• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE6222

Ross, Barbara

(1929 – 2005)
  • Born 1 January, 1929
  • Died 21 May, 2005, Adelaide South Australia Australia
  • Occupation Archivist, Author, Historian, Researcher, Scholar


Barbara Ross was a historian and a former staff member of the National Library of Australia (NLA). Prior to the NLA Barbara worked as a County Record Office archivist in England and as an archivist with the Commonwealth Archives Office in Canberra. For a time she also worked as a valuer under the Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme.


Barbara Ross grew up in the English countryside near Birmingham. She attended Stourbridge County High School and was head girl during her final year. Barbara won a scholarship to Manchester University, which she attended from 1947 to 1950 and majored in languages. Afterwards she enrolled in the archives course at University College, London, and her first job upon graduating was at the Shropshire Country Record Office. Barbara met her husband, Douglas Ross, on an archaeological dig and the pair married in 1955. Two years later they migrated to Australia, living for a short time in Melbourne, before settling in Canberra.

From 1961 to 1964 Barbara worked at the Australia National University Archives (later the Noel Butlin Archives Centre); she was their first professional archivist. In 1964 she returned to her love of medieval history by joining the new medieval history unit in the ANU History Department. Unfortunately the unit was discontinued four years later.

Initially working in the Archives Division of the National Library of Australia (now the National Archives of Australia), Barbara went on to spend nearly twenty years working part-time as a medieval specialist in the manuscript department. Here she curated several small exhibitions, compiled guides, and answered enquiries.

In addition to her paid work and research, Barbara spent time volunteering at Monica House, a St Vincent de Paul women’s refuge in Canberra.


Archival resources

  • National Library of Australia, Manuscript Collection
    • A guide to the illuminated addresses in the National Library of Australia, 1862-1968 [manuscript]
    • The accounts of the Talbot household at Blakemere in the County of Shropshire, 1394-1425 [manuscript]
    • Papers of Barbara Ross, circa 1960-1996 [manuscript]
    • Records relating to St. Benedict's School, 1955-1980 [manuscript]
  • ACT Heritage Library
    • HMSS 0049 Barbara Ross Papers
  • National Library of Australia
    • [Biographical cuttings on Barbara Ross, author, containing one or more cuttings from newspapers or journals]
  • National Library of Australia, Oral History and Folklore Collection
    • Audrey Dau interviewed by Barbara Ross on the history of St. Benedict's School, Narrabundah
    • L.F. Fitzhardinge interviewed by Barbara Ross [sound recording]
    • Nora Randall, Mrs. Gowing and Mrs. Cuppins interviewed by Barbara Ross on the history of St. Benedict's School, Narrabundah
    • Father Hilton Roberts, Margaret Wilson, Judy Agnew and Mary O'Donnell interviewed by Barbara Ross on the history of St. Benedict's School, Narrabundah

Related entries

  • Related Organisations
    • Australian National University Women's History Group (1982 - 1987)
  • Related Concepts
    • History and Historians