Activists in Aggregate: Collective Biography, Labour History, and the Biographical Register of the Australian Labour Movement, 1788-1975
Andrew Moore, Yasmin Rittau, John Shields
Despite the solid – if occasionally polemical – record of research and publication in the biographical genre by Australian labour historians over the past sixty years, there are hundreds if not thousands of labour activists whose lives have remained un- or under-documented; lost, for all intents and purposes, to both the established scholar and the enthusiastic student. The Biographical Register of the Australian Labour Movement 1788-1975 represents an attempt to address these lacunae by publishing brief (300-700 word) biographical entries on some 2,000 activists about whom we have been able to discover at least a fragment of information and whom we consider to have made a significant but hitherto un- or under-recorded contribution to the movement’s history at the national, State, regional and/or local scale at some point down to the mid-1970s.
Our paper traverses the Register’s founding aims and subsequent evolution. It also sets the project in wider historiographical context, including within the genre of Australian labour movement biography and projects in collective labour biography in other countries. With the Register’s 2,000-plus entries now at the point of on-line publication, we can also now reflect, with a degree of confidence, on what we see as its revelatory aspects. Its publication on-line, complete with a detailed statistical spreadsheet allowing aggregated analysis of activist demography and dimensions of activism, sheds light on the historical landscape of Australian labour activism. The entries and accompanying statistical database assist us to better explain the often deeply personal well-springs of labour activism, and reveal some significant demographic factors and trends underpinning labour activism. These include birthplace, parental occupation, residency, family structure and size, religion, education level, marital status, age at first activism, longevity of activism, and the like. The entries also illuminate important institutional and ideological facets of labour activism. Perhaps most excitingly, they also allow us to shed light on some hitherto submerged socio-spatial facets of the collective experience. While we cannot pretend that we have recognised more than a few of these aspects, we wish to make mention of nine specific issues and themes upon which we believe the Register entries, taken together, do cast additional light:
- Varieties of activism
- Generations in revolt: waves of militancy
- Activist life trajectories
- Intimate unions: the importance of family and kinship
- The power of place
- Spatial variation
- Unsettled lives: militants on the move
- A labour intelligentsia?
- Leadership and legitimacy
In these and other respects, we see the Register as a significant means of furthering our understanding of Australian labour movement activism. Our most fervent hope is that the Register’s publication will mark a new beginning rather than an end. Assisted by the manner of its publication on line, we like to think of it as a living resource, there to be read and re-read, supplemented, corrected, and criticised by succeeding generations of Australian labour historians. In this sense, like the work of the people whose lives it acknowledges, the Register may become a truly collective cause uniting successive generations.
Andrew Moore is an Associate Professor of History of the University of Western Sydney, a member of the editorial working party of Labour History and the NSW working party of the Australian Dictionary of Biography. His most recent book, Mr Big of Bankstown. The Scandalous Fitzpatrick and Browne affair is being published by UWA Publishing in October.
Yasmin Rittau is a research assistant in the Discipline of Work and Organisational Studies and editorial assistant for Labour History within the Business School at the University of Sydney. She has a special interest in trade union strategy and cooperation between union, employer and government bodies at the regional and workplace levels.
John Shields is professor of human resource management and organisational studies in the University of Sydney Business School, where he teaches, researches and publishes in the fields of employee performance and reward management, corporate governance and business and labour history. He has a special interest in historical understandings of paid employment and labour management theory and practice and is a late middle age convert to the view that numbers are not necessarily bunk. John is a member of the Labour History editorial working party and currently serves as the journal’s editor.
Despite the solid – if occasionally polemical - record of research and publication in the biographical genre by Australian labour historians over the past sixty years,1 there are hundreds if not thousands of labour activists whose lives have remained un- or under-documented; lost, for all intents and purposes, to both the established scholar and the enthusiastic student. One such figure was Charles Hart, president of the Balmain Labourers’ Union in the 1880s and a driving force in the formation of the Balmain Labor Electoral League in 1891. Until the publication of Issy Wyner’s history of the Ship Painters and Dockers Union2 in 1983, Hart’s key role in the formation of the Labor Party in urban New South Wales had been wholly forgotten. As Wyner intimates, this forgetfulness may not have been entirely accidental:
Why then, is Hart ignored by historians? Why do they prefer to turn to the political ‘stars’ – Hughes, Holman, Fisher? Is it because their histories are so well-documented, easy to research, whereas Hart’s is buried beneath the general imbroglio of nearly a century of history? Or is it rather a lack of desire to point learners in the direction which, undoubtedly, would place a new, different, more genuine, more discerning appreciation of Australian labor’s origins, aims and aspirations? 3
According to Humphrey McQueen, under the editorship of Fred Alexander militant unionist figures were systematically excluded from the pages of Who’s Who in Australia down to the mid-1960s.4 Labour affiliations also seem to have been subjected to a form of collective cultural amnesia in Cold War and post- Cold War Australia. This is particularly so of key figures in the Anzac legend. As research by Peter Cochrane revealed many years ago,5 John Simpson Kirkpatrick – of Simpson and donkey fame – was an active unionist before his Gallipoli exploits conferred on him an altogether different public identity. Similarly, the late Alex Campbell, who in his final years was eulogised as a ‘last Anzac’ was a lifelong unionist and long-time labour leader in his home state of Tasmania, a fact rarely noted by those who sought to represent him as a national treasure.6
The Biographical Register of the Australian Labour Movement 1788-1975 represents an attempt to address these lacunae by publishing brief (300-700 word) biographical entries on 2,050 activists about whom we have been able to discover at least a fragment of information and whom we consider to have made a significant but hitherto un- or under-recorded contribution to the movement’s history at the national, State, regional and/or local scale at some point down to the mid-1970s.
The project had its origins in discussions that took place during and after the first national conference of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History [ASSLH], which was held in Sydney in the spring of 1989. Based at the University of Western Sydney, which provided seed funding and facilities, in 1990 the project achieved additional momentum by means of a major grant from the Australian Research Council. Nevertheless, the project has had a far longer gestation than any of us could have imagined and we have to confess that, in the initial years, naively perhaps, we greatly underestimated the research, information sifting and writing time required to achieve our goal. Since 1993, the project’s completion has essentially been a labour of unpaid, fitful love. However, the Register is now nearing completion and on a scale somewhat grander than originally planned; indeed, we now expect that, when it begins to appear in on-line form from September 2011, it will comprise entries slightly more than our initial target of 2,000 activists. The entries will be released progressively on-line as a living research resource via the website of the Business and Labour History Group based in the Business School at The University of Sydney.
