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Green, Harold Godfrey (1909–1978)

by Marjorie Morgan

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

Harold Godfrey Green (1909-1978), research journalist and indexer, was born on 29 November 1909 at Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, son of Solomon Aaron Green, an electrical engineer from London, and his Adelaide-born wife Alice Maude, née Jacobs. As a child, Harry lived in Melbourne with his impoverished, widowed mother and was educated (1919-24) at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School, possibly through the generosity of Sol Solomon, her wealthy and close relation.

Sixteen years employment with David Syme & Co. Ltd was interrupted on 2 June 1941 when Green enlisted in the Australian Military Forces. He performed clerical duties in Australia and was promoted corporal before being discharged on 21 May 1946. At Wesley Church, Melbourne, on 7 November 1953 he married Stephanie Taylor (1891-1974), an artist who had studied at the National Gallery school, and who lectured on art on the radio and at the National Gallery of Victoria. In 1955-60 Green organized and administered the Age's reference library.

As his career developed, Green worked mainly in the establishment of efficient information-retrieval systems for a variety of employers, including the Commonwealth Department of Shipping and Transport, the Municipal Officers' Association of Australia and several large commercial companies. In 1971 he joined the Commonwealth Department of Trade and Industry as a research journalist; he retired in 1974, after establishing a comprehensive cataloguing system. He was a member of the Australian Journalists' Association and the Library Association of Australia.

Throughout his working life Green indexed books as a part-time interest. He was employed by many publishers, among them Butterworth & Co. Ltd, Thomas Nelson Australia Pty Ltd, Oxford University Press and Sun Books Pty Ltd. His enthusiasm led him to establish an Australian branch of the Society of Indexers in 1971; next year he became the society's Australian corresponding member and organized correspondence courses in indexing. He was chairman (1971-75) of the Society of Indexers in Australia (Australian Society of Indexers from 1976). Following his retirement, Green continued indexing, and writing historical novels, none of which was published. At the Methodist Church, Glen Iris, on 18 October 1975 he married Maud Ethel Myers, née Waite, a 65-year-old widow. They moved from Melbourne to live at Maryborough.

A quiet, self-effacing man with a gentle personality, H. Godfrey Green earned the respect of those who knew him. His colleagues valued his efficient and meticulous record-keeping and indexing. Of the latter he once wrote: 'Book indexing is a stimulating and satisfactory vocation with adequate rewards and a sense of personal satisfaction. The indexer's task is the important one of producing what might be described as a guide to a book without which the book is almost useless. His job is a lonely one, like that of a poet or an author'.

Green died of a ruptured aortic aneurysm on 24 April 1978 at Maryborough and was cremated; his wife survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Society of Indexers Newsletter, Sept 1978
  • Age (Melbourne), 26 Apr 1974
  • private information.

Citation details

Marjorie Morgan, 'Green, Harold Godfrey (1909–1978)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/green-harold-godfrey-10352/text18331, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 20 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

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