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Farewell Mary Owen – thanks from all of us for the legacy you helped to create.

Date: 27 March 2017

Melbourne feminist and social justice advocate, Mary Owen, passed away on 23 March 2017. A founding member of almost every feminist organisation to have made a difference to the lives of Australian women in the late twentieth century, Mary was a woman who effected change – and made Australia a better, more equal place for all of us coming after her. She had a strong sense of the importance of history as a motivating force for activism; the Australian Women’s Archives Project began as a community based response by the National Foundation for Australian Women to a request from her for help with conserving the records of her long and varied contribution to public life.

Mary was a foundation member of EMILY’s List. She was also the founding Coordinator of The Working Women’s Centre Melbourne, 1975-1986, when it was absorbed into the Australian Council of Trade Unions. She was a staff member of AAESDA (Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors & Draughtsmen of Australia), 1965 -1975; a member of Women’s Electoral Lobby from 1972; and a member of La Trobe University Council 1983-1990. She was appointed Deputy Chancellor of La Trobe University 1989.

Vale Mary Owen – a feisty, strong feminist who was an inspiration to us all. The Australian Women’s Archives Project thanks you.

Her Place: Women in the West exhibition open 7-31 March 2017.

Date: 15 March 2017

Her Place: Women in the West honours the lives and contributions of women in Melbourne’s west. It celebrates the work, achievements and historical significance of women through moving image, photographs, biographical accounts and personal artefacts. The exhibition tells the stories of ten women from the western suburbs of Melbourne. These women have contributed to Australian society at both national and local levels through their work as artists and activists, writers and scientists, businesswomen, lawyers and community leaders. The group includes a former state premier and the AFL’s first female coach.

To find out more, including the schedule of associated public program, please visit the website.

The Invisible Farmer Project is launched! Pay tribute to a fantastic farm woman you know!

Date: 15 March 2017

Invisible Farmer is the largest ever study of Australian women on the land. This three year project (2017-2019) is funded by the Australian Research Council and involves a nation-wide partnership between rural communities, academics, government and cultural organisations.

A key feature of the project is a call for tributes from ABC Rural. To pay tribute to a farm woman that you know, please head over to ABC Open. By sharing your story you will acknowledge and celebrate the extraordinary, creative and vital role that women in play in agriculture and farm communities across Australia.


Happy #IWD2017 everyone! #BeBoldForChange

Date: 8 March 2017

This morning, our colleague, Dr Rachel Buchanan, curator of the Germaine Greer archive at the University of Melbourne, gave thanks to ‘the women who keep records, protect memory and who care for archives’.

On this day, as we focus on positive stories of achievement by women, we are reminded of the vital work that we ‘memory protectors’ do! Social media is alive with the sounds of celebration, telling us how far we’ve come, what we have achieved, and how we can achieve more. But understanding this change across time would not be possible without the work of the women who keep records. A perusal of the The Encylopedia of Women and Leadership in a Century of Australian Democracy provides us with ample evidence of many improvements to the status of Australian white women since Federation. Archivists provide the pay dirt of historical story-telling.

Nor would we understand the unacceptable historical continuities without their vigilance. How long have we been banging on about the gender pay gap? Muriel Heagney, who dedicated most of her adult life to the pursuit of equal pay for women, died in poverty in 1974. One can only imagine how angry she would be at the slow rate of improvement, were she alive today. Dr Rosemary Francis, a long time supporter and employee of the Australian Women’s Archive Project, has dedicated much of her professional life as an historian, tracking down the records that support her research into the life of this extraordinary activist.

Without records, women’s stories are lost and their achievements are overlooked. So today, as we celebrate the lives of women, let’s give thanks to those who work hard, for relatively little pay, to keep them safe. Happy International Women’s Day 2017!

Follow this link to read some records of an important early twentieth century activist for women, Bessie Rischbieth, as she explains the importance of International Women’s Day in 1946.




Join us at PROV on IWD – March 8, 2017! Women and Welfare in Colonial Victoria

Date: 28 February 2017

PROV Lunchtime Seminar: International Women’s Day

Time: 1.00-2.15pm on 8 March 2017

Place: Conference room, PROV, 99 Shiel Street, North Melbourne.

Join us at Public Record Office Victoria for our annual International Women’s Day seminar, on 8 March 2017.

This year, the focus is on Women and Welfare in Colonial Victoria, with guest speaker Dr Nell Musgrove (ACU) addressing the topic of ‘Women creating kinship care’. Dr Musgrove will consider the correspondence files of the Chief Secretary that reveal that how in the later 19th century mothers, aunts and grandmothers wrote to the Neglected Children’s Department  requesting that they themselves be made the foster parents of children placed in care.  Nell Musgrove is author of The Scars Remain (2013).

Other panelists include:

Helen Morgan: (Research Fellow, eScholarship Research Centre, University of Melbourne)

Charlie Farrugia: (Senior Collections Advisor, PROV)

Nikki Henningham: (CEO, AWAP)

Chair:  Dr Rosemary Francis (Research Fellow, SHAPS, University of Melbourne)

Inquiries: Rosemary Francis:

This is a free event but bookings are recommended.