As is the nature of such projects, the Register has evolved over time. In line with the revolution in information technology over the past fifteen years, it has morphed from being planned as a once-off paper-based publication into a ‘living’ on-line resource able to be supplemented, corrected and updated by users via a website moderator. Since its launch, the Register has also come to assume a purpose beyond that of mere gap-filling. As well as enveloping us in empirical detail, our quest of historical redress has also taken something of a heuristic turn. Apart from allowing us to detail the public lives of hundreds of individual labour activists over two centuries and more, the Register, by its nature, also opens new windows on the roots and contours of Australian labour activism and the nature of common cause. By drawing together biographical information on hundreds of individuals in a new way, the Register is helping to uncover, rediscover or underline some of Australian labour’s hidden or forgotten dimensions. We think that the Register will also contribute to a better understanding of the diversity and division which has so often characterised the history of Australian labour. Its publication on-line, complete with a detailed statistical spreadsheet allowing aggregated analysis of activist demography and dimensions of activism,7 should help to shed a great deal more light on the historical landscape of Australian labour activism.
While compiling potted biographies on hundreds of individuals might seem like a quaintly antiquarian and not particularly intellectual exercise, we believe that the Register project does occupy a cutting-edge position in a number of important respects in the field of Australian labour history. Most obviously, it is the first systematic attempt to employ a biographical approach to flesh out the historical shape and texture of the Australian labour movement in anything like a comprehensive fashion; it is also the first attempt to draw together in a systematic way the substantial and ever-growing body of biographical information appearing in secondary sources – from research monographs to scholarly articles in our ‘journal or record’, Labour History. Moreover, as this paper seeks to demonstrate, the project also has the potential to encourage a reconsideration of the value of biographical method in general, and of collective biography in particular, in labour historiography.
The present paper seeks to outline our project and why it matters. It depicts the Register project as a case study of the application of collective biographical method to the study and understanding of labour history. It also sets our project in its international context, describing similar biographical projects such as the British Dictionary of Labour Biography that have strongly influenced our interest in collective labour biography. Finally, we elaborate on nine aspects of Australian labour activism which we believe the Register’s collective biographical approach has brought to light and which we think add to our understanding of labour activism and the labour movement in this country.
Biography, Collective Biography and Australian Labour History
In 1838, the English historian Thomas Carlyle observed that ‘History is the essence of innumerable biographies’. Carlyle’s contemporary, American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson carried the point a step further, suggesting that ‘There is properly no history? only biography’.8 Such observations, conducive as they are to the ‘great man’ approach to historical understanding, may be more than a little unsettling to those of us (from social historians and sociologists to anthropologists and ethnographers) who continue to embrace the dictum that the social whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts. Yet the recognition that a biographical perspective can enrich our understanding of historical processes, agency and experience cannot be dismissed so lightly, for it also highlights the essentially humanist point that the central subjects of history are, after all, human beings - people acting alone, in concert, in conflict, in confidence and certainty, in fear and confusion. Such a position should be more than familiar to those schooled in the work of E. P. Thompson and the New Social History of the 1960s and 1970s. It also leads, inevitably, to a recognition of the importance of the individual in labour history, modifying the traditional Marxist objection to the role of the individual in history and, hence, to the potential worth of biographical method and insight.9 Indeed, as Thompson’s own work demonstrated so effectively,10 biographical method has great potential as a means of better understanding both individual labour activists and the communities from which they arose and which sustained them. While it may be going too far to suggest that the New Social History has induced a ‘biographical turn’ in labour historiography, its impetus was undoubtedly to alert us to the worth of biographical method as a means of enriching our understanding of working life and working lives.
Australian labour historians, of course, are no strangers to biographical method? and they continue to produce a steady output of high-quality single- subject studies of key figures from the political and industrial wings of organised labour. Among the classics in the political genre are Fitzhardinge’s William Morris Hughes, Robertson’s J. H. Scullin, Murphy’s T. J. Ryan, Mansfield’s Edward William O’Sullivan, O’Farrell’s Harry Holland, and Nairn’s Jack Lang.11 More recent contributions in this category include David Day’s books on Curtin, Chifley and Fisher, the studies of H. V. Evatt by Crockett and Buckley, Dale and Reynolds, Fitzgerald’s books on Fred Paterson and Ted Theodore, McMullin’s study of Chris Watson, Hocking’s Lionel Murphy and Gough Whitlam, and Cunneen’s William John McKell.12 Although full-length biographies of activists outside of the parliamentary sphere remain scarce, Robin Gollan’s 1962 observation that ‘there is no worthwhile biography of a trade union leader’13 is certainly no longer the case. Studies which come to mind here are Stuart Macintyre’s Paddy Troy, Susannah Short’s study of her father Laurie, and Stephen Holt’s biography of Lloyd Ross.14 We also now have a respectable number of full-length biographies of other labour activists and writers, including Peter Cook’s biography of Ted Laurie, Michael Wilde on Mary Gilmore, Pam Young on Emma Miller, Janette Bomford on Vida Goldstein, Carole Ferrier on Jean Devanny, Bobbie Oliver on Jean Beadle, and Hall Greenland on Nick Origlass.15 A recent highlight is Paul Adams’ biography of Percy Brookfield.16 The most engaging of these single- subject biographies employ a ‘life and times’ approach, where the subject is seen both as a product of her/his milieu and as a lens through which to view that milieu in sharper focus. As Hearn and Knowles observe, individual biographical inquiry along these lines has itself come to play a significant part in the processes of labour movement reprise and renewal:
a focus on the individual clarifies that labour’s mission is not blindly imposed by historical forces but requires a self-conscious rededication from successive generations of activists, leaders and biographers, often themselves labour activists.17
As other studies demonstrate, biographical method also has application well outside the bounds of the traditional single-subject biography. Following the precedent set by that excellent 1983 publication Rebels and Radicals,18 labour historians have also begun to experiment with various forms of multi-subject or collective biography. On the one hand, there are institutional studies based on multiple chapter-length portraits of leading figures. Examples include Marilyn Dodkin’s work on the postwar secretaries of the Labor Council of New South Wales, and the multi-author study of the Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales, edited by Greg Patmore and comprised of chapter studies of each of the Commission’s nine presidents since its foundation in 1902.19 In an obvious sense, these are works of collective biography.
