Australian Women's Register

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

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    May Holman [in France], 1935
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Holman, Mary (May) Alice (1893 - 1939)

Born
18 July 1893
Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia
Died
20 March 1939
Western Australia
Occupation
Parliamentarian
Alternative Names
  • Gardiner, May (married name)

Summary

May Holman was the first Labor Party woman parliamentarian in Australia. Representing the Legislative Assembly seat of Forrest, she was also the first Labor woman MP to serve more than ten years in parliament.

Details

May Holman was the eldest of nine children of John Barkell Holman, miner, and Katherine Mary Holman (nee Rowe). The family lived at Broken Hill, New South Wales, before moving to Cue in Western Australia. May was educated at the Sacred Heart Convent in Perth. On leaving school, she found employment at the Perth Trades Hall and the Westralian Worker. In 1914 she married Peter Joseph Gardiner, a Labor Party member for the State parliament, but the marriage could not withstand their varied professional commitments and ended in divorce in 1920.

Holman's mother was an active member of Labor women's organisations in Perth. Her father was a Labor politician and member of the Timber Workers' Union. After his death in 1925, May Holman became secretary of the Union and won preselection for her father's seat, Forrest, where timber was the dominant industry. She was instrumental in formulating the Timber Industries Regulation Act in 1926. Holman retained her seat through four elections. She was president of the Labor Women's Central Executive from 1927; secretary of the Parliamentary Labor Party from 1933; and member of the royal commission into sanitation and slum clearance in Perth in 1938.

May Holman died in a car accident on the day that she was re-elected to Parliament in 1939. She was buried in Karrakatta cemetery.

Sources used to compile this entry: May Holman Papers, 1893 - 1939, COMAP56; JS Battye Library of West Australian History, State Library of Western Australia; Radi, Heather (ed.), 200 Australian Women: A Redress Anthology, Women's Redress Press, Sydney, 1988, 258 pp. Also available at http://nla.gov.au/nla.arc-78644.

Archival resources

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

  • Holman Family Papers, 1893 - 1965, MN 405; Holman, May; JS Battye Library of West Australian History, State Library of Western Australia. Details
  • Interview with Sheila Moiler (nee Holman) interviewed by Jenny Carter, 1916 - 2003, OH1289; JS Battye Library of West Australian History, State Library of Western Australia. Details
  • May Holman Papers, 1893 - 1939, COMAP56; JS Battye Library of West Australian History, State Library of Western Australia. Details

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • Papers of various Australian women, MS 842; Rapke, Julia; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

Digital resources

Title
May Holman [in France]
Type
Image
Date
1935

Details

Barbara Lemon

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

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

http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE3701b.htm

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