Labor Pains. Early Conference and Executive Reports of the Labor Party of NSW : [2]

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In 2006, Federation Press published the first volume of a series of historical resources of the NSW ALP. It was a project partly funded by the Committee for the Sesquicentenary of Responsible Government 1856-2006, which had been an initiative of the Carr Labor Government. The first volume provided documents of press reports of Annual Conferences from 1892 till 1905, along with the published Executive Reports of the party that were discussed at the Conferences. Where possible the press reports were from the Labor press – The Australian Workman and later The Worker, although sometimes the Sydney Morning Herald provided a fuller report and was preferred. In 2008 two more volumes followed: Volume 2 for the years 1906-11, and Volume 3 for 1912-17. Each Volume contains an introductory essay setting the political context of the period, along with short contextual introductions to each chapter. The books are beautifully produced in the best traditions of Federation Press.

It was always my intention to continue the series, if possible to the period of the re-creation of the NSW ALP in 1939 after the disasters of the Lang years. However, funding from the Sesquicentenary Committee was exhausted. I had hopes that the Labor Party might be prepared to help fund some of its own history, but those hopes proved baseless. Volume 4 (1918-25) and Volume 5 (1926-39) were prepared to page-proof stage, but with no funding the publication of actual physical books had to be abandoned. With the kind permission of Federation Press these are the pages reproduced in this digital archive.

No index was prepared for these final two volumes. However, the files are searchable online. This function is especially valuable for researchers interested in some of the personalities of the period. Obviously a search of important political figures like Ben Chifley, Ted Theodore or Bill McKell will result in multiple ‘hits’, but perhaps more interesting is the background provided on the hundreds of minor figures who made up the active membership of Annual Conferences. For example, a search of Volume 5 returns dozens of references to Stephen Gould (father of the bookseller and leftist stirrer, Bob Gould), who was a dedicated Langite with firm roots in his local branch. It would be a wonderful result if this project resulted in a revival of academic interest in the active membership of the Labor Party over the years.

Michael Hogan
November 2011

Volumes 1 to 3 can be purchased through Federation Press

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