Collective biographical method is also being applied in more integrated ways as a narrative and analytical technique in mainstream labour historiography. For instance, in Ross McMullin’s centenary history of the ALP20 the narrative is constructed largely around a passing parade of activists, parliamentarians, ministers and prime ministers. The tenor is unashamedly biographical. Much the same is true of Bobbie Oliver’s history of the Labor Party and Trades and Labor Council in Western Australia.21 Mark Hearn and Harry Knowles’ history of the Australian Workers Union22 also has a strongly biographical flavour and while the gaze is mainly on the union’s male power brokers, the authors also invoke biographical technique as a way to reconstruct the world of the rank-and-file union member. Likewise, there are strong biographical undertones in Michael Hogan’s history of the Labor Party in inner-Sydney Glebe and the multi-author studies of regional political history in New South Wales since the advent of responsible government, edited by the late Jim Hagan.23 Terry Irving and Rowan Cahill’s Radical Sydney also makes insightful and illuminating use of multiple biographical snapshots to capture the changing character and chemistry of the city’s radical subcultures – characters as unique yet united as the Paris communard Lucien Henry, the 1917 labour martyr, Merv Flanagan, and the 1940s Chinese Seamen’s Union activist, Fred Wong.24 Arguably, though, the most thoroughgoing applications to date of integrated collective biographical method are to be found in the studies of radical republican, Fabian, socialist, syndicalist and communist movements by authors such as Verity Burgmann, Bruce Scates, Stuart Macintyre, Joy Damousi and Race Mathews.25 In each case the analysis is enriched with biographical information highlighting both the importance of the individual and the centrality of interpersonal networks and relationships (familial, cultural, intellectual, emotional and physical) to the movement being examined.
Yet what is largely absent from this burgeoning literature is open reflection on the worth of biographical method itself. It is only relatively very recently that Australian labour historians have begun to discuss explicitly the ways in which individual biography can assist us to understand better both the complex interconnections between the individual subject and their milieu. Peter Love’s doctoral study of federal Labor parliamentarian Frank Anstey draws explicitly on psycho-biographical techniques to account for Anstey’s struggle for meaning in his final years.26 Harry Knowles’ work on left-wing scribes H. E. Boote and Arthur Rae demonstrates how biographical gaze can sharpen our understanding of the nature of leadership, politics and ideological conflict and accommodation within a major right-dominated union, the Australian Workers’ Union.27 Mark Hearn’s studies of labour figures great and small, from Labor luminaries like J. C. Watson to intellectuals like Lloyd Ross, feminist unionist Rose Summerfield and socialist militant and mystic John Dwyer,28 remind us that labour identities, and how they are formed and transformed, can be both immensely fragile and powerfully transformative. But these theoretically informed and informing studies remain the exception rather than the rule. For the most part, the craft of Australian labour biography remains atheoretical and unreflective. One could almost be forgiven for thinking that those involved have taken to heart Benjamin Disraeli’s advice to ‘Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory’.29
Clearly, the Register, as an essentially empirical exercise, cannot pretend to emulate monographic and journal studies in terms of interpretive sophistication and depth. However, in its application of collective biographical technique, we see it as occupying a parallel space, both in methodological and epistemological terms. The distinction between the individual and the social is indeed a fiction of neo-classical economics; however, the individual is also a window onto the social, and we believe that the Register’s 2,000-plus entries do let some new light shine in. A further hope, as practitioners of historical collective biography, is that by being overtly reflective about the method’s challenges and potential, we can encourage other labour historians who take up the biographer’s tools of trade to do the same.
Collective Biographies of National Labour Movements
The idea of an Australian collective biographical project of this type was first mooted in print as far back as 1962, when ASSLH co-founder Robin Gollan wrote of plans for an ‘Australian Dictionary of Labour Movement Biography’.30 In all probability, the main fillips for the idea at that juncture were the consolidation in that year of the nation’s premier collective biographical project, the Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB), under the editorship of Douglas Pike, and the formation of the society in 1961 by Gollan and others.
The ADB is, of course, the nation’s premier biographical project and one to which we naturally defer. The eighteen volumes of the ADB which have been published to date31 furnish a wealth of biographical information on key Australian labour personalities, made all the more accessible recently by its publication on-line. Depending on definition, the eighteen volumes carry entries on some eight hundred labour movement personalities. The general index for Volumes 1 to 12, which cover the period 1788 to 193932, lists 146 names (9 females and 136 males) under the occupational category ‘trade unionist’. In the six ADB volumes covering the period 1891-1939 – the formative years of the modern labour movement - the number of entries on labour activists, broadly defined, is of the order of 330, or 8 per cent of the total number of entries in the series. For the most part, these people comprise the institutional pantheon of organised labour: long-serving union officials, parliamentarians, prime ministers, the occasional socialist militant and loveable ratbag, as well as a small but growing contingent of women labour activists.
Very early on, and after considerable agonising, we made an in-principle decision to exclude from the Register those individuals who were already the subject of a published entry in the ADB. To be sure, we have included cross- references to ADB entries but our aim has been to dig a little more deeply for worthy candidates, especially those who remained outside the parliamentary sphere. The brief, in short, is to synthesise, supplement and extend this existing body of published information. Our hope has always been that the Register would both complement the ADB and serve as an information channel to it. The project, we are pleased to report, has always enjoyed a cordial and cooperative working relationship with the staff of the ADB and it is also pleasing to note that our own database has proved useful in the compilation of the ‘missing persons’ Supplement volume, published in 2005.
We have not, however, sought to avoid ADB territory altogether, for projects of this magnitude can never be entirely free of omission or error. The ADB’s founders certainly broke with the policy of its older counterpart, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, of including only the great and famous. However, labour personalities, especially those of a left-militant persuasion and women activists, are very scarce in ADB volumes produced prior to the 1970s. A clue as to why this might have been so is to be found in the papers of the conservative journalist and historian and ADB Editorial Board member Malcolm Ellis. In 1961 it was proposed that the northern coalfields unionist and labour historian Jim Comerford should join the Newcastle working party of the ADB. Working party member Professor J. J. Auchmuty of Newcastle University, who shared Ellis’ aversion to the labour cause, was unimpressed and reported that ‘as Mr Comerford takes no part in the community’s affairs beyond the Miners’ Federation, his addition might create some difficulties of inclusion and exclusion among the Sub-Committee’.33 There are certainly hundreds of labour figures large and small in the ADB-sponsored Biographical Register 1788-1939, compiled by Gibbney and Smith and published in 1987,34 but these are not fully fleshed- out entries and wherever possible we have sought to build on this material. In some cases, we have also felt it necessary to include updated or corrective entries on ADB worthies - not many, but a few, including V. G. Childe, and Tom Mann, to name but two. Our research has also alerted us to significant oversights and silences in some ADB entries. For instance, the ADB entries on writers Dulcie Deamer and George Farwell ignore their labour connections altogether, as does that on footballer Frank (‘Chunky’) Burge. We have made every effort to right such wrongs.
