Australian Women's Register

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St John, Dorothy (1907 - 1984)

Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Alternative Names
  • St John, Dorrie


Dorothy St John was an amateur photographer who was trained by her father, a street photographer. Her photographs record the everyday life in rural Western Australia.


Dorothy St John was born in 1907 to William St John and Catherine St John. She developed an interest in photography at an early age and was taught by her father who, on his return from the Boer War, worked as a street photographer in Perth. Her mother was skilled in needlework and this may well have influenced Dorothy in her own work.

Dorothy brought her own camera, a Kodak Brownie Junior 6-20 and a developing/printing kit out of her own savings when she was fifteen years old.

In 1911 the family moved to Ongerup, near Albany, WA, where under the Closer Settlement Scheme they were able to buy land. The whole family worked hard to build up a farm that they named 'Hazelwood.' St. John recalled that '[t]here were so few interests in Ongerup. Perhaps the best memories …were all the annual picnics at Easter and Christmas when all the settlers in the area would gather' (Hall 33).

Photography was an expressive outlet for St John; using her camera, Dorothy recorded the world around her, the land, life on the farm, and social events such as the Christmas and Easter annual picnics.

In 1926, Dorothy St John left Hazelwood at the age of 19, hoping to head to New Zealand. However, with the onset of the Depression the family lost the farm, so St John stayed in Australia (remaining in Melbourne) and gave up photography.


Dorothy St John used a Kodak Brownie Junior 6-20 and a developing/printing kit.


Private Collections

Toowoomba Camera Club collection, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland


c. 1922 - 1926
Active as amateur photographer. Location: Western Australia.

Sources used to compile this entry: Hall, Barbara and Mather, Jenni, Australian Women Photographers 1840 - 1960, Greenhouse Publications, Richmond, Victoria, 1986, 164 pp. Includes the following photographs by Dorothy St John, Group at 'Hazelwood' - 'Queenie', Esther St John, Hazel St John, Ruby St John, Alec Walker, c.1920, p. 33; Needilup Road with 'Queenie' Between the shafts, c.1922, Toowoomba Camera Club, State Library of Queensland, John Oxley Library, p. 34; New Year's Day Picnic, Needilup, c.1922, p. 34..

Anne Maxwell (with Morfia Grondas and Lucy Van)

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