Skip to Main Content

Australia in World War II, 1939 - 1945

A guide to records held in the ANU Archives


The ANU Archives collect records of federally registered trade unions and their predecessors, and of peak councils such as the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).

Included in the records of many unions are files about wartime production and staffing, post-war reconstruction and the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen.

There may be additional material relating to World War II in other trade union collections.

Administrative and Clerical Officers' Association

Subject files

A12/2/181a: Application of Military Organisation to the Clerical Office (1939 - 1954)

A12/2/371: Conditions of enlistment and returned soldier preferences (1939 - 1945)

A12/2/83b: Delay in filling vacancies - Defence (1933 - 1946)

A12/2/182: Department of Navy - filling of civilian positions (1922 - 1953)

A12/2/216: Leave for war and defence purposes (1939 - 1957)

A12/2/365: Officers employed in war zones (1941 - 1944)

A12/2/133: Post-war reconstruction (1951)

A12/2/11: Promotions during the war period (1940 - 1955)

A12/2/34: Reclassification - Defence (1935 - 1941)

A12/2/63: Recreation leave during the war period (1940 - 1945)

A12/2/162: Recreation leave - effect of the war (1944 - 1953)

A12/2/320: Returned soldiers (1946)

A12/2/160: Seniority of returned soldiers (1926 - 1949)

A12/2/64: Sick leave - returned soldiers (1942 - 1945)

A12/2/366; E182/17: Wartime loading (pay) (1940 - 1942)

A12/2/67: Wartime staffing (1943 - 1945)

Amalgamated Engineering Union

Secretary's correspondence with various Departments and Ministers of the Federal and State (NSW) Governments and their agencies (1944-1945), concerning:

N24/117: Manpower department (1945)

N24/118: Minister for Aircraft Production (1944)

N24/119: Minister for the Army (1944)

N24/120: Minister for Labour and National Service (1944 - 1945)

N24/121: Minister for Munitions (1944 - 1945)

N24/122: Minister for Navy (1945)

N24/123: Minister for Supply and Shipping (1944)

N24/124: Minister for Trade and Customs (1945)

N24/125: Minister for War Organisation of Industry (1945)

N24/126: Munitions Department

N24/127: Other Government Departments (1944 - 1945)

N24/128: Other Ministers (1945)

N24/129: Post-War Reconstruction (1945)

N24/130: Premier's Department (NSW) (1945)

N24/131: Public Works Department (NSW)

N24/132: Prime Minister (J B Chifley) (1945)

N24/133: Railways Department (1945)

N24/134: Rationing Commission (1944 - 1945)

N24/135: Road Transport Department (1945)

N24/136: State Arbitration Court (NSW) - industrial proceedings regarding dispute with Stokes & Sons Pty Ltd (1945)

N24/137: Taxation Department (1944 - 1945)

N24/138: Treasurer (J B Chifley) (1944 - 1945)

N24/102-139: War Organisation of Industry (Department) (1944)

E209/16: Minutes of the Lithgow District Committee of the Amalgamated Engineering Union recording the men's refusal to work with women in the manufacturing sections of the Small Arms Factory (1942)

E220/341, E220/427: Dispute and industrial correspondence files concerning war loading and contribution to the war effort (1940 - 1945)

E220/273: Minutes and decisions of the Joint Sub-Committee on Shell Manufacture (1940)

E140/5: Membership proposition forms relating to female workers (1943 - 1958)

E220/695: Conference on industrial matters, Parliament House, Canberra (27-28 December 1941). Conference to consider means of achieving and maintaining continuous production at the highest possible level in all branches of industry throughout Australia for the duration of the war. Report of debate

Amalgamated Metal Workers' & Shipwrights' Union

Z88/18: Circular concerning the Ambulance and Medical Appeal for Australian military forces and forces of the Soviet Union

Z102/1040: Equal pay documents, wage surveys and reports, with a Federated Rubber Workers Union of Australia report 'Claim for equal occupational rates for women replacing men in wartime' (1938 - 1945)

Z102/185: Membership Registration Book for Women (1943 - 1945)

Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers' Federation of Australia

E170/1-61: Minutes, correspondence and other records of NSW, Queensland, South Australian and Victorian branches (1942 - 1945)

E218/108: Contributions Book, NSW Branch (1941 - 1943)

Australian Boot Trade Employees Federation

E131/8: Agenda and minutes of meetings of the Industrial Committee of Boot Repairers organised by the Ministry of Post-War Reconstruction, Adelaide (Apr - Oct 1948)

Australian Council of Trade Unions

Please note that Archives staff will need to request permission from the ACTU before giving access

N21/62: Congress papers concerning defence of Australia and compulsory military service (1940)

N21/55: Subject and correspondence files - industrial war effort, statistics on the cost of living expenditure, judgement by Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration on application for war loading, a statement by Mr Menzies on the transport of pig iron to Japan (1938 - 1941)

ACTU Secretary's subject files

N21/432: Food for Britain (1947 - 1948)

N21/462: Manpower transfer conference (1945)

N21/468: Munitions factory dismissals (1945)

N21/482-488: Post-war reconstruction (1945 - 1949)

N21/491: Preference to soldiers (1944 - 1945)

Australian Institute of Marine & Power Engineers

E202/363: Correspondence concerning claims for repatriation benefits by family members of engineers killed or missing in action (circa 1941 - 1943)

Building Workers Industrial Union of Australia

Z285/76: War effort (1942 - 1943)

Z285/77: Wartime permanent housing (1944)

Z285/199: Munitions agreement (1943 - 1951)

Z285/120: Post-war training (1945 - 1946)

Clothing and Allied Trades Union of Australia

E138/18/58-70: General Secretary's correspondence and papers concerning firms engaged in the manufacture of military clothing (1940 - 1944). Includes:

  • Lists and associated correspondence on contracts for uniforms
  • National Security Regulation: Fashion for Victory (1942 - 1944)
  • Deputation to J J Dedman, Minister for War Organisation of Industry
  • Correspondence on the Women's Employment Act
  • Deputation to Hon R V Keane on women in industry
  • Federal Trade Unions' Council papers on employment of women in wartime
  • Conference between the Minister for War Organisation of Industry and the Clothing and Allied Trades' Union (1943)

E193/33: Reports of conferences between the union and the Minister for War Organisation of Industry, Victorian Prices Branch and the Minister for Trade and Customs (1943)

Federated Felt Hatting and Allied Trades Employees' Union of Australia

E87/5/5-6: Correspondence from Ministry of Post-War Reconstruction concerning specifications of army hats (1943), and the Felt Hatting Industry Advisory Board and Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme (1946)

Federated Furnishing Trade Society of Australia

T58/8: Correspondence concerning rehabilitation of ex-servicemen (1944 - 1947)

Federated Ironworkers' Association of Australia

E218/41-46: Correspondence with the Small Arms Factory, Lithgow (1937 - 1945), State (NSW) and Commonwealth Government Departments (1941 - 1944)

E218/58: Correspondence and reports concerning housing, medical care and transport at munitions centres (1940 - 1944)

E218/59: Studies on the feasibility of introducing piecework and bonus systems into small arms and munitions factories (1942 - 1945). Includes surveys carried out at the Footscray factory (1942)

E218/310: Female labour in the metal trades industry (1939 - 1941)

E218/319: Applications to the Women's Employment Board (1942 - 1945)

N14/398: National Secretary's correspondence concerning the FIA Soldier Welfare Fund (1945 - 1965)

Federated Confectioners' Association of Australia

N194/62: Correspondence between Federated Confectioners' Association of Australia and wartime departments (1941 - 1944)

Merchant Service Guild of Australia

E85/19/1-3: Correspondence regarding some of the wartime concerns of the Merchant Navy, including Naval Reserve, enemy risk, rates of pay for masters and officers transferring to RANR Merchant Reserve Pool, citations and recommendations for Merchant Navy personnel). Also, correspondence re Norwegian seamen internees (1939 - 1947)

E85/19/4: Minutes of meetings of the Australian Merchant Seamen's Relief Fund (1942 - 1947)

