Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

Australian Labour History: Contexts, Trends and Influences

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (2011), 100, (1), 1–18.

Abstract

From their inception, the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History and itsBulletin(laterLabour History) represented a claim to recognition for labour history within Australian academia. At the same time, they expressed the fellowship of the activist and scholar. This article will suggest that labour history has been shaped by the evolving professional imperatives associated with university-based research, publication and teaching of Australian history in an increasingly globalised academic culture. Yet labour history has also continued to derive distinctiveness from a longer history of identification with the labour movement’s struggle for social justice; its roots in what I call ‘activist popular history’, ‘critical objective history’ and ‘academic history’; and a healthy scepticism concerning the illusion of disinterested scholarship.

Access Token
£25.00
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Endnotes

1.T. Irving andS. Scalmer, ‘Labour historians as labour intellectuals: Generations and crises’, inDavid Palmer,Ross Shanahan andMartin Shanahan(eds), Australian Labour History Reconsidered,Australian Humanities Press,, 1999, pp.234-39. Google Scholar

2.J. Merritt, ‘R.A. Gollan, E.C. Fry, and the Canberra years of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History’, Labour History, no.94, May2008, pp.17, 20. Google Scholar

3.J. Merritt, ‘Labour history’, inG. Osborne andW.F. Mandle, New History: Studying Australia Today,George Allen & Unwin,, 1982, pp.113-41. Google Scholar

4.Irving andScalmer, ‘Labour historians as labour intellectuals’, pp.237-38;Verity Burgmann, ‘The revival of labour history’, pp.240-44, inPalmeret al. (eds), Australian Labour History Reconsidered. Google Scholar

5.J. Norton(ed), The History of Capital and Labour in All Lands and Ages: Their Past Condition, Present Relations, and Outlook for the Future,Oceanic Publishing Company,, 1888. Google Scholar

6.Ibid., p.viii. Google Scholar

7.Irving andScalmer, ‘Labour historians as labour intellectuals’, inPalmeret al. (eds), Australian Labour History Reconsidered, p.238. Google Scholar

8.W.G. Spence, Australia’s Awakening: Thirty Years in the Life of an Australian Agitator,Workers Trustees,, 1909, p.12. Google Scholar

9.B. Fitzpatrick, A Short History of the Australian Labor Movement,Rawson’s Bookshop,, 1944[1940], p.11. Google Scholar

10.J. Harris, The Bitter Fight: A Pictorial History of the Australian Labor Movement,University of Queensland Press,, 1970. Google Scholar

11.S. Scalmer, The Little History of Australian Unionism,The Vulgar Press,, 2006. Google Scholar

12.See, for example,E.C. Fry, ‘The Labour History Society (ASSLH): A memoir of its first twenty years’, Labour History, no77, 1999, pp.85-88. Google Scholar

13.B. Gollan toB. Smith, 4March1963, ASSLH Collection, B. Smith Correspondence, Noel Butlin Archives Centre, Australian National University, P132/17. Google Scholar

14.Irving andScalmer, ‘Labour historians as labour intellectuals’, inPalmeret al. (eds), Australian Labour History Reconsidered. Google Scholar

15.Merritt, ‘R.A. Gollan, E.C. Fry, and the Canberra Years’, p.20. Google Scholar

16.J. Faulkner andS. Macintyre(eds), True Believers: The Story of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party,Allen & Unwin,, 2001. Google Scholar

17.J.R. Nethercote, (ed.), Liberalism and the Australian Federation,Federation Press,, 2001. Google Scholar

18. Workers Online: The Official Organ of Labornet, NSW Trades and Labour Council, 1999-2005,http://workers.labor.net.au/ Google Scholar

19. Reason in Revolt: Source Documents of Australian Radicalism,University of Melbourne and Monash University,http://www.reasoninrevolt.net.au/ Google Scholar

20. Labor History Online,Chifley Research Centre,,http://www.laborhistory.org.au/ Google Scholar

21.T. Coghlan, Labour and Industry in Australia, 4vols,Oxford University Press,, 1918. Google Scholar

22.T.R. Roydhouse andH.J. Taperell, The Labour Party in New South Wales: A History of its Formation and Legislative Career Together with Biographies of the Members, and the Complete Text of the Trade Disputes Conciliation and Arbitration Act, 1892,Edwards, Dunlop,, 1892;A. Métin, Socialism Without Doctrine, transR. Ward,Alternative Publishing Co-operative,, 1977[1901];W.P. Reeves, State Experiments in Australia and New Zealand, 2vols,George Allen & Unwin,, 1902;V.S. Clark, The Labour Movement in Australasia: A Study in Social-Democracy,Henny Holt & Co.,, 1906. Google Scholar

