Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

Skip to content


Fitzherbert, Margaret
Liberal women : Federation to 1949
Federation Press, Sydney, 2004, 305 pp

Liberal Women: Federation to 1949 is the first detailed account of the women who were an integral part of the political parties that preceded the modern Liberal Party of Australia, and played a crucial role in its formation.

Liberal Women explains the origins and work of the liberal women's leagues. These were political organisations, just for women, that emerged just after the 1902 federal election - the first federal election at which all (white) Australian women were able to vote. The leagues rapidly grew in strength and within a decade, tens of thousands of women were part of their distinctive pattern of political activism.

The liberal women's leagues first became a critical player in liberal politics during the era of Alfred Deakin. Their contribution to liberal politics continued during the years of the Nationalist Party, and then the United Australia Party. Liberal Women provides the most detailed account so far of the role of women in the formation of the modern Liberal Party, and shows their influence in the new party's radical pitch for women's votes in the late 1940s.

With the organisational strength and the political training the leagues provided, liberal women were political pioneers: as power-brokers and factional warriors; as candidates for office; and as members of parliament.

With a wealth of biographical detail and relying on extensive primary research, much of it previously unpublished, this book is an authorative account of liberal women in the first half of the twentieth century.

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

© Copyright in The Australian Women's Register is owned by the Australian Women's Archives Project
and vested in each of the authors in respect of their contributions from 2000

The Australian Women's Register is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

The Australian Women's Register is published quarterly by the Australian Women's Archives Project
ISSN 2207-3124