E85/20/4: Circulars from the Maritime Taxation Defence League; correspondence between the Prime Minister and Secretaries of the Maritime Transport Council and the Merchant Service Guild (1935 - 1947)

National Union of Railwaymen of Australia

E80/49/1-4: The Law Book Company's war legislation service - Commonwealth of Australia National Security Act proclamations and state orders (1939 - 1943)

North Australian Workers' Union

E170A/1: Correspondence concerning re-establishment of North Australian Workers' Union following Japanese raid, Darwin (Feb 1942)

NSW Farmers' Association (Graziers' Association of NSW)

E256/1373-1414: British Australian Wool Realisation Association (BAWRA), Australian Woolgrowers' Council (AWC) and National Council of Wool Selling Brokers (NCWB) - meetings and conferences concerning surplus wool stocks (1919 - 1966)

Printing and Kindred Industries' Union

Printing Industry Employees' Union of Australia, South Australian Branch subject files:

  • E92/13A/16: Soldiers' repatriation, post-war reconstruction training schemes (1940 - 1944)
  • E92/13A/17: Newsprint rationing, training for munitions and manpower (1940 - 1943)
  • E92/13A/19: Post-war reconstruction council meetings (1942 - 1946)
  • E92/13A/20: Soldiers discharged, munitions workers released or transferred (1944 - 1946)
  • E92/13A/27: War rationing (1943 - 1944)
  • E92/13A/35: Civil defence matters (1942)

Professional Radio Employees of Australia

E208/281: Marine Section correspondence concerning wartime shipping measures, seamen's war pensions, prisoner-of-war family maintenance (1939 - 1941)

E208/282: List of merchant vessels lost or damaged through enemy action, South West Pacific area (1939 - 1943)

E208/300: Seamen's War Pensions and Allowances Act and Regulations, including working papers and correspondence with members regarding repatriation matters (1940 - 1953)

Seamen's Union of Australia

E183/9: Minutes of meetings of the Merchant Seamen's Relief Fund (1942 - 1946), including minutes of antecedent organisation, the King George's Fund for Sailors (1942) and some General Secretary's correspondence (1945 - 1946)

E183/26/16: General Secretary's correspondence on: coal miners' dispute (1938 - 1944); seamen's dispute (1943); Greek shipping (1944)

E183/26/34: General Secretary's correspondence on National Security regulations (1939 - 1945)

E183/26/37: General Secretary's correspondence on internment of seamen (1941 - 1942)

E183/29/15: Australian Merchant Seamen's Relief Fund - correspondence with members regarding benefits (1943 - 1949)

N38/199: Subject file - Department of Labour and National Service Trade Unions' Conventions (1942 - 1943)

N38/1082: Poster - Department of Public Relations, Australian Survey Corps 'Australian Army Operations, 1940 - 1945'

Transport Workers' Union of Australia

T33/18: National Security (Land Transport) Regulations and minutes of the War Road Transport Committee (1939 - 1945)

T29/1/14-15, 19, 21: Union correspondence concerning employment in the US Transport Services, supply of essential service, petrol rationing and manpower, etc with respect to transport workers (1944 - 1945)

Waterside Workers' Federation of Australia

Please note that Archives staff will need to request permission from the successor union before giving access

E171/20: Correspondence concerning waterside workers at Darwin in matters of war damage (1941 - 1946)

E171/39: Labour conditions on the Australian waterfront (1939)

E171/77: 'Food for Britain' ships - schedules of sailings; estimates of cargo quantities (1947)

E171/80: Correspondence between the General Secretary WWF, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Supply and Shipping (1944 - 1945)

E171/83: Indonesian exile - report by A Ely concerning an investigation into Indonesian Communist internees held at Cowra (1943)

Z432/86: Photograph of Christmas hamper appeal (circa 1942)

Z248/75: Printed material including pamphlets etc on international cooperation, disarmament and peace after the war (1939 - 1945)

Woolclassers' Association of Australia

E147/30: Correspondence between the Australian Wool Realisation Commission and the Australian Wool Board (1945 - 1951)