This issue begins with a contribution from Sue Tracey, who relates the story of the Labor Emblem, a badge designed by Annie Gardner early last century. Sue tells us not just of how the badge came into being, but of the labour movement activities of Annie Gardner and her associates as well.
The main article in this issue is by John Tully, on Silvertown in Great Britain during the late 19th century. Although the substantive focus of the article is on labour movement struggles at the time, John emphasises that historical writing is partisan. He relates that his school history teacher “Old Harry” – a proponent of the “great men” approach to history – would be shocked by this view, which caused me to reflect how lucky I was that my favourite high school history teacher (who later became a life-long friend), a former student of the outstanding American historian Richard Hofstadter, once set an assignment requiring us to read two full-length historical studies (a different two books for each of us!) and analyse the bias in each. This task was, admittedly, somewhat over my head at the time, but I later understood how important that lesson was.
We then have two items from Danny Blackman. First, the lyrics to “The Ballad of 1891” about the great shearers’ strike, with commentary regarding the song’s origin. This is followed by a lively report and images from Danny’s attendance at the 2016 Barcaldine Tree of Knowledge Festival, marking the 125th anniversary of the strike.
The next contribution is also by Sue Tracey, a review of Rowan Day’s book Murder in Tottenham, a small town in Central West NSW. The book relates events surrounding the shooting of a police officer in 1916, for which members of the IWW were accused of the crime. Not surprisingly the activities related to the case were colourful, but the book also delves into the nature of the community and radical labour at the time.
The final two items document the passing of two significant labour movement figures. Sarah Gregson contributes an obituary of Doug Jordan, who in addition to his activism gave us the book Conflict in the Unions about the Communist Party and trade unionism in the post-WW2 era. Ann Symonds has given us a personal memoir of her friend Mavis Robertson, who died in 2015 after a lifetime of activism across a remarkable range of progressive causes.
I hope that you enjoy this issue. As I have mentioned in earlier editorial introductions, Hummer is a members’ journal, and we rely on contributions from our membership. If you, or someone that you know, has an item that you think would be of interest, don’t be reluctant to send it to us! The more contributions that we receive, the more frequently Hummer will appear.
Editor, The Hummer