Woman Holmes, Marion Phoebe

Charity Worker
Alternative Names
  • Holmes, Phoebe

Written by Shurlee Swain, Australian Catholic University

Phoebe Holmes was born in Adelaide in 1880, the elder daughter of banker Henry Holmes and his wife Marion. She was educated in Perth where her parents were co-founders of the Ministering Children's League, and active in a range of other social reform causes. Phoebe never married but followed in her mother's footstep, taking over responsibility for her various causes as her health faded. She was secretary of the Ministering Children's League from 1914 -21 and trustee and president of its successor organisation, the Cottesloe Convalescent Home, from 1931-1963.

Like her mother, Phoebe was a leader in the women's movement. A member of the Karrakata Club from 1897 she was president of the National Council of Women from 1925 and local and later national president of the YWCA from 1936. Through these associations she represented Western Australia at both national and international conferences. Such travel, she said, provided her with 'a wider outlook, and a deeper spiritual and mental outlook' (West Australian, 13 November 1934).

Holmes was described on her election to the NCW presidency as possessing 'a charm of manner that is invaluable where community welfare work is concerned, and exceptional administrative ability' (West Australian, 5 June 1925). In 1929 she took particular responsibility for the fitting out of the Council's new tea rooms at the showgrounds in order to 'lighten the labours of the voluntary assistants who annually deny themselves the privilege of seeing the show ... in order to help the National Council' (West Australian, 8 October 1929). She was a firm believer in equal education, and equal pay for equal work. 'Women are only just coming into their own', she observed in 1928. 'The future will show conclusively what we are capable of' (Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950), 4 June 1928).

Holmes died in 1966. As the sole survivor of her family she left a substantial estate, most of which passed to charitable organisations.

Archival Resources

State Library of Western Australia

  • Holmes family papers, 1877, MN 276; State Library of Western Australia. Details

Published Resources

Newspaper Articles

Online Resources

See also