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Phillip Adler (1874–1962)

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This entry is from People Australia

Phillip Adler (1874-1962) blacksmith, trade union official and Labor activist 

Birth: 6 August 1874 at Patricks Plains (Singleton), New South Wales, son of German-born parents George Nicholas Adler (1833-1906), a farmer, from Viernheim, Bergstrasse, Hesse, and Maria Susannah, née Schubert (1845-1905) from Käferthal, Baden-Wurttemberg. Marriage: 13 November 1901 in St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, New South Wales, to native-born Margaret Teresa Donovan (1875-1957). They had seven daughters and one son. Death: 6 August 1962 at Naremburn, Sydney, NSW. Religion: Catholic. 

  • Reputedly served apprenticeship as blacksmith at Clyde Engineering Co.
  • Founding president of the Blacksmiths’ Society of NSW in December 1909. Soon elected secretary and held office until 1918. With A. C. Willis presided at various conferences in 1916 and 1917 to promote the formation of “one big union” and support strikers.
  • President, Industrial Section, NSW branch of the Australian Labor Party, during World War I. Member of the ALP executive in 1918. With Willis, May Matthews, Gavin Sutherland, James Graves and Arthur Rae was NSW delegate to interstate Labour conference at Perth in June that year.
  • Resigned as union secretary in October 1918, to become organiser of the NSW Alliance for the suppression of the liquor traffic. Became an active prohibibionist.
  • Unsuccessful candidate for ALP preselection for the Balmain seat in January 1922, claiming he was the victim of a campaign by the liquor interest. In April he joined the breakaway, anti-Communist, Majority Australian Labour Party, with J. H. Catts, Walter P. J. Skelton and others.
  • Became a fruiterer at Balmain. May have been the Philip Adler, blacksmith, who lived at Araluen, NSW, between 1933 and 1954.
  • Cause of death: coronary occlusion.

V. G. Childe, How Labour Governs, (F. B. Smith, ed. Parkville, 1964); Christopher Cunneen, William John McKell: boilermaker, premier, governor-general, (Sydney 2000), pp 36 & 41.

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Citation details

'Adler, Phillip (1874–1962)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 15 July 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


6 August, 1874
Singleton, New South Wales, Australia


6 August, 1962 (aged 88)
Naremburn, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Key Organisations
Political Activism