Guido Carlo Luigi Baracchi (1887–1975) was the son of Pietro Baracchi (1851–1926), who had emigrated from Italy in 1876 and was the government astronomer of Victoria from 1895 to 1915. Born in Melbourne, Baracchi was educated at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School and the University of Melbourne. His mother, who came from a family of wealthy butchers, died in 1908 and he lived off his inheritance for the rest of his life.
In 1913 Baracchi visited Europe and was converted to guild socialism. On his return to Melbourne, he took a leading part in the anti-war movement and he was gaoled in 1918 for making statements prejudicial to recruiting. He joined the International Industrial Workers and edited its journal Industrial solidarity. In 1920 he became a foundation member of the Communist Party of Australia and co-edited the Proletarian review. He again went overseas in 1923 and joined the communist parties in Germany and Britain, but he was expelled from the Communist Party of Australia in 1925. In 1926–29 he lectured in economics at the Victorian Labor College. In 1933–34 he lived in the Soviet Union, working as a translator. On his return to Australia, he was re-admitted to the Communist Party. He moved to Sydney, where he edited the Communist review. He was again expelled in 1940, on account of his favourable references to Trotsky. He remained a Trotskyist, but joined the Australian Labor Party, where he stood for the socialist objective—workers’ control of industry—and opposition to the Vietnam War.
Wealthy and cultivated, Baracchi was well known in literary and artistic circles, as well as among socialists and communists. From 1933 to 1941 he lived with Betty Roland (1903–1996), the playwright.
Baracchi bequeathed his books and papers to the Library and the collection was received in 1976. Works that were already held by the Library were returned to Baracchi’s daughter, Gilda Baracchi. Further papers of both Guido and Pietro Baracchi were donated by Gilda Baracchi under the Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme in 1991, 1993 and 1995.
The Baracchi Collection contains 374 pamphlets and issues of periodicals, mostly relating to communism, socialism, fascism, capitalism, international relations, public finance, politics, World War II, the Vietnam War and other pertinent topics in the period 1914–75. It includes many works by European and US writers, but almost all the pamphlets and periodicals were published in Australia.
There are a number of rare imprints of the Fourth International (Australian Section), as well as publications of the Australian Labor Party, Communist Party of Australia, Labor Research and Information Bureau, Victorian Labor College and Vietnam Action Committee. The authors include Frank Anstey, C. Barclay-Smith, George Black, J.A. Dawson, W.P. Earsman, W.H. Emmett, Len Fox, Frederick Macartney, Katharine Susannah Prichard, J.N. Rawling and Lloyd Ross. Among the overseas writers represented in the collection are Daniel De Leon, Georgi Dimitrov, Petr Kropotkin, Karl Marx, William Morris and Leon Trotsky.
In addition to the political and radical writings, there are a number of volumes of poetry and exhibition catalogues.
The collection includes four unsigned pastel portraits of Baracchi, painted near the end of his life.
The personal papers of Baracchi date from 1904 to 1975 and comprise correspondence, personal documents, financial papers, manuscripts, notebooks, subject files, speeches, photographs, newspaper cuttings, programs, and issues of journals and other publications.
The pamphlets in the Baracchi Collection are kept together as a formed collection within the Australian Collection. They have been catalogued individually and the call numbers have the prefix BACHp.
The portraits of Baracchi are held in the Pictures Collection (PIC R11156–59).
The papers of Pietro Baracchi, the father of Baracchi, are held in the Library at MS 8913. They comprise diaries, scientific notes, records of field trips, photographs and pamphlets. A finding aid is available online at https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-343584728/findingaid.
The papers of Betty Roland are also held in the Library at MS 814 and MS 6772. They include copies of letters to and from Baracchi (1934–72). In addition, there is an oral history interview with her recorded by Hazel De Berg in 1971 (ORAL TRC 1/556–557).
- Cotes, Roger et al., Interviews with Guido Baracchi, 1960-1969, ORAL TRC 567.
- Crouch, Wallace, Legend of the Left, The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 January 1976, p. 7.
- Gollan, Robin, Baracchi, Guido Carlo Luigi (1887–1975), Australian Dictionary of Biography online.
- ‘Obituary of Guido Baracchi’, The Age, 20 December 1975, p. 15.
- Sparrow, Jeff, Communism: a love story, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 2007
First posted 2008 (revised 2019)