The Australian Society for the Study of Labour History (ASSLH) was formed in 1961 on the initiative of Bob Gollan and the author at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra and this article is a personal account of the author’s involvement during two decades. The Society brought together academics and activists, produced Labour History and other publications, established branches throughout Australia and forged international connections. By the 1970s, the Society had broadened its scope into social history, linking with the women’s movement and other critical intellectual and political trends of the time. It had become a forceful influence on the study, publicising and understanding of Australia’s history, voicing contemporary concerns. By the 1980s, the circumstances which had centred the Society in Canberra had changed. Its headquarters were transferred to Sydney, its activities diversified and its branches became more autonomous.