Protests, activism & dissent in Victoria

Research the history of activism, protests, rallies and campaigners in Victoria using pamphlets, posters, badges, images, articles, interviews and books.


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Kylie Best
Contact me via our online reference service citing my name and the title of this guide


The State Library of Victoria collects a variety of materials relating to:

  • activism
  • trade unions
  • environmental groups
  • feminist organisations
  • anti-war groups
  • student organisations
  • anti-poverty groups
  • grassroots campaigns and campaigners
  • other radical, dissident, advocacy or protest groups

A highlight is our Riley & Ephemera Collection, which includes pamphlets, posters, badges and other ephemeral materials. The bias of this collection is left-wing, reflecting the position of its founding donor, Fred Riley, and the nature of the organizations who rely on promoting their causes through ephemeral items like leaflets. However attempts are made to collect from all points of view.

Our collections are especially strong in these subject areas:

  • abortion
  • alternative media
  • alternative society
  • animal rights
  • Communism
  • conscription
  • conservation
  • disarmament
  • education
  • energy
  • environment
  • housing
  • health
  • homosexuality
  • immigration
  • land rights
  • May Day
  • Middle East
  • nuclear war
  • peace
  • public transport
  • racism
  • republicanism
  • strikes
  • unemployment
  • uranium
  • women's rights

There are also ephemera files for most suburbs of Melbourne and many Victorian towns, which contain material relating either to:

  • local issues
  • wider issues in which residents' groups of the particular suburb or town formed to participate at a local level.

Another significant component of the collection are ephemera files of material for many other countries, particularly those countries which have undergone political struggles that have engendered local support groups, for example East Timor, Chile, Greece, El Salvador, Afghanistan.

The Library also holds a wide range of material relating to governments, politicians and political parties in the government and law and manuscript collections, as well as the Riley & Ephemera Collection. This guide does not cover how to research political parties and politicians, but it will help you discover who supported and opposed their proposals and decisions.

Online databases

Feminist poster

Feminist poster with black and white image of woman, overlaid with pink writing, Yandell Walton, Rebecca McIntosh & Dell Stewart, I own MY BITS!,

Yandell Walton, Rebecca McIntosh & Dell Stewart, I own MY BITS!, H2000.50/10