Lloyd Maxwell Ross (1901–1987) was born in Brisbane, the son of the socialist journalist R.S. Ross (1873–1931). He was educated at Melbourne High School, the University of Melbourne and later at the University of New Zealand, where he gained a doctorate. In 1925 he was appointed a tutor in adult education at the Workers Educational Association at Dunedin. He returned to Australia in 1933 and worked for the Workers Educational Association in Newcastle, before taking up the post of Assistant Director of Tutorial Classes at Sydney University. In 1935 he was elected secretary of the Australian Railways Union. From 1943 to 1949 he was Director of Public Relations in the Department of Post-war Reconstruction. He then worked as a journalist in Melbourne before returning to the Australian Railways Union in 1952. He remained secretary of the Australian Railways Union until his retirement in 1969.

Ross joined the Communist Party of Australia in 1935, but was expelled in 1941 on account of his opposition to the German–Soviet Pact. During the War he was a strong supporter of John Curtin. In his later years he was associated with the right wing of the Australian Labor Party. He was president of the Australian Association for Cultural Freedom in 1961–68.

Ross wrote several plays and numerous pamphlets. He was the author of:

From the Martyrs to the Masses: Pages in the History of Trade Unionism (1934)

William Lane and the Australian Labour Movement (1935)

John Curtin: A Biography (1977)

He worked on a biography of his father, but it was unfinished at the time of his death.


The Lloyd Ross Collection of books, pamphlets, manuscripts and personal papers was purchased by the Library in three instalments in 1974, 1979 and 1982.


Printed Materials

The Lloyd Ross Collection contains 1576 pamphlets, leaflets, speeches, issues of newspapers and serials, and newspaper cuttings published between 1892 and 1970. A majority of them are Australian imprints, but there are a significant number of New Zealand and European imprints as well. The greatest strength of the collection is trade unionism and particularly the Australian Railways Union. There are also many publications on socialism, Marxism, communism, the Australian Labor Party, the Socialist Party of Victoria, the Industrial Groups, the New Zealand Labour Party, conscription, civil liberties, industrial regulation and disputes, employment and unemployment, post-war reconstruction, economic policy, the railways, the Vietnam War and Irish nationalism.

Among the Australian politicians and political activists represented in the collection are Frank Anstey, Maurice Blackburn, H.E. Boote, Arthur Calwell, E.W. Campbell, Brian Fitzpatrick, William McKell, A.B. Piddington, P.R. Stephenson, B.A. Santamaria and L.L. Sharkey. Overseas writers include John Burns, C.H. Douglas, Henry George, J.M. Keynes, Petr Kropotkin, Tom Mann, Karl Marx, Bernard Shaw, Joseph Stalin and Ben Tillett.

The collection also contains a number of books that had been collected by Ross and his father. In particular, they owned many works of the English socialist historian G.D.H. Cole. Other authors include Edward Bernstein, William Beveridge, H.E. Boote, E.J. Brady, Brian Fitzpatrick, Jean Jaures, Karl Kautsky, Henry Lawson, Jack London, Tom Mann, William Morris, Vance Palmer and H.G. Wells.


Ross inherited an important archive of papers of his father, R.S. Ross, including correspondence, notebooks, scrapbooks, minute books, leaflets, newspaper cuttings and photographs. He also owned manuscripts and papers of the politician and journalist Frank Anstey (1865–1940), including correspondence with John Curtin. While writing the biography of Curtin, he acquired a small amount of correspondence of Curtin, including letters of E.G. Theodore and J.B. Chifley.

Personal Papers

The papers of Ross cover his entire life and include correspondence, diaries, personal memorabilia, notebooks, memoranda, subject files, lectures, addresses, newspaper cuttings, photographs, reports, research material and typescripts. There are large series on the Workers Educational Association, the Australian Railways Union and the Department of Post-war Reconstruction.

Oral History

The Library holds interviews recorded with Ross by Suzanne Walker in 1973 (ORAL TRC 236) and by Richard Raxworthy and Michael Easson in 1986 (ORAL TRC 1948–21).


The pamphlets in the Lloyd Ross Collection have been kept together as a collection within the Australian Collection. Each work has been catalogued individually; the call numbers have the prefix ROSS. The manuscripts, personal papers and books, which occupy 121 boxes, are housed in the Manuscripts Collection at MS 3939. The books and other printed material are in Series 19 (17 boxes). There is a finding aid available online at https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-290378524/findingaid. The two interviews are held in the Oral History Collection.


Holt, Stephen, A Veritable Dynamo: Lloyd Ross and Australian Labour, 1901–1987, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 1996.