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Biographical entry Curtin, John Joseph (1885 - 1945)

8 January 1885
Creswick, Victoria
5 July 1945
Politician - Federal - MHR and Trade Union - Organiser


Born on the 8th January 1885 at Creswick, Victoria, Curtin became involved in the Labor movement from an early age. By 1911 Curtin became organising secretary of the sawmillers' union, a position he held until 1915, citing the 'stress and storm of trade union responsibility' as a contributing factor in leaving. In 1917 Curtin was appointed editor of the Western Australian branch of the Australian Workers' Union publication 'Westralian Worker'. Aside from helping to make the Westralian Worker the best Australian Labor paper, Curtin also attained the office of State District President of the Australian Journalists' Association in 1920 and strongly supported the Workers' Educational Association. Ultimately winning the Federal seat of Fremantle in 1928 he rose a year later to the caucus executive. Despite losing his seat in 1931, Curtin was back in parliament by 1934 using this brief enforced political hiatus to work as publicity officer for the Perth Trades Hall Council. Impressing with his oratory, Curtin rose quickly through the ranks of the Australian Labor Party so that in 1941 he became Prime Minister of Australia. Curtin died whilst still in office on the 5th July 1945.

Archival resources

John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library

  • Timber Worker articles by or relating to John Curtin, 1913 - 1915, JCPML00615/1-56; John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library. Details

National Archives of Australia, National Office

  • Papers - Ben Chifley, 1940 - 1949; National Archives of Australia, National Office. Details
  • Papers - John Curtin, 1938 - 1947; National Archives of Australia, National Office. Details

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • Lloyd Ross - Papers, 1854-1986, 1854 - 1986, MS 3939; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

Published resources


  • Day, David, John Curtin: A Life, HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd, Pymble, New South Wales, 1999, 610 pp. Details

Book Sections

  • Serle, Geoffrey, 'Curtin, John', in Ritchie, John (ed.), Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 13, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1993, pp. 550-558. Details

Edited Books

  • Grattan, Michelle (ed.), Australian Prime Ministers, New Holland Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd, Australia, 2001, 512 pp. Details

Online Resources

Bruce A. Smith