings, photographs, letters of congratulation, addresses and obituary notices relating to Sir William Mitchell, collected by Dr. V.A. Edgeloe.  1898-1962.

Series 11
Notebooks. Manuscript notes on philosophy and other studies, lectures, reprints and some correspondence. 118 items. A listing is available.

Sir Mark Ledingham Mitchell

Sir Mark Mitchell was Professor of Biochemistry and General Physiology 1938-62, Deputy Vice-Chancellor 1951-65 and Chancellor of Flinders University 1966-71.

Series 4
[Final?] address as Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Adelaide, and addresses as Chancellor, Flinders University, at Commemoration and other ceremonial occasions, including his own admission to the D.Sc.  c. 1965-71.  12 items.

Series 5
Letter from the Registrar, Flinders University, forwarding Council's tribute on his retirement.
6 April 1971.

Series 6
Obituary notice from the Australian journal of Experimental Biology and Medical Science August 1978, with covering letter from the editor.

Series 7
Newspaper cuttings.  1932-77.  5 items.

Series 8
Photographs. c.1904-1971.  1 album and 10 loose items.(many undated)
see also three photographs of Sir Mark with Sir William in Series 3.

Series 9
"Order of the Unground Axe" - certificate presented to Sir Mark Mitchell as President of the National Fitness Council of South Australia, December 1965.
Sketch and photograph of [proposed?] Mitchell coat of arms.
Program of Memorial Assembly, Bonython Hall, 16 June 1946.

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Barr Smith Library
South Australia 5005


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