Working Life & Trades Collection

Planes - Jack, Trying, Grooving, Tongueing and Moulding, Yarra Punt Builder

Image: Planes - Jack, Trying, Grooving, Tongueing and Moulding, Yarra Punt Builder

Source: Museum Victoria

This collection aims to document and preserve the history of Victorian workers, and to record their impact on and contribution to Australian society.

Focussing on the post-European settlement period to the present, it aims to reflect the experiences and actions of individuals and groups of workers in different historical, personal, social, economic and cultural settings. It also aims to document the personal and unique renderings of workers' experiences and actions.

Much of the collection documents 'case studies' of working life in Victoria and Australia. These offer insight into a particular type of workplace and work, with some emphasis on workers' voices, while the wider collection represents a variety of working-life skills, experiences and cultures.

The strengths of the collection lie in its coverage of early to mid-20th century factory work, small businesses and trades and the trade union movement. It focuses on work practices in more formal work environments such as factories, commercial workshops and the traditional apprentice-based trades, but is complemented by other collections of less formal workplace objects, such as the home work and handicrafts area in the Domestic and Community Life Collection.

Trades relating to metalworking and precision engineering, especially those requiring the extensive use of machine tools and power tools, are covered under the Engineering Collection rather than in Trades.

Significant items

  • Barfoot Bootmaking Collection: 211 items from a former surgical bootmaker's business.
  • Bruhn Collection: 985 items from a father and son woodturning shop operated in Carlton and later South Melbourne, 1920s-1980s.
  • Grenoble Gloves Collection: 454 items from a Melbourne glove factory started in 1944.
  • McInnes Delicatessen and Butcher's Shop: 106 items from the East Malvern shop, which operated from 1933 to the 1970s.
  • Newmarket Saleyards Collection: 27 items from former livestock saleyards.
  • Pigment Manufacturers of Australia (PMA): 135 items from a major paint manufacturing plant at Laverton, 1960s-1990s.
  • Sam Brown Bootmaker's Collection: 297 items from a former bootmaker's shop in Albert Park, c. 1930s-1980s.
  • Simpson's Gloves Collection: 1491 items from the former Simpson's Glove Factory which operated in Victoria Street, Richmond, from 1924 until 1988.
  • Victorian Institute for the Blind Collection: 107 items from former RVIB workshops.
  • Artworks, including Ambrose Dyson, David Armfield and Aileen Brown, 1950s-1980s.
  • 'Stick Together' radio program oral history collection, 1970s-1980s.
  • Contemporary occupational health and safety material, 1990s.
  • Stonemason's tools and early bootmaking machinery.

See The Working Life Collection, and an essay on this collection from A Museum for the People: A history of Museum Victoria and its predecessor institutions 1854-2000.

Items per page: 10 50 (showing 41 - 50) 2862 items

  • Knife - Matmaking, circa 1986 Object

    Knife - Matmaking, circa 1986

    Matmaking knife probably made by former RVIB worker Fred Kilpatrick, circa 1986. The knife was used by visually impaired workers in the matmaking workshop of the Royal Victorian Institu ...

    Images: 1
  • Sewing Palm - Sailmakers, circa 1985 Object

    Sewing Palm - Sailmakers, circa 1985

    Sailmakers Sewing Palm made circa 1985-1986. The palm was used by visually impaired workers in the matmaking workshop at the Royal Victorian for the Blind Institute during the binding o ...

    Images: 1
  • Hole Punch - Maun Industries, Leather, circa 1980s Object

    Hole Punch - Maun Industries, Leather, circa 1980s

    Leather hole punch manufactured by Maun Industries, England circa 1980s. It was used to punch holes in the back of the palms in order to lace them up.

    Images: 1
  • Stencil - Made by the Blind, circa 1985 Object

    Stencil - Made by the Blind, circa 1985

    Stencil with the wording 'Made by the Blind' manufactured circa 1985. It was was used by visually impaired workers in the matmaking workshop of the Royal Victorian Institute for the Bli ...

    Images: 1
  • Stencils - Numbers, circa 1985 Object

    Stencils - Numbers, circa 1985

    Set of seven metal stencils with the numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9 they were used at the matmaking workshop at the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, circa 1985-1992. They were used ...

    Images: 1
  • Mat - RVIB Factory Workers, circa 1966 Object

    Mat - RVIB Factory Workers, circa 1966

    Mat with image of a lighthouse made by Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind Factory workers, circa 1966. The mat was made by visually impaired workers at the R.V.I.B. matmaking works ...

    Images: 1
  • Sharpening Machine - Thorvald Clasen, circa 1950s-1970s Object

    Sharpening Machine - Thorvald Clasen, circa 1950s-1970s

    Sharpening Machine manufactured by Thorvald Clasen, circa 1950s-1970s. This sharpening machine is an attachment to the Thorvald Clasen trimming machine used in the matmaking workshop Ro ...

    Images: 1
  • Trimming Machine - Thorvald Clasen, circa 1950s-1970s Object

    Trimming Machine - Thorvald Clasen, circa 1950s-1970s

    Alternative Name(s): Shearing Machine; Schermaschine Nr51 Trimming machine made by Thorvald Clasen, circa 1950s-1970s. This machine was used by visually impaired workers to trim pile o ...

    Images: 1
  • Trimming Machine - England, circa 1900-1972 Object

    Trimming Machine - England, circa 1900-1972

    Trimming Machine manufactured in England some time between 1900 and 1972. It was used by visually impaired workers to trim pile on mats in matmaking workshop at the Royal Victorian Inst ...

    Images: 1
  • Mallet - Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, Wooden, circa 1970s-1980s Object

    Mallet - Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, Wooden, circa 1970s-1980s

    Wooden mallet made by the R.V.I.B. Carpentry Workshop, circa 1970s-1980s. It was used by visually impaired workers in the matmaking workshop to tap mats into shape.

    Images: 2
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