The Australian National University has made available online digital copies of over 200 minute books documenting the workings of pre-Federation trade unions. Unions covered include the United Operative Stonemasons Society, Queensland Shearers Union, the Journeymen Coopers Society of Melbourne and Suburbs and the Amalgamated Society of Engineers. You can now download the minute books from the ANU Open Access Repository.
These minute books document the early formulation of our current industrial relations system, the beginnings of our social welfare system, the early history of communities and industries, and working lives that are no longer accessible today. They record events and achievements as they happened, local issues and disputes that developed into general strikes and became the first steps in broader campaigns such as that for the 8-Hour Day and the impetus for political representation of workers through the formation of the Australian Labor Party. These minute books were added to the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register in 2011.