Woman Parker, Evelyn Helena (1907 - 1993)

OBE, JP, Freeman of the City of Subiaco

Hangkow, China
Western Australia, Australia
Mayor and Teacher

Written by Deborah Towns, Swinburne University

Evelyn Parker was born in 1907 in Hangkow, China where her parents James and Mary (nee Doherty) were missionaries. She migrated to Australia with her family in 1921 and lived in Sydney and Perth. Her father had died in 1920 and she saw her mother as 'one of the pioneers' of the world who decided to bring her young family to Australia. Parker attended schools in China and Sydney before finishing her schooling at the Anglican girls' school, Perth College. After gaining her Leaving Certificate she was a teaching monitor at Brookton. Here she found that women monitors had to teach the 'three s's', sewing, singing and Scripture as males didn't like doing any of them' (Rumley,2002:61). From 1928 to 1929 she completed her Teaching Certificate at Claremont Teachers' College.

From 1930 to 1951 Parker taught in many schools including Stratherne, Jacketup, Marradong, Byford, Carlisle and Cottesloe, beginning with eight years in rural schools, in most of which she was the only teacher. At Byford, she and a monitor taught between them 120 children. In 1951 she was promoted to first mistress at Subiaco primary School where she stayed until retirement in 1967. While teaching, Parker was elected as a Councillor of the City of Subiaco in 1953. She served for 24 years until 1977 and was Mayor from 1975 to 1977, the first woman in Western Australia to undertake this role, and sharing with Dr Ella Stack of Darwin City the honour of being Australia's first women mayors.

Parker taught for forty years. Although the Education Department did not give awards to women teachers she received community awards for her dedicated work and civil service. She was made a Justice of the Peace and gained an OBE in 1977. In 1975 she was named Western Australia's Citizen of the Year and in 1986 became a Freeman of the City of Subiaco. In 1990 the Evelyn H Parker Library was named in her honour. She died in 1993.

Archival Resources

State Library of Western Australia

  • Interview with Evelyn Helena Parker, Mayor of Subiaco [sound recording] / [interviewed by Gail O'Hanlon]., 1992 - 1993, OH2525; State Library of Western Australia. Details

Published Resources

Book Sections

  • Rumley, Hilary and Parker, Evelyn, 'Interview with Evelyn Parker by Hilary Rumley', in Lynne Hunt and Janina Trotman (eds), Claremont Cameos, Women Teachers and the Building of Social Capital in Australia, Interview Transcript, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia, 2002, pp. 59 - 70. Details

See also