In global terms, the Register is not the first of its kind. There are comparable projects completed or underway, in Britain, France, the Netherlands, the United States and elsewhere. Like the Register, these are all collective historical biographies of labour movements and activists at the national scale. Unlike the Register, the entries in each case are presented in a full prose ‘dictionary’ format, much the same as that employed by the ADB, and typically running to several thousand words.
The British Dictionary of Labour Biography35 is an ongoing, multi-authorial, multi-volume project which had its origins in biographical notes compiled by G. D. H. Cole. Inaugurated in the 1960s at the University of Hull, the project became closely associated with the British Society for the Study of Labour History (est.1958). The first volume appeared in 1971, with the first ten volumes being edited by John Saville and Joyce Bellamy at the University of Hull; and the most recent three by combinations of Keith Gildart, David Howell and Neville Kirk. The goal has been to ‘include everyone who has made a contribution, however modest, to any labour organisation or movement, provided certain basic details can be established’, with the majority of figures being selected ‘by their membership of a trade union, co-operative organization, working-class party or movement’.36
The initial plan was to produce a single large volume in a Who’s Who format, but as work progressed the editors came to the view that a multi-volume dictionary- style approach was warranted. Each volume of the Dictionary is in a self- contained A-Z format and includes entries on figures from a range of periods back to the 1790s, political affiliations and occupational groups. Many volumes also incorporate one or more thematic concentrations, including essays on particular themes. Early volumes tended to be dominated by miners and co- operators, and the new editors are endeavouring to extend the scope to cover hitherto neglected areas, including railway unionism, women activists, activists of non-English background, especially those from Northern Ireland and North Wales, and figures associated with the Independent Labour Party post-World War I.37 Each volume includes a subject index, and the whole series is integrated, albeit rather loosely, by means of a consolidated name index. That the British Dictionary survived the rigours of Thatcherism is due in no small measure to the tireless devotion of the legendary socialist economic and social historian, John Saville (1916-2009). As that other doyen of British socialist historical scholarship, Eric Hobsbawm, observed on Saville’s death in 2009, the Dictionary ‘will almost certainly remain as his most lasting monument’.38
A companion project, the Communist Party of Great Britain Biographical Project, initiated in 1999 and based at the University of Manchester, set itself the ambitious task of compiling a detailed electronic database on all known members of the party from its formation in 1921 until its demise in 1991. Described as a ‘prosopographic’ study, the project aimed to compile information not only on each individual’s party membership and positions, but also details of family background and upbringing, social networks, cultural, reading and leisure activities, work history, union involvement and reasons for joining and leaving the party. One of the project’s most promising objectives was to use the biographical data to chart the changing constructions of ‘activist’ and ‘militant’ over the course of the twentieth century.39 The key publication emerging from this project was Kevin Morgan, Gidon Cohen and Andrew Flinn’s Communists and British Society 1920-1991.40
The Dictionnaire Biographique du Mouvement Ouvrier Francais, edited by Jean Maitron and later Claude Pennetier, published by the Institute for Social History, Paris, is another vast multi-volume project; the first of forty-four volumes was published in 1964.41 The project continues under Pennetier’s direction with six of twelve planned volumes published covering the 1940-1968 period.42
The Dutch project, the Biographisch Woordenboek van het Socialisme en de Arbeidersbeweging in Nederland, was initiated in the mid-1980s and is based at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. The project has thus far produced entries on some six hundred men and women activists of the pre- World War II period, all of which can be accessed (in Dutch) via the Institute’s website43 and most of which incorporate a photographic image of the individual concerned.
The closest approximation for labour in the United States is Gary Fink’s Biographical Dictionary of American Labor.44 First published in 1974, the second expanded edition, published in 1984, contains full prose entries on some 750 ‘men and women who have had a significant impact on the American labor movement’. While twentieth-century white male trade union leaders predominate, the line-up also includes radicals, intellectuals, labour publicists, academics and women activists, although Fink concedes that his attempts to expand the coverage of nineteenth-century leaders and activists of colour have been less successful. The text also includes an exhaustive statistical analysis of historical changes in key institutional, personal and sociopolitical characteristics of the individuals represented, using 1900, 1925, 1946 and 1976 as benchmark years.45 Although somewhat artificial, this analysis does at least serve to highlight the potential value of collection biography as a means of identifying changing contours in the nature of labour movement leadership, including birthplace, social/class background, education, marital and family circumstances, occupation, mobility and residency, age on taking office, duration of tenure, and activities and involvements beyond unions. By far the most credible and illuminating findings here are those highlighting the sharp and persistent contrast between the circumstances of male and female labour figures on almost all counts - from marital status, age and occupation to extra-union activities.
What sets Fink’s Dictionary apart from its European counterparts is that it is openly reflective about the nature and worth of collective biographical method in understanding the social basis and changing nature of labour leadership and activism. Given that the British Dictionary has now completed its fourth decade of publication, it is remarkable that, apart from remarks about selection issues, the editors have so far published so little about the nature of their methodology or about the messages and meanings conveyed in aggregate by the entries they have produced. If the biographers of individual labour figures have been disinclined to ruminate publicly on their preferred historical method, those using the techniques of collective biography have, regrettably, been even more reluctant to do so. Fink died in 2008;? an obituary on the web site of Georgia State University, where he taught for twenty-five years, recorded his dedication to building the field of labour history in general.46 For us, the likes of Gary Fink and John Saville are an enduring source of inspiration.
New Light on Australian Labour Activism
Clearly there are many difficulties endemic to our project, only the least of which is the often incomplete data we have on many of those included. Notwithstanding the problems of maintaining a focus on broader themes and issues, (including the interconnections between individual activists), we believe that the Register demonstrates the worth of collective biography to the study of labour history. One great strength of the Register entries is that they can be read in many different ways. The entries and accompanying statistical database assist us to better explain the often deeply personal well-springs of labour activism, and reveal some significant demographic factors and trends underpinning labour activism: birthplace, parental occupation, residency, family structure and size, religion, education level, marital status, age at first activism, longevity of activism, and the like. The entries also illuminate important institutional and ideological facets of labour activism. Perhaps most excitingly, they also allow us to illuminate some hitherto submerged socio-spatial facets of the collective experience. While we cannot pretend that we have recognised more than a few of these aspects, we wish to make mention of nine specific issues and themes onto which we believe the Register entries, taken together, do cast additional light.
