Former Prime Minister John Howard with some of his personal papers and Commonwealth records at the UNSW Canberra Academy Library.

Former Prime Minister John Howard with some of his personal papers and Commonwealth records at the UNSW Canberra Academy Library. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Former prime minister John Howard is making his papers publicly available in a deal with the University of NSW to house his collection.

The records will be available to the public online and in the newly-created John Howard Reading Room, to be opened later this year at the UNSW Canberra Academy library.

The collection of Australia’s second-longest serving prime minister, currently held by the National Archives, contains more than 10,000 personal papers and government records from the early years of Mr Howard’s political career, through to his time as treasurer in the Fraser government, opposition leader and prime minister.

Some of former Prime Minister John Howard's personal papers and Commonwealth records at the UNSW Canberra Academy Library.

Some of former Prime Minister John Howard's personal papers and Commonwealth records at the UNSW Canberra Academy Library. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

The announcement of the transfer of the papers, valued at $1 million, is being made on Thursday afternoon at UNSW Canberra.

This will be the first partnership of its kind where the custody of a personal collection consisting of both personal and government papers is transferred under legislation governing the National Archives.

The university will begin to receive papers from May this year which will include records from the period 1974 to 1996.

The remainder of the collection will be transferred progressively as the records become available for public access.

Notes, personal papers, correspondence, early Commonwealth records, press clippings, transcripts of speeches and interviews, will be available from this year.

Papers from the first years of Mr Howard’s prime ministerial period will become available in January 2019, with the complete set available by 2028 after the staged release by the Archives.

‘‘This is a great arrangement and I am enthusiastic about its potential, I especially welcome the initiative of the University of New South Wales,” Mr Howard said in a statement from the university.

‘‘Given that defence and related matters bulk large during my time as prime minister, it is appropriate that UNSW Canberra, at the Australian Defence Force Academy, should be the place for my papers.”

UNSW Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer said the university was delighted to be custodian of such an important archive.

“With its expertise in Australian political and military history, the UNSW Canberra campus is a natural home for the John Howard Collection,’’ he said.

‘‘We hope to build on this important resource, which will provide a unique perspective on a critical period in Australia’s history.’’