The Sir Zelman Cowen Collection was donated in March 2012 by Lady Anna Cowen and contains the books and journals from Sir Zelman Cowen’s Commonwealth Office Library. Victoria University has a strong connection with Sir Zelman Cowen, who was a former Australian Governor-General and distinguished legal academic.
The Sir Zelman Cowen Centre forms part of the Victoria University Office for Research and Research Training. The Centre provides training, research and support to the government, judiciary, legal practitioners, court staff and other professions associated with the legal sector.
The Collection is located in the Special Collections Room, P402, at the Footscray Park Campus Library of Victoria University and will be catalogued over the next year.
Who was Sir Zelman Cowen?
Sir Zelman Cowen, AK GCMG GCVO QC, was one of Australia's most distinguished jurists. He was born in St Kilda in 1919, and studied law at Oxford University.
From 1951, he was Professor of Public Law and Dean of the Faculty of Law at Melbourne University. He was knighted in 1976 and appointed as the 19th Governor-General of Australia from December 1977 to July 1982.
Sir Zelman became Provost of Oriel College Oxford in 1982 and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Oxford in 1988. He also served as Chairman of the UK Press Council between 1983 and 1988.
In 1994 Sir Zelman accepted the positions at Victoria University of Distinguished Visiting Professor and Chair of the Victoria University Foundation. As Chair of the Foundation, he led the University's efforts in gaining philanthropic support for students in their studies, including contributions for prizes and scholarships. On retiring as Chair of the Foundation he agreed to continue his involvement by accepting an honorary appointment position as Inaugural Patron and remained a staunch friend of the University.
Sir Zelman passed away on 8 December 2011. Sir Zelman Cowen's portrait is on display at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.
What is in the Collection?
The Sir Zelman Cowen Collection contains around 1500 books and journals and is an essential snapshot of the interests of this important figure in Australian political and legal life. The collection strengths include Australian constitutional law, federal politics and the law, Australian architecture and Australian literature. The time period spans the duration of the public career of Sir Zelman Cowen.
Access to the Collection
The Sir Zelman Cowen collection is a research collection. The items can't be borrowed, but may be viewed on appointment.
In the library catalogue, these items have the prefix FTS COWEN COLL. before the shelf number.
To access material in the collection, please email our Special Collections librarians. You will receive an emailed response within 24 hours (Mon-Fri) and a suitable time will be arranged.
You can view the items in the Special Collections reading room on level 4 of the Footscray Park campus library.
Other useful resources
- Sir Zelman Cowen on Trove
- Sir Zelman Cowen Gallery of Australian Jewish History
- Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund includes a tribute to Sir Zelman Cowen
- Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Buildings