Varieties of activism
Something that becomes immediately obvious is the tremendous variety of activities engaged in by labour activists, including women. Militants and others employed a rich repertoire of propagandising and mobilising strategies, from printed text in dozens of different forms to public speaking in meeting rooms, halls, parks, on street corners, at factory gates and elsewhere. The entries also allow us to chart the shifting relationship between industrial and political activism and also its changing ideological focus. It is by no means made clear by these entries that the ‘Laborist’ model supplants militancy as rapidly or as thoroughly as is sometimes suggested. The Groupers of the 1940s were, after all, industrial militants.
In terms of the general form of activism, 837 individuals, or 42 per cent of the sample, were active in both the industrial (primarily trade union) and party political spheres, a further 41 per cent were industrially but not politically active, and 14 per cent were active in party politics but not in the industrial sphere. Amongst men and women, approximately the same proportion (around 40 per cent) were active industrially but not politically. However, activism exclusively in the party political sphere was proportionally far more prevalent amongst women than men – 41 per cent for women compared to just 9.6 per cent for men.
A related divide here is between paid and unpaid effort. As the entries on the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century activists reveal, the movement’s emergence and consolidation was underpinned by volunteer labour on a mass scale – from keeping minutes and running printing presses to serving as shop delegates and election campaigners. As Melanie Oppenheimer’s research reminds us,47 voluntarism had been a key feature of women’s work activity in Australia and the entries on women activists are suffused with references to unpaid activity, both mainstream and extra-curricular? from Eight-Hour Day and union women’s auxiliaries, early-closing committees, ALP organising committees, cooperative committees, and strike support committees, to friendly societies, temperance bodies, anti-conscription and peace committees, Aboriginal rights and women’s rights groups, community health, schooling, child-care, transport and church bodies, drama groups, housewives’ associations and much more.
The entries also allow us to track the change in the nature of labour activism and leadership brought about by the rise of the paid full-time union and party official in the first half of the twentieth century – at least for males. The rise of full-time paid positions did produce a narrowing of range of the range of reformist activities/institutional involvements by male activists. One important consequence of this process of professionalisation was a transformation of the concept of labour leadership – from that of mobiliser to that of administrator – a point taken up further below.
Generations in revolt: waves of militancy
The entries suggest that recruitment to the ranks of labour activism occurred in generational waves: the 1840s-1860s, 1880s, 1910s, 1930s-1940s, and 1960s. This seems to point to a demographic undercurrent to Australian labour militancy – a sequence of generational radicalisation and revolt ranging from the émigré Chartist influence during the democratic and trade union mobilisations of the 1840s and 1850s (evidenced not only by well-known figures like Charles Jardine Don but also by the likes of Tasmania’s William Caffey)48 to the rank-and-file and peace movement militancy of the 1960s. The cyclical nature of recruitment is also demonstrated in the entries on women, where it is possible to discern definite waves of new activist recruitment during the enfranchisement and Labor women’s organising campaigns of the 1900s, the anti-conscription campaigns of World War I, and the equal-pay campaigns of the 1930s, ‘40s, ‘60s and ‘70s, and the peace movements of the ‘50s and ‘60s. What is especially striking is the emergence and strength of women’s political networks within the labour movement during the era of ‘first wave’ feminism. Particularly significant here were the Labor Women’s Central Organising Committees set up in the first years of Federation and women’s enfranchisement. The entries make it very clear that these bodies were much more than mere auxiliaries - they were important centres of power and influence in their own right for this pioneering generation of women activists, particularly in New South Wales and Western Australia and, to a lesser extent, in Victoria.
Activist life trajectories
The entries tell us a great deal about the life trajectories of male and female activists. They help us to explore where activists came from – socially, politically, culturally, how activist identities were constructed, what sustained activism, when and why it lapsed, and what became of those whose activism waned. The entries reveal a wealth of information about patterns of individual union membership and about the career trajectories of union activists: age when first joined, membership duration, positions held, time in each position, reasons for leaving, and the like. For males, union membership started later but, in line with the dictates of the patriarchal division of paid/unpaid labour, was more continuous than for women. Career progression within unions also became more drawn out as the twentieth century progressed. Again, this is consonant with the professionalisation of union positions.
By the same token, in writing the entries on women activists, we have been struck by just how many of them remained unmarried or, at least, retained their birth name. It seems that, for many labour movement women, marriage was indeed a barrier to their continued participation in the public sphere of labour activism. Perhaps the long-standing official and unofficial bars on married women taking paid jobs in the public service and the banks (and in places like Broken Hill in all areas of paid employment!) had something to do with their relative absence from the ranks of labour activists. Conversely, since the women activists in our sample were far more numerous in service work than in manufacturing, it would appear that the former offered better prospects over the longer term for women being able to sustain their activism. Then again, it may be that married women remained active behind the scenes in all manner of industries but in a way that our research method has led us to overlook.
Intimate unions: the importance of family and kinship
Reading through the entries one cannot help but be struck by the significance of intimate partnerships as a source of, and sustenance for, activism. There are dozens of activist partnerships: Fred and Alicia Katz, Ada and Archibald Turnbull, Arthur and Marcia Reardon, George Burns and Lilian Locke, Elizabeth and William Roth, IWW deportees Jock Wilson and May Ewart, Hetty and Hector Ross, Bill and Clarice McNamara, Jessie and David Johnson, Alice and William Dickson, Henry and Grace Scanlon, Bill and Irene Orr, Sam and Ethel Lewis, Jack and Edna Ryan, Mary and Tom Wright, Ralph and Dorothy Gibson, Eric and Eleanor Dark, Gil and Edna Roper, Vic and Joan Williams? the list goes on. Not all of these relationships were enduring but while they lasted these partnerships proved extremely potent in their own spheres of influence. Then there are the parent-child combinations, particularly on the radical side: Harry and May Hickman, Monty Miller and Annie Westbrook, Percy Laidler and Bertha Walker to name but a few. The Register also documents the rise and impact of activist family dynasties: the Bodkins, the Rosses, the Cogans and O’Neils of Broken Hill, the McNamaras, the Eatocks, the Healys, the Aarons. What we have here is clear indication of the importance of family and kinship in sustaining labour activism across generations.
