About the Australian Women's Register
The searchable-on-line Australian Women's Register is a valuable and growing source of biographical data about Australian women and their organisations, with hyper-links to the archival repositories and libraries where their records are held and to other sources of information. Women and women's organisations are listed alphabetically. You'll also be able to search by functional classification, for example, 'P' covers physicists, politicians, pharmacists, pacifists and many more.
The redevelopment of this website and the creation of a pre-register interface were made possible by the support of the Australian Research Council's Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities Scheme. Project Number: LE0882889. Title: History, Archives and New Technologies: Developing the Australian Women's Archives Project.
Preserving our history
Records about women provide the basis of all the work of the Australian Women's Archive Project. To ensure records are available in the future, AWAP promotes the keeping and care of personal records and encourages individuals and organisations to deposit records appropriately in available archives and libraries.
National institutions preserve the papers of well known women and significant organisations. The AWAP register will tell you that the National Library of Australia holds the archives of Judith Wright (1915-2000) poet and conservationist, the John Oxley Library in the State Library of Queensland holds the records of the Queensland Country Women's Association from 1922 onwards and the Mortlock Library at the State Library of South Australia holds the papers of Dame Roma Mitchell (1913-2000) the first woman governor of an Australian state.
But there are many smaller institutions with fascinating archival collections. The Warringah Library's local studies collection at Dee Why NSW holds the records of surfboard rider and swimming instructor Isabel Letham (1899-1995). The Geelong City Council's Heritage Centre (Vic) holds the records of local Girl Guides groups from the 1930s - 1960s. The Charles Sturt University Regional Archives in Wagga, NSW holds the records of the Coolamon Mothers' Union (1947-85) and the Italian Historical Society (Vic) holds the records of Lena Santospirito (1895-1993) a community worker and migrant community advocate.
If you are the custodian of the papers of a woman or a women's organisations, AWAP encourages you to consider preserving them in a suitable archives or library for future generations.
The AWAP Executive Officer can help you to find a suitable collecting institution. You can also find all the archives and libraries whose records are listed on the Australian Women's Register by browsing under Repositories. There is a directory of archives on the Australian Society of Archivists website.
If you prefer to keep your family or organisational records yourself, it is still possible to make researchers aware of them by allowing AWAP to list them on the Register as in 'Private Hands (contact Australian Women's Archives Project)'. AWAP will pass on any research enquiries for such records to the nominated contact person. You are welcome to discuss details of such arrangements with the AWAP Executive Officer.
Advice on looking after records and archives
If you need advice on storing and preserving your records at home you may find it useful to refer to:
- Caring for your wartime memorabilia prepared by the Department of Veterans' Affairs
- Preservation information sheets provided by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Library
If you need advice on looking after the records of an organisation you may find it useful to consult:
- Preserving Australia's Documentary Heritage - A Starter Kit for Community Groups prepared by the National Library of Australia
- Keep it for the Future! - How to set up small community archives which may be purchased through the National Archives of Australia
Make a donation
If you would like to make a donation to further the work of the Australian Women's Archives Project, you may do so through the National Foundation for Australian Women. Donations are tax deductible, and may be made online via the website of the National Foundation for Australian Women.