200 Australian Women

(1901-1983) producer

Kathleen Mary Robinson (1901-1983), producer, was born in Melbourne, the only child of Mary Louise (born McKay) and Matthew John McWilliam Robinson. Her mother was a niece of millionaire pastoralist (Sir) Samuel McCaughey and her father was McCaughey's general manager, and in 1912 a partner in the purchase of McCaughey's 'Toorale', 'Dunlop' and 'Nocoleche' Western Division leases. Matthew also owned 'Oakhurst' station near Wyalong.

(1902-1981) welfare worker

Ella Simon (1902-1981), justice of the peace, was born on the edge of town, Taree, New South Wales, in 1902. Her mother was Aboriginal and her father was white; they were not married and her mother's parents Susan and George Russell reared her as their own child. Ella went to school on Purfleet Aboriginal reserve in the school which her grandfather had helped build and which doubled as a church on Sundays. Ella only went to school until she was twelve years old. She left school in 1914 because her grandmother could not afford to keep her as her grandfather had died.

(1902-1962) busdriver

Sylvia Jessie Catherine Birdseye (1902-1962), busdriver, was born at Port Augusta, South Australia, on 26 January 1902, daughter of Elizabeth Ann (born Kirwan) and Charles De Witt Merrill, station hand. Sylvia was a teenage dancing partner of Sydney Birdseye, a son of Alfred Birdseye, who in 1919 moved his family to Adelaide where he opened a bus service between Adelaide and Mannum. Sydney studied automotive engineering at the (then) School of Mines, Adelaide.

(1902-1974) rebel

Beatrice Miles (1902-1973), rebel, was born at Ashfield, Sydney, on 17 September 1902, third surviving of five children of Maria Louisa (born Binnington) and William John Miles, public accountant. She was educated at Abbotsleigh School. An independent income from her grandmother's estate enabled her to escape the violent scenes that characterised her relationship with her father. She enrolled in Arts at the University of Sydney but discontinued after a year 'because they did not teach enough Australian stuff'. Conflict with her father over her lifestyle and sexual 'freedom' continued.

(1902-1983) novelist

Christina Ellen Stead (1902-1983), novelist, was born on 17 July 1902 in Rockdale, Sydney, the only child of Ellen (born Butters) and David Stead, marine biologist. Ellen died before Christina's second birthday. In 1907 David married Ada Gibbons and they moved to Bexley, where Ada had six children. Christina helped care for them but hated the endless domestic chores. Her novel, The Man who Loved Children, draws on this period of her life.

(1905-1979) Aboriginal cook and carer

Hetty Perkins (c.1905 - 1979) was an Aranda woman from Central Australia. Her date of birth is unknown but was probably around 1905 as she recalled the appearance of Halley's comet when she was a child. Her mother was an Aboriginal woman known as Nellie and her father was Harry Perkins, a European who worked on the construction of the Oodnadatta-Alice Springs railway line.

(1905-1977) feminist

Bessie Jean Guthrie (1905-1977), designer, publisher and feminist, was born in Glebe, Sydney, on 2 July 1905, daughter of Jane Elizabeth (born Thompson) and James Buchanan Mitchell. She was reared and privately educated by her aunts, Janet Forbes Mackenzie Mitchell and Margaret Crichton Mitchell, fiercely Scottish spinster schoolteachers and lifelong companions who held firm beliefs on the education of women. 'Never iron men's shirts', said Aunt Janet.

(1908-1986) politician

Annabelle Jane Mary Rankin (1908-1986) senator, was born on 28 July 1908 in Brisbane, daughter of Annabelle Davidson (born Thompson) and Colin Dunlop Wilson Rankin, cane grower and Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly. Annabelle attended state schools at Childers and Howard and the Glennie Memorial School, Toowoomba. She returned to Howard, where her father had become manager of Queensland Collieries Co. Ltd; there she was involved in church activities and Girl Guides.

(1904-1962) Aboriginal activist

Daisy Bindi, Aboriginal activist, also known as Mumaring, a Nungamurda, was born probably around 1904 near Jigalong, 220 km south of Nullagine, on the Western Australian edge of the Gibson Desert. As a child she worked on 'Ethel Creek' station where she learned to wash, iron and do general housework and also to ride and manage horses. She did not learn to read and write and remained functionally illiterate until her death.

(1909-1986) botanist

Margaret Blackwood (1909-1986), botanist, teacher and administrator, ('Blacky' to friends and irreverent students), was born on 26 April 1909, youngest daughter of Robert Leslie and Muriel Pearl Blackwood. She was educated at Melbourne Church of England Girls Grammar School and the Universities of Melbourne and Cambridge.

