Australian Women's Register

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Kirk, Maria (Marie) Elizabeth (1855 - 1928)

Welfare worker and Women's rights activist


Marie Kirk was a leading figure in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union both in Victoria and nationally and helped to establish the Victorian Union in 1887. She held numerous executive positions in the organisation. She was also a strong supporter of women's rights, a member of the Victorian Women's Franchise League, and helped to establish the National Council of Women of Victoria in 1902. She supported equal pay, raising the age of consent for girls, and also took a keen interest in the welfare of women prisoners and in the kindergarten movement.


Kirk (nee Sutton) was born in London in 1855 and married Frank Kirk (an ironmonger and later bootmaker) in 1878. Reared as a Quaker, she worked as a missionary in London's 'slums' and became active in the British Women's Temperance Association. In 1886 she represented this group at a meeting held in Toronto to organise the World Woman's Christian Temperance Union. She moved to Victoria that same year.

Sources used to compile this entry: Hyslop, Anthea, 'Temperate Feminists: Marie Kirk and the WCTU', in Double Time: Women in Victoria - 150 Years, Penguin, Melbourne, 1985; Radi, Heather (ed.), 200 Australian Women: A Redress Anthology, Women's Redress Press, Sydney, 1988, 258 pp. Also available at

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Related Cultural Artefacts

Archival resources

Public Record Office Victoria

  • Women's Suffrage Petition (Monster Petition), 1891, VPRS 3253/P0, Unit 851; Public Record Office Victoria. Details

The University of Melbourne Archives

  • Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Victoria, 1887 - 1999, 101/85; The Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Victoria (1885 - ); The University of Melbourne Archives. Details

Jane Carey

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

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

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