Lives promotes innovative research into the role of the individual
To develop and promote labour biography research Working
Lives seeks contributions from researchers in the field of labour and
social history biography. If you would like to be part of the Working
Lives project, please email
the site editor with a brief research and biographical outline.
There is a growing recognition that the study of the individual
enriches labour and social history research. Labour biography has
increasingly diversified from a focus on life studies of prominent
labour leaders to embrace the experiences of a range of working
men and women, unionists and activists, or discrete networks in
local communities and the workplace. Working Lives reflects this
Based in the
discipline of Work and Organisational Studies at the University
of Sydney, Working Lives draws together contributors examining a
range of labour biography subjects and methodologies, including:
labour history and narrative identity, trade union leadership, labour
intellectuals, studies of the justices of the NSW Industrial Commission
and a progress report on the Biographical Register of the Australian
Labour Movement which includes entries on 2,000 labour activists.
Several entries on pioneering women activists can also be found
at this page.
articles are directly available by simply clicking on the appropriate
links. Over time we will expand the range of articles, and the debates
on methodological issues, with contributions from Australian and
William Guthrie Spence, Labour Pioneer
Photo source: National Library of Australia
By Harry Knowles
William Guthrie Spence remains a legendary figure in the history of the Australian labour movement. As much maligned in recent times as he was celebrated by earlier historians of the movement, Spence continues to sustain a position of dominance in any account of the growth and development of trade unionism in Australia. Spence was a prominent player both industrially and politically for working people. His achievement of securing a federal ministry between 1914 and 15 was the symbolic consummation of his long-held belief that the ultimate salvation of the worker lay in the implementation of “the larger reforms absolutely necessary to effect social reconstruction”.
Find out more
Other articles in Working Lives:
readers are encouraged to provide your comments or questions about
the site or the articles either to the site editor or directly to
Working Lives editor.
Department of Modern History,
Editor: Mark Hearn
Editorial committee: Terry Irving, Harry Knowles, Greg Patmore, John Shields
Working Lives and the authors.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Working Lives articles are those of
the contributors and do not represent the views of the editorial committee,
Work and Organisational Studies, or the University of Sydney.
Working Lives was created
and is maintained by Southland Media Pty Ltd. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org