The Learning Federation logo
Please refer to Conditions of use (This item contains non-TLF content.)

image icon Postcard depicting Beryl Bruce in 'Socialist' fancy dress, 1913

Postcard depicting Beryl Bruce in 'Socialist' fancy dress, 1913
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library


This is a postcard featuring a photograph of young Beryl ('Bobbie') Bruce dressed as 'The Socialist' newspaper at the Victorian Socialist Party's fancy dress ball in Melbourne in August 1913. Her dress features a copy of a page of the newspaper sewn onto the skirt, and a border near the hem with the words 'BORN OF REVOLUTION' on it. She is carrying a copy of the paper and holding a banner on which are the words 'BUY AND READ The Socialist'.

Educational value

This resource is useful because it:

  • This asset shows an example of a costume worn to a Victorian Socialist Party fancy dress ball in this period - the costume is political in intent and suggests the commitment of the young woman who has created and worn it, but it is also lively and appealing; the 19 August 1913 edition of 'The Socialist' newspaper praised both the personal and political aspects of Beryl Bruce's fancy dress.
  • This asset shows the care and effort put into creating costumes for events such as fancy dress balls in the early years of the 20th century - following the ball, 'The Socialist' newspaper published the photograph of Beryl Bruce with an admiring description of the detail and handicraft involved in making her costume.
  • This asset illustrates the types of activities members of early socialist movements in Australia were involved in and how the movement provided both an intellectual and a social life for its members - as well as the Victorian Socialist Party (VSP) publishing a weekly paper ('The Socialist - An exponent of international Socialism'), it organised a Sunday school, speakers' classes, picnics and other outings, public lectures, a choir, a band, an orchestra and fancy dress balls such as the one at which this photograph was taken.
  • This asset promotes 'The Socialist' newspaper, which was published by the VSP from 1906 to 1920 with the aim of raising the consciousness of workers - the paper featured news stories about socialist action in industrial and political spheres, inspirational and educational articles about socialist thought and the movement internationally, and information on socialist happenings in Melbourne; a regular 'Party Chronicles' column provided brief paragraphs on propaganda meetings, social gatherings, and reports on the health of stricken comrades; John Curtin, Prime Minister of Australia from 1941 to 1945, was an active member of the VSP in 1919, and 'The Socialist' reported on lectures he gave at venues such as the Bijou and Gaiety theatres in Melbourne, as well as publishing articles he wrote on socialist themes.
  • This asset is an example of a postcard being used for a political purpose - the photograph of Beryl Bruce has been turned into a postcard to promote 'The Socialist' newspaper; the account of the ball in the following week's paper noted 'A character which ought not to be passed over was "The Melbourne Socialist" represented by Miss Beryl Bruce, whose performance should send up the circulation of the paper at least another thousand'.