The power of place
Whatever else it might have been, labour activism was lived locally. The networks of solidarity, the communities of the faithful revealed in the entries were all tied to specific places of residency and work – industrial suburbs, mining towns, construction sites, wharves, workshops, factories, offices. Place played a central role in the formation of activist identity and common cause. As the entries also disclose, a sense of place and class affinity was sometimes sharpened, sometimes tempered by shared social and cultural practices. In reading through the entries on activists from the northern coalfields of New South Wales, one cannot help but be struck by the close nexus between religion - specifically Methodism - and union activism, a point corroborated by Tony Laffin’s research on the political influence of Orange Lodges in the Hunter region.49 In this location, the chapel was as much a cradle of activism as was the pithead. Christian socialism also seems to have had a particularly strong following in the same area. Other entries highlight the importance of sport to male working-class culture and militancy - soccer amongst coalminers; boxing and rugby league amongst wharfies. In other instances, such as that of most white-collar activists, place and group cultural practices seem to have played much less of a role.
A spatially aware reading of the entries also reminds us that the Australian labour movement was anything but homogeneous in composition and experience. Labour mobilisation and waves of militancy occurred at very different times and took on very different forms in different localities. Notwithstanding their shared fate in arduous wage labour, the men who revived unionism on the wharves of Sydney in the 1900s were of a very different cut to those who revived unionism in Broken Hill in the same decade. Those behind the emergence of unionism in Rockhampton in the 1910s and 1920s were different yet again. In the mining sector alone, labour movements emerged much later in some localities than others, and in very different ways – the Hunter in the 1860s, the Illawarra in the 1870s, Broken Hill in the 1880s, Kalgoorlie in the 1890s, Cobar in the 1900s, Mount Isa in the 1940s. Women were far more prominent in some localities than others. The Register entries allow us to map and perhaps explain these significant spatial variations in the timing and nature of labourmobilisation, unionisation and militancy.
Unsettled lives: militants on the move
If place played an important part, so too did labour mobility, both internal and international. The entries reveal some significant patterns of inter-regional migration of worker-activists, often associated with strike activity and subsequent blacklisting and victimisation in the place of origin. In the case of miners and pastoral-sector activists, we have found an intriguing pattern of union transmission. After the pastoral strikes of 1891-94, shearer-activists from Queensland - men like John Boyland, John Dias, William Price, Julian Stuart, and George (‘Mulga’) Taylor - figured prominently in the rise of organised labour in Western Australia. Following the near annihilation of unionism on the Victorian coalfields in 1903, activists like Peter Bowling, Andrew Gray, Syd Bird and Ernest Blanch carried the cause to the New South Wales coalfields, assuming leading parts in the great coal strike of 1909. Some, like John McVicars, subsequently returned to the Victorian fields to help in the revival of the local union. New South Wales activists like George Henderson and Victorian unionists like A. A. Wilson were also prominent in the establishment of unionism at Collie in Western Australia in the 1900s. These inter-regional movements, which appear to have persisted down to the 1960s, highlight the importance of itinerant radicalism in the regional labour mobilisation. AWU shearer-activist Neil Byron’s peripatetic militancy in postwar rural and regional Australian is perhaps one of the last great instances of restless militancy.
International mobility was equally important. Perhaps the most surprising facet of the data on location of activism is the high proportion of activists whose activities were international in scale – with some 330, or 16 per cent, of the whole sample being labour activists abroad either before, during or following their time in Australia. Many of the first three generations of male labour activists (1850s-1910s) served their apprenticeships in activism in England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland. They were part of the global diaspora of union and socialist activists which transmitted labour ideas and organising to the four corners of the white settler world. And this international influence remained strong well into the twentieth century. The Sydney Labor alderman Joseph Carroll had fought for Irish independence in the early 1920s; Port Kembla ironworker Nando Lelli had been radicalised by his experiences in fascist Italy. Some, like Jennie Scott- Griffiths, were socialist birds of passage. Many of the stalwarts of IWWism were habitual travellers both within Australia and abroad – and not always as a matter of free choice! Alf Wilson’s travels between the 1890s and 1918 are a case in point: Victoria, NSW, Alaska, Western Australia, Victoria again, Canada, Alaska, USA, back to Victoria, South Australia. Like many other Wobblies, his activism was virtually placeless. Canadian import, Pat Mackie, of Mount Isa strike fame, is a more recent instance of the type. Theirs was a ‘global citizenship’ of a somewhat different hue to that encountered in contemporary discourse on the wonders of ‘globalisation’!
A small but influential group of Australian activists also emigrated permanently, carrying their activism with them. For some, like Harry Bridges and Alice Henry, departure was permanent? for others, the absence proved to be temporary. After the collapse of the Victorian Coal Miners’ Association in 1903, activists like Robert Semple and Michael Savage emigrated to New Zealand, where they became leading lights of the local labour movement. Socialist Harry Holland was another prominent trans-Tasman export. The Register also reveals a significant degree of return migration, particularly by socialists and writer intellectuals. Following their deportation in 1918, IWW militants Jock Wilson and May Ewart assumed prominent roles in the Communist Party of Great Britain, but subsequently returned to Australia, where their activism continued unabated. Other returnees included socialist writer-intellectuals Bob Ross and Vance Marshall.
A labour intelligentsia?
The entries also shed light on the changing nature of labour intellectualism in Australia. There are certainly many examples of fine home-grown labour intellectuals in the Register: from Bob Ross, Ernie Lane, V. G. Childe (a corrective to the entry in the ADB) W. M. J McNamara and Vance Marshall, to Lloyd and Edgar Ross, Eric Dark, Len Fox, Mona Brand, Jean Devanny, Jack Blake, and Dorothy Hewitt. As the entries reveal, for the most part, these writer and thinkers operated outside of the academy, drawing mainly on close-knit circles of friends and fellow-travellers for intellectual sustenance and stimulation. Many also relied on labour journalism to keep body and soul together. Some exercised considerable influence within the wider labour movement, both as scribes and activists. Whether or not they can be said to have amounted to an antipodean labour intelligentsia must remain a moot point. As various people have remarked, one of the curiosities of Australian political life has been its failure to produce a substantial socialist or Marxist theoretician. Certainly, Australian labour lost some of its best and brightest minds (for example, V. G. Childe and Vance Marshall) to voluntary exile in Britain and elsewhere. Examining the entry fine print, we also get the impression that Australian workers did not embrace the tradition of autodidactism which seems to have been such a defining feature of British working-class culture down to the mid-twentieth century. The Mechanics Institutes, union debating clubs, socialist Sunday Schools, Plebs Leagues, WEA and university Labor Clubs were certainly patronised by many of our activists, but the commitment tended to be relatively short-lived rather than lifelong. Yet, as we have noted, a substantial minority of our activists were writers, pamphleteers and publicists. These were not people with a sun-induced aversion to the printed word or abstract thought!
