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PROF. PAYSON J. TREAT, STANFORD HISTORIAN of AUSTRALASIA & JAPAN

This cover was sent ‘ON HIS MAJESTY’S SERVICE’ from The Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, “The Rialto”, Collins Street, Melbourne and it is addressed to Professor Payson J. Treat, Dept of History, Leland Stanford Junior University, California, U.S.A. It has a brown TWO SHILLINGS Roo on map of Australia stamp (watermark not known) with a perfin small O S, as well as the 1d red KGV head with the same OS perfin, both cancelled MELBOURNE/ 12 15A 1 MY 17/ VICTORIA (Figure 1).

The ABS, originally known as the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, came into being on the eighth of December 1905, when the Census and Statistics Act was given assent. But it had its beginnings in the constitution that the visionary founding fathers brought into being before Federation. They recognised that statistics were going to be important to the new nation and set up the legislative arrangements that have stood the test of time.

Payson Jackson Treat was born in New York November 12, 1879, the son of Erastus Buck and Rhoda Ann Goslee Treat. Treat earned his A.B. degree at Wesleyan University, Connecticut, in 1900, and his A.M. degree at Columbia University, which was conferred in 1903. In the fall of 1903 he went West to study with Professor Max Farrand, a distinguished scholar in American history and Executive Head of Stanford's History Department. Stanford appointed Mr. Treat as an Instructor. The President of Stanford University, David Starr Jordan, thought that Treat would be a good choice for pioneering new studies in the Far East and Australia. The two concluded in 1906 that Treat should have a leave of absence for the year 1906-1907 to allow him to go to the Orient and Australasia to prepare for his new assignment and to gather materials for the library.

Treat traveled to India, East Asia, and Australasia, launching his career as a pioneer American scholar in the field of Far Eastern history. While traveling he purchased Australasian historical materials using funds provided by wealthy benefactors, thereby making Stanford the foremost repository of Australiana for decades to come. Treat's lectures in Australian history, which he initiated in 1907, were the first ever to be given anywhere if one excepts a course on English immigration to Australia offered by Professor E. D. Adams at Stanford in 1904.

Although he changed fields of specialization close to the beginning of his scholarly career, Payson Treat completed his doctorate under Max Farrand, and Stanford conferred its first Ph.D. in History on Treat in 1910. His dissertation, The National Land System, 1785-1820, published in 1910, won high praise from reviewers. During the remainder of his active scholarly life, which extended well into his emeritus years, Professor Treat poured his immense energy into research, writing, and teaching in the field of East Asian history. He made three additional research trips to the Orient and Australasia -- 1912, during the early days of the Republic of China, and at the time of the death of Meji; 1921-22, not long after the close of World War I; and 1936, as tensions mounted between the United States and Japan.

Treat published three monographs (one in three volumes) on the diplomatic relations between the United States and Japan and a general textbook on the political and diplomatic history of the Far East. He was a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society of London and a member of the American Historical Association on whose Executive Council he served from 1926 until1930.

He served for seven years from 1922-1929 as Executive Head of the History Department following E. D. Adams' fourteen years in that post. Mrs. Treat, the former Jessie McGilvray, a Stanford alumna and his former history student, joined her husband in graciously entertaining students, alumni, colleagues, and friends in their lovely campus home. In retirement Professor Treat continued active professionally and socially until the early 1970's and he died at his Stanford University campus home on June 15, 1972.

A poor scan of a photograph of Professor Payson Treat is seen in Figure 2.

 
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