23.E.C. Fry in‘Symposium: What is labour history?’, Labour History, no.12, May1967, p.64;‘Labour and industry in Australia’, Historical Studies, vol.14, no.55, October1970, pp.430-39; The Condition of the Urban Wage-Earning Class in Australia in the 1880s, PhD Thesis,Australian National University, 1956. But see alsoF. Farrell, ‘Labour history in Australia’, International Labor and Working Class History, no.21, Spring1982, pp.1-17, esp. pp.2-8. Google Scholar

24.S. Holton, ‘T.A. Coghlan’s Labour and Industry in Australia: An enigma in Australian historiography’, Historical Studies, vol.22, no.88, April1987, pp.336-51. Google Scholar

25.B. Maddison, ‘“The Day of the Just Reasoner”: T.A. Coghlan and the labour public sphere in late nineteenth century Australia’, Labour History, no.77, November1999, pp.11-26. Google Scholar

26.J.T. Sutcliffe, A History of Trade Unionism in Australia,Macmillan & Co.,, 1921. Google Scholar

27.W. Denning, Caucus Crisis: The Rise and Fall of the Scullin Government,Hale & Iremonger,, 1982[1937], p.19. Google Scholar

28.I.R. Hancock, ‘Denning, Warren Edwin (1906-1975)’, inJ. Ritchie(ed.), Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol.13,Melbourne University Press,, 1993, pp.615-16. Google Scholar

29.J. Dickenson, ‘Journalists writing Australian political history’, Australian Journal of Politics and History, vol.56, no.1, March2010, pp.105-19. Google Scholar

30.S. Garton, ‘What have we done? Labour history, social history, cultural history’, inT. Irving(ed.), Challenges to Labour History,University of New South Wales Press,, 1994, p.43. Google Scholar

31.SeeS. Macintyre, ‘Introduction’, pp.1-8;R. Gollan, ‘How it began’, pp.9-14; andS. Cornish, ‘Noel Butlin, economic history and the Archives of Business and Labour’, pp.15-29, inBarry Howarth andEwan Maidment, Light from the Tunnel: Collecting the Archives of Australian Business and Labour at the Australian National University 1953-2003,Friends of the Noel Butlin Archives Centre,, 2004. Google Scholar

32.S. Ward, Australia and the British Embrace: The Demise of the Imperial Ideal,Melbourne University Press,, 2001;D. Goldsworthy, Losing the Blanket: Australia and the End of Britain’s Empire,Melbourne University Press,, 2002. Google Scholar

33.E.C. Fry, ‘The writing of labour history in Australia’, inFry(ed.), Common Cause: Essays in Australian and New Zealand Labour History,Allen & Unwin/Port Nicholson Press,, 1986, p.148. Google Scholar

34.R.A. Gollan, ‘Labour history’, Bulletin of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, no.1, January1962, p.3. Google Scholar

35.P. Coleman, ‘Introduction: The new Australia’, inP. Coleman(ed.), Australian Civilization,F.W. Cheshire,, 1962, p.6. Google Scholar

36.Ibid., p.4. Google Scholar

37.J. McIlroy, ‘The Society for the Study of Labour History, 1956-1985: Its origins and its heyday’, Labour History Review, vol.75, Supplement 1, April2010, p.22. Google Scholar

38.R. Gollan, Radical and Working Class Politics: A Study of Eastern Australia, 1850-1910,Melbourne University Press,, 1960. Google Scholar

39.I. Turner, Industrial Labour and Politics: The Dynamics of the Labour Movement in Eastern Australia, 1900-1921,Australian National University,, 1965. Google Scholar

40.L.F. Crisp, The Australian Federal Labour Party, 1901-1951,Longmans,, 1955. Google Scholar

41.M. Kiddle, Men of Yesterday: A Social History of the Western District of Victoria 1834-1890,Melbourne University Press,, 1961. Google Scholar

42.G. Bolton, A Thousand Miles Away: A History of North Queensland to 1920,Jacaranda Press in association with the Australian National University,, 1963. Google Scholar

43.G. Blainey, The Rush that Never Ended: A History of Australian Mining,Melbourne University Press,, 1963. Google Scholar

44.N. Butlin, Investment in Australian Economic Development, 1861-1900,Cambridge University Press,, 1964. Google Scholar

