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Women's Service Guilds of Western Australia (1909 - 1997)

From
1909
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
To
1997
Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Summary

Founded 25 March 1909 the Women's Service Guilds of Western Australia formed a core feminist connection for the exchange of feminist strategies and ideas with international feminism for much of the twentieth century. While typified as conservative, the Guilds anticipated many radical trends and were at the forefront of activism which challenged the political and social boundaries that excluded from participating fully in society. They worked to raise the status of women and improve the welfare of children, primarily through legislative reform and initiated a wide range of campaigns on local, national and international levels.

Details

From its inception the Women's Service Guilds shared interests, and in many cases memberships, with other key Western Australian women's organizations agitating for women's rights. The Guilds saw the education of women as the most effective way to improve women's legal status and give them entry into the public sphere. At the local level they lobbied for the direct representation of women in politics, the appointment of women to the judiciary, better conditions for female prisoners, and for women to take key positions in the courts and in welfare work with girls and prostitutes. After many battles they secured the establishment of a maternity hospital that admitted single and married women. In the 1920s the Guilds began a long association with Aboriginal Affairs and campaigned relentlessly to end the injustices experienced by Aborigines, particularly in relation to equality before the law. The Guilds insisted on having a say in shaping government policy and one outcome of many years of political activism was the opening of the first Western Australian Women's Parliament in 1946. Their interests in environmental preservation pre-dated the conscious raising campaigns of the 1980s and 1990s by more than 60 years.
The Women's Service Guilds of Western Australia affiliated with many international feminist organizations and acted as a conduit for the dissemination of ideas and information coming into Australia.

Sources used to compile this entry: Women's Service Guilds of W.A. : founded 1909 and incorporated 1924 (non-party) : golden jubilee 1909-1959 : digest of growth, activities and achievements, milestones in 50 years of community work., Women's Service Guilds of W.A., [Perth], 1959, 13 pp; Caine, Barbara, 'Greenwood, Irene', in Caine, Barbara (ed.), Australian feminism : a companion, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1998, pp. 429-430; Davidson, Dianne, Women on the warpath : feminist of the first wave, University of Western Australia Press, Nedlands, WA, 1997, 320 pp; Greenwood, Irene, 1899-1992. (compiled by), Sixty years of progress : highlights of the history of the Women's Service Guilds of W.A. Inc., 1909-1969 : as presented on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, I. Greenwood, Perth], [1969?]; Reekie, G, 'With Ready Hands and New Brooms : The Women Who Campaigned for Female Suffrage in Western Australia, 1895-1899we', Hecate, vol. ii, no. 1, 1981, pp. 24-35; Reekie, Gail, 'War, Sexuality and Feminism: Perth's Women's Organisations 1938-1945', Historical Studies, vol. 21, no. 85, 1985, pp. 576-591; Rischbieth, Bessie Mabel, 1875-1967., March of Australian women : a record of fity years' struggle for equal citizenship., Paterson Brokensha Pty, Perth, 1964, 177 pp.

Related entries

Member

Membership

Presided

President

Vice President

Archival resources

JS Battye Library of West Australian History, State Library of Western Australia

  • Dame Florence Cardell-Oliver [photograph], 007365D; JS Battye Library of West Australian History, State Library of Western Australia. Details
  • Eliza Elsie Morgan Papers, 1876 - 1985, ACC 3509A; JS Battye Library of West Australian History, State Library of Western Australia. Details
  • Isabel Johnston [photograph], 007399D; JS Battye Library of West Australian History, State Library of Western Australia. Details
  • Johnston, Isabella Jane, 1891-1976 Papers, 1909 - 1991, ACC 3926A.; Johnston, Isabella Jane (1891 - 1976); JS Battye Library of West Australian History, State Library of Western Australia. Details
  • Miss Sheila McClemans [photograph], 007364D; JS Battye Library of West Australian History, State Library of Western Australia. Details
  • Women's Service Guilds of Western Australia Records, 1896 - 1959, ACC 1949A; Women's Service Guilds of Western Australia (1909 - 1997); JS Battye Library of West Australian History, State Library of Western Australia. Details
  • Women's Service Guilds of Western Australia Records, 1909 - 1992, ACC 2530A, 4343A-4347A; Women's Service Guilds of Western Australia (1909 - 1997); JS Battye Library of West Australian History, State Library of Western Australia. Details
  • Women's Service Guilds of Western Australia Records, 1931 - 1968, ACC 2626A; Women's Service Guilds of Western Australia (1909 - 1997); JS Battye Library of West Australian History, State Library of Western Australia. Details

Denise Tallis

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

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

http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0803b.htm

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