Forgotten Trades: selected records of early Australian trades

Forgotten Trades

Forgotten Trades showcases 12 diverse occupations represented in union records held at the Noel Butlin Archives Centre:

  • Felt hat makers
  • Printers
  • Confectioners
  • Coal & Shale workers
  • Railwaymen and transport workers
  • Bakers
  • Hairdressers & wigmakers
  • Clothing trades
  • Undertakers
  • Stonemasons
  • Shearers
  • Furnishers

Workers in these industries formed trade unions in the nineteenth century. They united to campaign for fair pay and conditions, to give support in times of unemployment and ill health, to influence political and industrial policy, and to socialise and celebrate.

Since then, these occupations have changed substantially, with advances in manufacturing, shifting demand for goods, and with increased international trade. These formerly niche unions also transformed, in most cases amalgamating to form super unions, covering a wide array of trades.

The display includes minute books, correspondence, photographs, leaflets and ephemera, publications and objects. The material covers both very specific aspects of the business or membership of the union, as well as giving insights into the broader social and political conditions of the time.