The Alexander Downer Collection includes items from Sir John, Sir Alick and Alexander and comprises items dating from 1887 through to 2014. It includes correspondence, reports, diaries, newspaper clippings, photographs, artwork and realia. Many items in the collection have been collected from diplomatic engagements and international travel.
The Downer family has made a significant contribution to South Australian politics since the 1880's.
Alexander Downer served in the Australian Diplomatic Service until 1982. In 1984 Alexander Downer was elected to Federal Parliament as the Liberal minister for the seat of Mayo. He held this position until he resigned from Parliament in 2008. He was the Leader of the Liberal Party from May 1994 to January 1995. Alexander Downer was the longest serving Foreign Minister in Australian history, serving from 1996 - 2007. In February 2014 he was appointed the Australian High Commissioner to London. In 2013 Alexander Downer was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in recognition of his service to parliament.
Sir Alexander (Alick) Downer worked as a barrister before joining the Australian Army in 1940. On his return after the war Sir Alick joined the Liberal Party. In 1949 he was elected to the House of Representatives and served as the Minister of Immigration between 1958 and 1963. From 1963 until 1972 Sir Alick became the Australian High Commissioner to London. In 1965 he was awarded the order of the British Empire - Knights Commander (Civil).
Sir John Downer was a prominent South Australian barrister prior to becoming the Premier of South Australia between 1885 - 1887 and 1892 -1893. In 1901 he was elected as one of the inaugural Senators in the First Parliament of Australia. In 1905 he returned to State politics where he served on the South Australian Legislative Council until his death in 1915. Sir John was awarded the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George - Knights Commander (KCMG) in 1887.