New South Wales government administration increased four-fold during the first six decades of the twentieth century with population growth and greater community expectations. Ministerial Departments proliferated to manage and regulate various forms of social welfare that had been unthinkable in the previous century. Employment of staff for this burgeoning administrative corps and teaching service became the responsibility of the Public Service Board. The Board exerted rigid centralised control over every aspect of administration. The result was a moderately efficient, loyal and conformist bureaucracy structured around fixed routines, where innovation was not encouraged. Despite some notable achievements, its officials sometimes stumbled when faced with the major social upheavals of the period. Peter Tyler's history shows that, although often derided by the citizens of New South Wales, the bureaucracy showed pragmatism in solving problems, prudence in avoiding controversy, and predictability in the consistency of its performance. "Humble and Obedient Servants" is the second volume of "The Administration of New South Wales".
The first volume, by Hilary Golder, "Politics, Patronage and Public Works", covers the period from 1842 to 1900.
Peter J. Tyler is a professional historian based in Sydney. Following an early career in local government administration, he worked as the chief executive for organisations in adult education, rehabilitation, environmental health, and the building industry. His postgraduate research at the University of New England examined the development of public health services in New South Wales. Dr Tyler is Immediate Past President of the NSW Society of the History of Medicine.
Abbreviations; Foreword; Preface; Acknowledgments; CHAPTER 1 Birth of the meritocracy; CHAPTER 2 'Newly arisen, how brightly you shine'; CHAPTER 3 Labor gains office; CHAPTER 4 Postwar recovery begins; CHAPTER 5 Depression and some relief; CHAPTER 6 Darkening horizons; CHAPTER 7 Planning a new society; CHAPTER 8 Building for the future; CHAPTER 9 The end of another era; APPENDIX A NSW public servant numbers, 1901 - 1960; APPENDIX B Public Service Board chairmen, 1896 - 1979; APPENDIX C Departmental structure, 1960; Notes; Bibliography; Index.