45.G. Serle, The Golden Age: A History of the Colony of Victoria, 1851-1861,Melbourne University Press,, 1963. Google Scholar

46.C. Fox, ‘My lord the workingman?’, inD. Gare,G. Bolton,S. Macintyre andT. Stannage(eds), The Fuss that Never Ended: The Life and Work of Geoffrey Blainey,Melbourne University Press,, 2003, pp.136-47. Google Scholar

47.R. Ward, The Australian Legend,Oxford University Press,, 1958. Google Scholar

48.G.M. Trevelyan, English Social History: A Survey of Six Centuries, Chaucer to Queen Victoria,Longmans, Green and Co.,, 1944, p.vii. Google Scholar

49.See, for example,Merritt, ‘Labour history’, pp.127-41andG. Patmore, Australian Labour History,Longman Cheshire,, 1991, pp.8-13. Google Scholar

50.S. Macintyre, ‘Radical history and bourgeois hegemony’, Intervention, no.2, October1972, pp.47-73. Google Scholar

51.F. Bongiorno, ‘Two radical legends: Russel Ward, Humphrey McQueen and the new left challenge in Australian historiography’, Journal of Australian Colonial History, vol.10, no.2, 2008, pp.201-22. Google Scholar

52.H. McQueen, A New Britannia: An Argument Concerning the Social Origins of Australian Radicalism and Nationalism,Penguin Books,, 1970. Google Scholar

53.H. McQueen, A New Britannia: An Argument Concerning the Social Origins of Australian Radicalism and Nationalism, 4thedition,University of Queensland Press,, 2004, p.x. Google Scholar

54.J. Hagan, The History of the A.C.T.U.,Longman Cheshire,, 1981. Google Scholar

55.T. Sheridan, Mindful Militants: The Amalgamated Engineering Union in Australia, 1920-1972,Cambridge University Press,, 1975. Google Scholar

56. Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition,http://adbonline.anu.edu.au/adbonline.htm Google Scholar

57.B. Kingston, My Wife, My Daughter, and Poor Mary Ann: Women and Work in Australia,Thomas Nelson,, 1975;E. Ryan andA. Conlon, Gentle Invaders: Australian Women at Work 1788-1974,Thomas Nelson,, 1975. Google Scholar

58.Fry,‘The Labour History Society’, p.91. Google Scholar

59.A.B. Facey, A Fortunate Life,Fremantle Arts Centre Press,, 1981. Google Scholar

60.J. Rickard, Class and Politics: New South Wales, Victoria and the Early Commonwealth, 1890-1910,Australian National University Press,, 1976. Google Scholar

61.R.W. Connell andT.H. Irving, Class Structure in Australian History: Documents, Narrative and Argument,Longman Cheshire,, 1980. Google Scholar

62.J. McCalman, Struggletown: Public and Private Life in Richmond, 1900-1965,Melbourne University Press,, 1984. Google Scholar

63.J. Merritt, The Making of the AWU,Oxford University Press,, 1986. Google Scholar

64.V. Burgmann, ‘The strange death of labour history’, inBede Nairn and Labor History(Labor History Essays, vol.3),Pluto Press in association with the NSW Branch of the ALP,, 1991, pp.72, 74, 76. Google Scholar

65.Ibid., p.70. Google Scholar

66.Merritt, ‘Labour history’, p.137and‘Editorial’, Labour History, no.40, May1981, pp.v-vi. Google Scholar

67.R. Hay, ‘Social history’inG. Davison,J. Hirst andS. Macintyre, (eds), The Oxford Companion to Australian History,Oxford University Press,, 1998, p.590. Google Scholar

68.R. Frances, The Politics of Work: Gender and Labour in Victoria 1880-1939,Cambridge University Press,, 1993. Google Scholar

69.A. McGrath, Born in the Cattle: Aborigines in Cattle Country,Allen & Unwin,, 1987;D. May, Aboriginal Labour and the Cattle Industry: Queensland from White Settlement to the Present,Cambridge University Press,, 1994. Google Scholar

70.Garry Wotherspoon, ‘The “greatest menace facing Australia”: Homosexuality and the state in NSW during the Cold War’, Labour History, no.56, May1989, pp.15-28;Graham Willett, ‘“Proud and Employed”: The Gay and Lesbian Movement and the Victorian Teachers’ Unions in the 1970s’, Labour History, no.76, May1999, pp.78-94. Google Scholar

71.M. Burgmann andV. Burgmann, Green Bans, Red Union: Environmental Activism and the New South Wales Builders Labourers’ Federation,UNSW Press,, 1998. Google Scholar

