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Articles by Dr Bob James
Bob James at the 1999 Labour History Conference
Bob James at the 1999 Labour History Conference
Photo Courtesy of Robert Hood

On-Line Books

Other Items


Other Published Material

How to Contact Bob James

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On-Line Books
Craft, Trade or Mystery? Part One - Britain from Gothic Cathedrals to the Tolpuddle Conspirators. by Dr Bob James

Revised May 2002, Published June 2002
Originally Published March 2001

A major study into the origins of Trade Unions, Freemasons and Friendly Societies. Understanding this history can contribute to redressing the directions and structure of these mutual organisations, and the directions for society in general.
Windows users: Download the whole text as a winzip file (294kb) for easy reading offline.

A Reader of Australian Anarchism 1886-1896 ...Bob James (Editor)

This title, published in 1977, presents material detailing that anarchist ideas were widely debated and accepted in the labour movement of the late nineteenth century. It was a ground breaking book in detailing the influence of anarchism on the labour movement in Australia of the time through Jack Andrews, the Andrade brothers, Larry Petrie, and many others.

Anarchism in Australia. An Anthology 1886-1986 ...Bob James (Editor)

Published in 1986 in a limited edition of 50 copies for the Celebration of the Centenary of Australian Anarchist Organisation, this gives an overview of one hundred years of anarchism in Australia. This gives the anarchist movement an active and proud history in Australia.

Anarchism and State Violence in Sydney and Melbourne 1886-1896 An argument about Australian labor history. ......Dr Bob James

The text of Bob James MA thesis at La Trobe University which Bob self published in 1986. The first four chapters are available....more to be loaded. The first two chapters examines the formation of the Melbourne Anarchist Club, the Haymarket Tragedy and its impact on the way anarchism is considered, and the way anarchism is written about and examined by academic scholars. The third chapter briefly details methods of Surveillance and Civil Control by the Military, Police and Newspapers in colonial Australia deriving from the British surveillance networks. An appendix contains J.A. Andrews' history of the Active Service Brigade and details of the 'Reign of Terror' unleashed on radicalism during the 1890s.

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Other Items

Loaded March 2002
In Origins of the Hunter Labour Movement Dr Bob James
Presents local labour history of Newcastle and the Hunter River in an exciting and varied format, which "allows the movement to grow out of working people's lives, as it did in practice".

Loaded February 2001
Problems with UK and US Odd Fellow Literature by Dr Bob James
"It's well past time that all persons who like to think of themselves as 'Masonic' historians or 'Labour' historians or 'Friendly Society' historians got down off their high horses and began talking to one another, in a mutually critical but constructive way."

Loaded February 2001
The Story of GUOOF and Traveller's Home in the 1840's and 1850's by Dr Bob James
Following on from his published history of the Grand United Order of Oddfellows in Australia, Secret Handshakes and Health Care in Australia, Bob James has continued his research into the beginnings of the GUOOF in Australia.

17 June 2000
Mutuality - a paper for the Australian Friendly Society Association National Conference, Coffs Harbour, May 2000. A presentation by Dr Bob James on the demutualisation debate - includes a brief history lesson on the origin of Friendly Societies and Trade Unions.

Loaded: 25 February 2000
William Robert Winspear (1861-1945)....Dr Bob James
W.R. Winspear was a pivotal figure in the radical labour movement of the 1880s and 1890s. His newspaper, The Radical, later called The Australian Radical, has been called the first regular socialist newspaper in Australia. This essay examines how several historians have interpreted Winspear's politics. Bob James has gone back to primary sources to question Winspear's politics and motivations. His research clears the path for a fuller biographical appraisal of Winspear and his contribution to the radical tradition in Australia.

Loaded: 14 February 2000
Secret Handshakes and Health Care in Australia...Bob James
Provides us with the story of the spread of health care throughout Australia through the efforts of ordinary working people. The story of Friendly Societies, in this case the Grand United Order of Oddfellows, is a remarkable story of mutual aid which for too long has been ignored by labour historians. Part One tells the story of the Grand United Order of Oddfellows in Australia. Part Two is a more personal account of Lodge history told through an elderly woman in a letter to her grandchildren.

Loaded: 1 January 2000
Secret Societies and the Labour Movement....Bob James
The Knights of Labour and their context....Bob James
Display of Secret Society Paraphenalia....Labour History Conference, Wollongong, October 1999
Pamphlet cover: Secret Societies and the Labour Movement These two essays were published for the 6th Biennial conference of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, held in Wollongong, October 1999. In conjunction with the conference Bob James organised a display of historic photographs of banners, certificates, as well as stand up figures and regalia he has collected in his researches. These essays are of value to anyone interested in the origins of trade unions and working peoples organisations. As Bob James sums up in the last paragraph: All lodges, today, are in decline, and the loss of membership of 'trade unions' is just one part of that. At a time when Australian mateship is being denigrated and generational dysfunction is widespread, there is little awareness of what used to tie communities together, what 'solidarity' can mean or how the 'labour movement' built itself in the first place.

Loaded: 20 December 1999
The Tragedy of Labour History in Australia.....Bob James
This talk was given by Bob James to the Wollongong Labour History Society in August 1997. It was published as Benefit Societies and Freemasons in Labour History in Illawarra Unity, Vol 1, No 3, 1998, Journal of the Illawarra Branch of ASSLH. Bob asked for this to replace the notes for his talk he gave in Melbourne. Bob presents some provocative facts to challenge the Labour History orthodoxy. Includes information on secret societies, Benefit Societies and Freemasons in Labour History.

Loaded: 5 May 1999
Questioning assumptions - Anarchism and Historiography....Bob James
Bob James argues that in historical research the evidence should lead. That history is made by people, often contradictory and rarely consistent. The job of historian is the work of a detective: to ask the right questions and examine motivations as much as rely on what is said by people.

Loaded: 15 February 1999
European Socialism and the Russian Revolution...Anarchism/Syndicalism.....Bob James
This is the text of a lecture written and given by Bob James at the University of Newcastle, Australia, around 1995. It is important as it gives some detailed background into the origins of the socialist movement, and the development of statist and libertarian forms of socialism.

Loaded: 15 February 1999
A Personal Journey Through Anarchism in Australia.....Bob James
Anarres Books in Melbourne organised for Bob James to present this talk at a public meeting organised by the Anarchist Media Institute. It is a personal account of Bob's journey and exploration of anarchism in Australia.

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Other Published Material

The following titles are all available to purchase from Anarres Books at

The following titles have also been published:

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How to Contact Dr Bob James

Dr Bob James is the Convenor and Co-ordinator of the Centre for Fraternal Studies in Newcastle, and can be contacted through the Centre's website.

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Last modified: July 30, 2006
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