GRUNT: RMIT, the Working Men’s College & the 8 Hour Day
Born of workers’ struggle, RMIT began its life as the Working Men’s College in 1887.
Born of workers’ struggle, RMIT began its life as the Working Men’s College in 1887. The legacy of the Stonemason’s victory in 1856 – winning the right to 8 Hours Labour, 8 Hours Recreation and 8 Hours Rest – was that many workers were able to pursue other activities within their working week. Self-improvement through education was a high priority, and the Working Men’s College prospered, offering evening courses in trades training and general education. The Working Men’s College took as its motto “Perita Manus, Mens Exculta” (“A skilled hand, A civilised mind,”) and in 1887 announced its goal “to improve the general and technical education of those who work.”
GRUNT: RMIT, the Working Men’s College & the 8 Hour Day examines the relationship between early education and labour in Victoria. Historically, Grunts are the undifferentiated workers – the foot soldiers of war and the labourers of industry. GRUNT seeks to make visible the struggle of Melbourne’s workers to attain education, and celebrates the crucial role they played in the successful founding and development of the Working Men’s College. Drawing on the strengths of the RMIT University Archives, its collections of photographs, books and objects from its formative years, the exhibition illustrates and examines the educational experience of the first students at RMIT.