72.R. Markey, The Making of the Labor Party in New South Wales 1880-1900,UNSW Press,, 1988. Google Scholar

73.J. Hagan andK. Turner, A History of the Labor Party in New South Wales 1891-1991,Longman Cheshire,, 1991. Google Scholar

74.R. McMullin, The Light on the Hill: The Australian Labor Party 1891-1991,Oxford University Press,, 1991;G. Freudenberg, Cause for Power: The Official History of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labor Party,Pluto Press in association with the NSW Branch of the ALP,, 1991. Google Scholar

75.For a Canadian contribution, seeB.D. Palmer, ‘Critical theory, historical materialism and the ostensible end of Marxism: The poverty of theory revisited’, International Review of Social History, vol.38, no.2, 1993, pp.133-62. Google Scholar

76.See, for example, the exchanges inSocial History:D. Mayfield andS. Thorne, ‘Social history and its discontents: Gareth Stedman Jones and the politics of language’, Social History, vol.17, no.2, May1992, pp.165-88;J. Lawrence andM. Taylor, ‘“The poverty of protest”: Gareth Stedman Jones and the politics of language: A reply’, Social History, vol.18, no.1, January1993, pp.1-15;P. Joyce, ‘The imaginary discontents of social history: A note of response to Mayfield and Thorne, and Lawrence and Taylor’, Social History, vol.18, no.1, January1993, pp.81-85;J. Vernon, ‘Who’s afraid of the “linguistic turn”? The politics of social history and its discontents’, Social History, vol.19, no.1, January1994, pp.81-97;N. Kirk, ‘History, language, ideas and post-modernism: A materialist view’, Social History, vol.19, no.2, May1994, pp.221-40;P. Joyce, ‘The end of social history?’, Social History, vol.20, no.1, January1995, pp.73-91. Google Scholar

77.A. Curthoys, ‘Labour history and cultural studies’, Labour History, no.67, November1994, pp.12-22;S. Scalmer, ‘Experience and discourse: A map of recent theoretical approaches to labour and social history’, Labour History, no.70, May1996, pp.156-68. Google Scholar

78.M. Lake, ‘The constitution of political subjectivity and the writing of labour history’, inT. Irving(ed.), Challenges to Labour History,UNSW Press,, 1994, pp.75-87;J. Damousi, The Gendering of Labour History,History Institute of Victoria,, 1992;J. Damousi, Women Come Rally: Socialism, Communism and Gender in Australia 1890-1955,Oxford University Press,, 1994;A. Metcalfe, ‘Sex and solidarity: Fraternity, patriarchy and labour history’, inT. Irving, (ed.), Challenges to Labour History, pp.88-112;A. Metcalfe, For Freedom and Dignity: Historical Agency and Class Structures in the Coalfields of NSW,Allen & Unwin,, 1988. Google Scholar

79.Metcalfe, ‘Sex and solidarity’, p.92. Google Scholar

80.B. Scates, A New Australia: Citizenship, Radicalism and the First Republic,Cambridge University Press,, 1997;S. Macintyre, The Reds: The Communist Party of Australia from Origins to Illegality,Allen & Unwin,, 1998. Google Scholar

81.L. Finch, The Classing Gaze: Sexuality, Class and Surveillance,Allen & Unwin,, 1993. Google Scholar

82.Jeff Sparrow andJill Sparrow, Radical Melbourne, 2vols,Vulgar Press,, 2001-04;Raymond Evans andCarole Ferrier(eds), Radical Brisbane: An Unruly History,Vulgar Press,, 2004;Terry Irving andRowan Cahill, Radical Sydney: Places, Portraits and Unruly Episodes,UNSW Press,, 2010. Google Scholar

83.G. Kealey andG. Patmore(eds), Canadian and Australian Labour History: Towards a Comparative Perspective,Australian Society for the Study of Labour History,, andthe Committee on Canadian Labour History, St John’s Newfoundland, in association with Australian-Canadian Studies,, 1990. Google Scholar

84.Neville Kirk, Comrades and Cousins: Globalization, Workers and Labour Movements in Britain, the USA and Australia from the 1880s to 1914,Merlin Press,, 2003. Google Scholar

85.R. Archer, Why is There No Labor Party in the United States?,Princeton University Press,, 2007. Google Scholar

86.A. Curthoys, ‘Does Australian history have a future?’, Australian Historical Studies, vol.33, no.118, 2002, pp.145-46. Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Bongiorno, Frank