Measuring 580 x 450 x 150mm, with more than 1500 pages, this is one of the heaviest items in the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library collection and requires two people to move it from the shelves. The register was created for the People’s Printing and Publishing Co. which was incorporated in 1910. Bound in leather and cloth, with a metal hinged spine and leather index tabs this hefty volume was built to last.
The People’s Printing and Publishing Co. was formed in 1910 by the Australian Worker’s Union in Western Australia with the aim of publishing a Labor Daily newspaper and “for the establishment of means for the distribution of knowledge for the education of the people, and the general extension of the principles of Co-operation”. The prospectus for the company further describes the purpose –
The intended Labor Daily proposes to set before it the ideals of Humanity, to be the champion of the weak and oppressed, the guardian of liberty, the advocate of the wronged, the exposer of abuses, the foe of exploiters, the distributor of knowledge, the mouthpiece of workers in every position of life, the enemy of injustice, and the builder of the social fabric on lines consistent with justice to every member of the community, and its aims may be summarised by calling it the Organ of Labor, and the Educator of the people.
To raise capital for the company, members of Unions were encouraged to purchase shares at £1 to be paid in instalments. The register was maintained from 1910 until 1922, and lists the shareholders by name, occupation, and address, although for most entries only the locality and not full address is entered. While the production of a daily paper was the original purpose of the company, by 1914 this had not eventuated with the company instead taking control of the weekly Westralian Worker.
In 1917, John Curtin was appointed editor of that paper. He arrived from Melbourne, to take up the position and start a new life in Western Australia, one hundred years ago, on February 16th.
Reference: The origins of the company and the prospectus are sourced from The People’s Printing & Publishing Company of WA Ltd. Minutes of Preliminary Meeting & Director’s Meetings, 16th May, 1910 – 12th January, 1922, JCPML01263/1. Original held by Noel Butlin Archives Centre, Australian National University: N117/1515.