Working Lives promotes innovative research into the role of the individual
in labour and
social history.

Labour Biography
Labour Intellectuals
Biographical Register

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 diversity.

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.

Contributors 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 international researchers.

William Guthrie Spence, Labour Pioneer
WG Spence

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
Photo source: National Library of Australia

Other articles in Working Lives:

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 individual contributors.

Mark Hearn,
Working Lives editor.
Department of Modern History,
Macquarie University

Editorial Committee

Editor: Mark Hearn
Editorial committee: Terry Irving, Harry Knowles, Greg Patmore, John Shields

© Working Lives and the authors.
r: 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.

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