Almost 14 per cent of our sample were scribes of one sort or another – perhaps the most meaningful proxy of a working-class intelligentsia – and solid evidence against the suggestion that the antipodean labour movement was anti-intellectual or philistine in its pragmatism. So what does our sample suggest about the existence or otherwise of an Australian labour movement intelligentsia? We would invite others to draw their own conclusions here.
Leadership and legitimacy
Business management discourse is awash with prescriptive models of leadership effectiveness – from the ‘charismatic’ to the ‘authentic’? from the trait-based to the situational. In managerialist conceptions of leadership, leadership is what a leader ‘does’ to subordinates, and authoritarian leadership propensities are definitely on display in some of these entries (for example, Broken Hill’s ‘uncrowned king’, Paddy O’Neil; Third Period CPA party bosses; AWU power brokers). What these entries also reveal, though, is the shifting nature of organisational leadership within the wider labour movement in the period to c.1900, as the organisational forms moved from direct participative democracy and unpaid officialdom to representative democracy and paid officialdom. In the process, union and party political leadership became more formalistic, bureaucratic and, ultimately, credential-driven. Increasingly, knowledge of arbitral and electoral processes, and the power resources associated with each, supplanted rank-and-file approval as the primary form of labour movement authority and legitimacy.
Conclusion: The Register as a living biographical resource
The men and women whose lives are documented in the Register - many for the first time - deserve to be remembered for their contribution to Australian social, political, industrial and cultural development. By the same token, the Register is not intended as a mere celebratory exercise. By drawing together for the first time cross-referenced information on hundreds of individuals at the centre of the often bitter conflict within the labour movement, the Register, we hope, will facilitate a deeper understanding of the diversity and division which has characterised the history of Australian labour. The on-line entries and statistical database will allow researchers and other users to make entry cross-correlations based on occupation, industry, skill, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, region, organisation membership, family background, place of origin, and the like. In this way, we believe that the Register will be of considerable value both to researchers and others seeking information on particular individuals and scholars undertaking thematic studies in labour and social history, including those employing quantitative and statistical methods. It is our hope that the project will also assist the burgeoning interest in Australian labour biography both empirically and conceptually. If it serves to make practitioners of labour biography more openly reflective about their methods, and to engage in constructive discussion and debate about the craft, the exercise will have been all the more worthwhile.50 Our most fervent hope, though, is that the Register’s publication will mark a new beginning rather than an end. Assisted by the manner of its publication on line, we like to think of it as a living resource, there to be read and re-read, supplemented, corrected, and criticised by succeeding generations of Australian labour historians. In this sense, like the work of the people whose lives it acknowledges, the Register may become a truly collective cause uniting successive generations. That challenge now awaits us all.
1 M. Hearn, M. and H. Knowles, ‘Representative Lives? Biography and Labour History’, Labour History, no.100 (May 2011), 127-144.
2 I. Wyner, With Banner Unfurled. The early years of the Ship Painters and Dockers Union (Sydney: Hale and Iremonger, 1983).
3 Ibid., 115.
4 H. McQueen ‘An Exhibition of Uncommon Snobbery’, ABC Radio 24 Hours, September 1992, 65.
5 P Cochrane, Simpson and the Donkey. The Making of a Legend (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1992).
6 R. Cahill, `Alec Campbell, the Last Anzac, a Unionist’, Workers Online, 137 (May 2002).
7 The statistical database captures individual-level categorical information for 2,200 activists on the following activist characteristics: name, gender, place of birth, religion, chief period of activism, colony/State/s of activism, locality of activism (capital city to rural), industry/s of activism, focus of activism (industrial, party political, literary), political party membership (socialist/communist, Labor).
8 A. Partington, (ed.), Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, fourth edn. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 180, 276.
9 M. Hearn, M. and H. Knowles, ‘Struggling for Recognition: Reading the Individual in Labour History’, Labour History, no.87 (November 2004), 1-10; Salvatore, N., ‘Biography and Social History: An Intimate Relationship’, ibid., 187-191.
10 E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (London: Victor Gollancz, 1963).
11 L. F. Fitzhardinge, That Fiery Particle, 1862-1914. A Political Biography of William Morris Hughes. Vol. 1 (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1964)? L. F. Fitzhardinge, The Little Digger, 1914-1952. William Morris Hughes. A Political Biography. Vol. 2 (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1979)? J. Robertson, J.H. Scullin. A Political Biography (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 1974); D. J. Murphy, T.J. Ryan, A Political Biography (Brisbane: University of Queensland Press, 1975); B. Mansfield,, Australian Democrat. The Career of Edward William O’Sullivan 1846-1910 (Sydney: Sydney University Press, 1965); P. J. O’Farrell, Harry Holland, Militant Socialist (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1964); B. Nairn, The ‘Big Fella’. Jack Lang and the Australian Labor Party 1891-1949 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1986).
12 D. Day, John Curtin: A Life (Melbourne: Harper Collins, 1999);? Day, D., Chifley (Melbourne: Harper Collins, 2001); D. Day, Andrew Fisher: Prime Minister of Australia (Sydney, Harper Collins, 2008); P. Crockett, Evatt: A Life (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1993); K. Buckley, B. Dale, and W. Reynolds, Doc Evatt (Melbourne: Longman Cheshire, 1994)? R. Fitzgerald., Fred Paterson. The People’s Champion (Brisbane: University of Queensland Press, 1997); R. Fitzgerald, “Red Ted”. The Life of E.G. Theodore (Brisbane: University of Queensland Press, 1994); R. McMullin, So Monstrous a Travesty. Chis Watson and the World’s First National Labour Government (Melbourne: Scribe, 2004)? J. Hocking, Lionel Murphy. A political biography (Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1997); J. Hocking, Gough Whitlam: A Moment in History, The Biography, Vol. 1 (Melbourne: Miegunyah Press, 2008)? C. Cunneen, William John McKell. Boilermaker, Premier, Governor-general (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2000).
13 Labour History, no.2 (May 1962), 3.
14 S. Macintyre, Militant. The Life and Times of Paddy Troy (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1984)? S. Short, Laurie Short. A Political Life (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1992); S. Holt, A Veritable Dynamo. Lloyd Ross and Australian Labour 1901-1987 (Brisbane: University of Queensland Press, 1996).