(1909-1983) peace activist

Roma Catherine Gilchrist (1909-1983), feminist and peace activist, was born Tuffin in England on 1 September 1909. The family emigrated with little money, moved to the south-west of Western Australia, where they lived in tents and a bark shelter, before returning to Perth where her father worked on the trams. He bought a farm near Perth but failed to make a living from it and after six years moved back to the city.

(1909-1983) athlete

Clara Decima Hamilton (1909-1983), athlete, was born on 9 September 1909 at Tammin, a wheat belt town in Western Australia, adopted child of Elizabeth and Francis Norman. She was noted for her athletic and track skills while a schoolgirl at Perth College and later, while working as a private secretary, as a member of Perth hockey and surf clubs.

(1908-1979) botanist

Joyce Winifred Vickery (1908-1979), botanist and conservationist, was born on 15 December 1908, youngest of four children of Elizabeth Alice Adeline (born Rossbach) and George Begg Vickery. She was educated at Methodist Ladies' College, Burwood, and the University of Sydney graduating BSc with honours (1931) and MSc (1933). During postgraduate study in the Botany Department she published on insectivorous plants, researched aspects of seed germination in grasses, and was president of the Biological Society.

(1912-1981) physicist

Ruby Violet Hall (1912-1981), physicist, was born on 28 May 1912 at Grafton, New South Wales, daughter of Amy and Cyril Hermann Payne Scott, accountant. She attended Fort St Girls' High and the University of Sydney, graduating BSc in 1933 with first class honours in mathematics and physics. She shared the Deas Thomson Scholarship for Physics III and the Walter Burfitt scholarship for physics with R. H. Healey and received the Norbert Quirk prize for Mathematics III.

(1914-1971) mathematician

Hanna Neumann (1914-1971), mathematician, was born in Berlin on 12 February 1914, youngest of three children of Katharina and Hermann Conrad von Caemmerer, archivist and historian. He was killed in the 1914-18 war and the family survived on a small war pension, supplemented by part-time earnings; Hanna coached younger school children from the age of thirteen. She was educated at Augusta- Victoria-Schule, entering Berlin University in 1932. She made friends with a group of young mathematicians including Bernhard Neumann, later to become her husband.

(1914-1958) historian

Margaret Loch Kiddle (1914-1958), historian, was born in South Yarra, Melbourne, on 10 September 1914, daughter of Mauna Loa (born Burrett) and John Beacham Kiddle, solicitor. After a hesitant academic beginning, she matured to become one of Victoria's most distinguished historians.

(1916-1978) scriptwriter

Barbara Mary Vernon (1916-1978), scriptwriter, was born in Inverell, New South Wales, on 25 July 1916, fourth and last child of Constance Emma (born Barling) and Murray Menzies Vernon, medical practitioner. She was educated at New England Girls' School, Armidale, where social graces were predominant on the curriculum. In 1945-46, following service with the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, she read psychology at the University of Queensland under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme.

(1917-1979) writer and teacher

Helen Gwynneth Palmer (1917-1979), writer, teacher and political activist, was born on 9 May 1917 younger daughter of Nettie (q.v.) and Vance Palmer. She spent her childhood in the Dandenongs near Melbourne and at Caloundra in Queensland. In 1934 she completed her secondary education at Presbyterian Ladies' College in Melbourne. After spending a year in London with her parents, she went on scholarship to Melbourne University, graduating in 1939 BA and DipEd. She taught in Victoria until 1942 when she joined the Women's Australian Auxiliary Airforce, working in their education division.

(1922-1973) OPAL executive

Caroline Lilian Archer (1922-1978), executive officer of OPAL, was born at Cherbourg Aboriginal Reserve, an illegitimate daughter of Lilian Brown (later Fogarty) and a white father. Her grandparents, whose tribal territory has been variously described as around Charters Towers and near Charleville, had been brought to the reserve by police after refusing to allow the family to be split up: the police had intended the men to work on one property and the others on another.

(1932-1983) dancer

Kathleen Gorham (1932-1983), dancer, was born of English-Irish parentage in Sydney. She was convent educated and commenced ballet lessons at the age of seven, later studying under Lorraine Norton and Leon Kellaway. At the age of fifteen she was invited by Edouard Borovansky to join the Borovansky Company then in Melbourne. Despite fiery clashes from time to time, he carefully nurtured Kathleen's career and her belief 'it was my duty to dance here and help him build Australian ballet.'