Diary of a Labour Man 1917 - 1945 1917 - 1928 Editor of the 'Westralian Worker'
Images from the life of John Curtin

Australia's war time Prime Minister John Curtin (1941-45) was a man who lived for the cause of labour. This diary covers his life in the years he worked as editor of the Westralian Worker, WA's labour weekly newspaper.

Compiled primarily from information in the Worker, supplemented by other sources such as family papers, photographs and published biographies, it is not an exhaustive account of Curtin's activities but it does paint a picture of the day to day life of this remarkable man. It is hoped to add further entries to the diary over time to cover the years up to 1945.

The diary begins with Curtin's move to Perth from Melbourne in 1917. It reveals a demanding schedule of continuous newspaper deadlines, endless meetings (both night and day), frequent speaking engagements, and constant rounds of State and federal election campaigns along with the odd by-election. This frenetic activity is set against the backdrop of the fiery and divisive conscription battles of World War One and the many problems Australia faced in the post-war period and the emerging Great Depression.

It also chronicles the important dates in Curtin's personal life - he married Elsie Needham in 1917 and the couple had two chidren. Their household grew when his in-laws arrived from Tasmania in 1919 and life was further complicated by three house moves before John and Elsie finally built their own home in Cottesloe in 1923.

Harder to glimpse are his precious leisure time activities - on summer weekends Curtin played cricket with the local Cottesloe Club and on Saturdays in the winter he went to the footie. He enjoyed Sunday outings to the beach with the family, brisk walks, gardening, listening to the wireless and reading.

We invite you to explore the diary of Curtin's life as editor of the Westralian Worker from 1917 to 1928.

1917 1918 1919 1920 1921 1922
1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928