15 P. Cook, P., Red Barrister. A Biography of Ted Laurie (Melbourne: La Trobe University Press, 1994)? W. H. Wilde, Courage A Grace. A Biography of Dame Mary Gilmore (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1988); P. Young, Proud to be a Rebel. The Life and Times of Emma Miller (Brisbane: University of Queensland Press, 1991)? J. M. Bomford, That Dangerous and Persuasive Woman (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1993)? C. Ferrier, Jean Devanny. Romantic Revolutionary (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1999); B. Oliver, Jean Beadle: A Life of Labor Activism (Perth: UWA Press, 2008); H. Greenland, Red Hot. The Life and Times of Nick Origlass (Sydney: Wellington Lane Press, 1998).
16 P. Adams, The Best Hated Man in Australia: The Life and Death of Percy Brookfield 1875-1921 (Sydney: Puncher and Wattmann, 2010).
17 Hearn & Knowles, ‘Representative Lives? Biography and Labour History’.
18 E. Fry, (ed.): Rebels and Radicals (Sydney: George Allen & Unwin, 1983).
19 M. Dodkin, Brothers. Eight Leaders of the Labor Council of New South Wales (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2001); G. Patmore, (ed.), Laying the Foundations of Industrial Justice. The Presidents of the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW 1902-1998 (Sydney: Federation Press, 2003).
20 R. McMullin, The Light on the Hill. The Australian Labor Party 1891-1991 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991).
21 B. Oliver, Unity is Strength: A History of the Australian Labor Party and the Trades and Labor Council in Western Australia, 1899-1999 (Perth: Australian Public Intellectual Network, 2003).
22 M. Hearn and H. Knowles, H., One Big Union. A History of the Australian Workers Union 1886-1994 (Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1996).
23 M. Hogan, Local Labor. A History of the Labor Party in Glebe 1891-2003 (Sydney: Federation Press, 2004); J. Hagan, (ed.), People and Politics in Regional New South Wales, vol.1 1956 to the 1950s, vol.2 1950s to 2006 (Sydney: Federation Press, 2006).
24 T. Irving, and R. Cahill, Radical Sydney. Places, Portraits and Unruly Episodes (Sydney: UNSW Press, 2010).
25 V. Burgmann, ‘In Our Time’. Socialism and the Rise of Labor 1885-1905 (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1985); V. Burgmann, Revolutionary Industrial Unionism. The Industrial Workers of the World (Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1995)? B. Scates, A New Australia. Citizenship, Radicalism and the First Republic (Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1997)? S. Macintyre,The Reds. The Communist Party of Australia from Origins to Illegality (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1998); R. Mathews, Australia’s First Fabians. Middle-class Radicals, Labour Activists and the Early Labour Movement (Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1993).
26 P. Love, ‘Frank Anstey From Heroic Persons to Embattled Identity’, Labour History, no..87 (November 2004), 123-146;
27 H. Knowles,‘Arthur Rae: a “Napoleon in Exile”, Labour History, vol.87 (November 2004), 103-122; H. Knowles, ‘Trade Union Leadership: Biography and the Role of Historical Context’, Leadership, vol.3, no.2 (May, 2007), 191-209.
28 Hearn, M., ‘Rose Summerfield’s Gospel of Discontent: A Narrative of a Radical Identity in late Nineteenth Century Australia’, Labour History, vol.87 (November 2004), 65-82? Hearn, M. ‘Cultivating an Australian Sentiment: John Christian Watson’s Narrative of White Nationalism’, National Identities, vol.9, no.4, 2007, 351-368.
29 A. Partington. (ed.), Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 248.
30 Labour History, no.1 (January 1962), 90.
31 Vols. 1-17 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1966-2007), plus Supplement 1580-1980, 2005.
32 H. Kent, (ed.): Australian Dictionary of Biography. Index: Volumes 1 to 12 1788-1939 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1991).
33 Editorial Board Minutes, Australian Dictionary of Biography, 9 November 1961, M.H. Ellis papers, ML MSS K21883.
34 H. J. Gibbney. & A. G. Smith, (eds.), A Biographical Register 1788-1939, Notes from the name index of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2 vols. (Canberra: Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1987).
35 J. Bellamy, & J. Saville, (eds.), Dictionary of Labour Biography, 10 vols. (London: Macmillan, 1972-2000). The most recent volume is K. Gildart, and D. Howell (eds.), Dictionary of Labour Biography, vol. XIII (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).
36 J. Saville, ‘Introduction: Un Peu d’Histoire’, in Bellamy. J. & Saville, J. (eds.), Dictonary of Labour Biography, vol.10 (London: Macmillan, 2000), ix.
37 ‘History of the Dictionary of Labour Biography. Project aims and objectives’, http://www.york.ac.uk/res/dlb/objectives.htm.
38 E. Hobsbawm, ‘John Saville, Marxist Historian Renowned for His Great Work, the Dictionary of Labour Biography’, The Guardian, 16 June 2009.
39 K. Morgan, J. McIllroy, A. Campbell, A. Flinn and G. Cohen, ‘The CPGB Biographical Project:
and introduction’, paper for ‘People of a Special Mould?’, conference, University of Manchester, 6-8 April 2001.
40 K. Morgan, G. Cohen and A. Flinn, Communists and British Society 1920-1991 (London: Rivers Oram, 2007).
41 J. Maitron (ed.), Dictionnaire Biographique du Mouvement Ouvrier Francais , 44 vols. to date (Paris: Paris Institut d’Histoire Sociale, 1964-97).
42 See for instance, Claude Pennetier (ed), Dictionnaire biographique : mouvement ouvrier, mouvement mai 1968 /, Editions de l’Atelier, Paris, c2006- c2009.
44 G. Fink, Biographical Dictionary of American Labor, 2nd ed., (Westport, Conn., Greenwood Publishing, 1984).
45 Ibid., 1-79.
47 M. Oppenheimer, Volunteering: Why we can’t survive without it (Sydney: UNSW Press, 2008);
M. Oppenheimer & J. Davis-Smith, ‘The Labour Movement and Voluntary Action in the UK and Australia: A Comparative Perspective’, Labour History, no. 88 (May 2005), 105-120.
48 M. Gregory, ‘Wiliam Caffay in Tasmania’, Tasmanian Historical Research Association, Papers and Proceedings, vol.58, no.1 (April 2011), 61-77;? M. Chase, Chartism. A New History (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007), 303-11.
49 T. Laffin, How Orange Was My Valley? Protestant Sectarianism and the Loyal Orange Lodges of Australia’s Hunter Valley, 1869-1959 (Singleton, NSW: Toiler Editions, 2009).
50 For an exemplar of reflective insight in the genre, see Hearn & Knowles, ‘Struggling for