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) 2745 items

  • Plug Puller - Handmade, circa 1985 Object

    Plug Puller - Handmade, circa 1985

    Peg puller made by R.V.I.B. Factory workers, possibly by Fred Kilpatrick, circa 1985. The plug puller was used by visually impaired workers to repair mats in the matmaking workshop at t ...

    Images: 2
  • Loom - Rod, circa 1900-1930 Object

    Loom - Rod, circa 1900-1930

    Rod Loom manufactured circa 1900-1930. This loom was used by visually impaired workers in the matmaking workshop of the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind to make floor mats. This ...

    Images: 4
  • Tool Box - Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, circa 1970s-1980s Object

    Tool Box - Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, circa 1970s-1980s

    Tool Box manufactured in the Carpentry Workshop at the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, circa 1970s-1980s. It was originally used by workers at factory to store some of the matm ...

    Images: 1
  • Block - Mat Measuring, circa 1972 Object

    Block - Mat Measuring, circa 1972

    Mat measuring block made by R.V.I.B. workers, circa 1972. It was used by visually impaired workers in the Matmaking workshop at the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind to gauge the ...

    Images: 1
  • Block - Mat Measuring, circa 1972 Object

    Block - Mat Measuring, circa 1972

    Mat measuring block made by R.V.I.B. workers, circa 1972. It was used by visually impaired workers in the Matmaking workshop at the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind to gauge the ...

    Images: 1
  • Block - Mat Measuring, circa 1972 Object

    Block - Mat Measuring, circa 1972

    Mat measuring block made by R.V.I.B. workers, circa 1972. It was used by visually impaired workers in the Matmaking workshop at the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind to gauge the ...

    Images: 1
  • 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
  • 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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