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image icon Advertisement for a public lecture by John Curtin, 1912

Advertisement for a public lecture by John Curtin, 1912
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library


This is an advertisement published in the 'The Socialist' newspaper for a public lecture to be given by John Curtin at the Gaiety Theatre in Melbourne at '7 pm prompt, Sunday, 18th August' 1912, entitled 'The Man on the Job'. The advertisement notes that the doors open at 6.30 pm and warns people to come early if they want a seat. It also promises that the 'Socialist Choir, Orchestra, Band, and Soloists will perform' and there will be a collection at the door.

Educational value

This resource is useful because it:

  • This asset reveals the early involvement of John Curtin (Prime Minister of Australia 1941-45) with the socialist movement in Victoria - Curtin was a passionate member of the Victorian Socialist Party at this time; he presented lectures regularly and also wrote for 'The Socialist' (a weekly paper published by the Party).
  • This asset advertises a lecture that excited much controversy in Victorian newspapers at the time - Curtin, slightly tongue-in-cheek, advocated 'Less work, and not more, is the needed thing' and that 'The desire to get on is a desire to loaf', eliciting heated responses in the conservative press; Curtin gave another lecture in early September entitled 'The Man off the Job' in which he further stirred the pot by noting the different expectations of men who earned a wage and men who had money ' … what is immoral in the Man on the Job is virtuous in the Men off the Job. That is to give less than one gets'.
  • This asset provides concrete evidence of John Curtin's involvement as a young man with the Victorian Socialist Party - Curtin was active in the Party from about 1906 when he was 21 years old until 1917 when he moved to Western Australia.
  • This asset illustrates the types of activities members of early socialist movements in Australia were involved in and how the movement provided both intellectual and social life for its members - the Victorian Socialist Party published a weekly paper, organised a Sunday school, speakers' classes, picnics, dances and other outings as well as public lectures and the choir, orchestra, band and singers mentioned in the advertisement.
  • This asset indicates that public lectures on social issues were popular events in the early years of the 20th century among working people - attendees were advised to 'come early if you want a seat'.
  • This asset indicates that John Curtin was a popular speaker - his lectures were well attended and his thinking and oratory well regarded.
  • This asset shows that personal attendance at lectures was the only way that people could experience such events - there was usually no recording of such events and of course no television; a synopsis would sometimes appear in the next issue of 'The Socialist' newspaper.