Woman Gregory, Jennifer Anne (Jenny) (1946 - )

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Alternative Names
  • Gleeson, Jennifer Anne (Jenny) Maiden Name (Maiden)

Written by Sharon M. Harrison, The University of Melbourne

Jenny Gregory is a leader in the history profession, who has contributed to Australian history, especially urban history, planning history, heritage studies and Western Australian history.

Jenny Gregory was born in Melbourne in 1946. She is the only child of Philip Gleeson and Anne Gleeson (née Hannah). Gregory's father was a businessman, coming from a family of bank managers, stockbrokers, and stock and station agents in Adelaide. He was a fighter pilot with the RAAF during World War II, crash landing in Malaya, being hospitalised in Singapore and narrowly escaping by sea when the Japanese forces invaded. Her great great grandfather, Hampton Carroll Gleeson, was the son of an attorney-at-law practising in Limerick and Dublin. After his father's death, he was brought up by his uncle, Edward Burton Gleeson who, with another brother, had joined the British Army serving in India. After winning the Calcutta Sweepstakes, E.B. Gleeson migrated to South Australia in 1838 on the Emerald Isle with his brother, their wives and children, a retinue of Indian servants and a portable house. E.B. Gleeson had been granted land at present-day Beaumont, but went bankrupt. He travelled north to take up pastoral land, founding and naming the town of Clare and becoming its first mayor. His homestead Inchiquin is listed with the National Trust. H.C. Gleeson married Susan McEllister. He became a stock dealer, mining entrepreneur and briefly MLA for Flinders 1870-1871. After his wife's death in 1887 he moved to Sydney, where he founded the Waverley Brewery (later bought out by Reschs).

Gregory's mother, who trained as a theatre sister in Melbourne, met her father when she nursed him in the RAAF Pearce hospital in Western Australia in 1943. Her mother's family had migrated to Melbourne from Scotland in 1926. Her father, William Hannah, a tailor, was born in Northern Ireland, but grew up in Dunblane, Scotland, where his father was a calico printer. William married Agnes Johnston in Glasgow. He joined the British Army in World War I, but became a prisoner-of-war in Turkey after being injured in battle and lying out for three days and nights. On his release three years later he was not in good health and the family decided to emigrate to Australia. In Melbourne he worked for one of the city's high class tailoring businesses, while Agnes first sold lingerie door-to-door and then set up Heather Sportswear, a highly successful ladies fashion store in Australia Arcade in the city.

Following the family's move to Sydney in 1952, Gregory attended Ascham School, Darling Point. On completing her Leaving Certificate, she enrolled at the National Art School, Darlinghurst. With another family move in 1965, she transferred to art classes at Perth Technical College. The following year, she joined the Department of Labour and National Service, working as an Employment Officer in the Women's and the Youth Sections of the Commonwealth Employment Service in Perth and Fremantle and then running a scheme to assist women returning to the workforce to retrain. At that time the Commonwealth Public Service was encouraging its staff to undertake university training and she enrolled part-time in a Bachelor of Arts degree at The University of Western Australia (UWA). She married Ross Gregory in 1969 and left the Public Service before the birth of their daughter, Kate (1974), and son, Sean (1976).

Gregory graduated with a BA (Hons) in History from UWA in 1982 and went on to write a doctoral thesis on the Manufacture of Middle Class Suburbia (1989), using several Perth suburbs as case studies. She then accepted a commission to write a history of Scotch College, Claremont, which won the WA History Foundation's award for the best first book in Western Australian History in 1997. During her doctoral studies she worked as a casual tutor in Australian history at UWA and in 1989 was appointed Director of UWA's Centre for Western Australian History, a part-time position. Between 1991 and 1997 she also held contract lecturing positions at the University of Western Australia, teaching Australian, West Australian and urban history, and winning a UWA Excellence in Teaching Award in 1993.

In 1998 Gregory was appointed Director of UWA Press. Under her leadership, UWAP published more than a hundred books, many making a vital contribution to debate about the environment, history and culture of Western Australia and a number winning international, national and regional awards. She served as Chair of Publish Australia (200-2002) and was a committee member of the Australian Publishers Association (2002-2006).

She returned to the Faculty of Arts in 2006, chairing first the Philosophy and then the History Discipline Group, until her appointment as Head of the School of Humanities in 2009, a position she still holds. She was also acting Head of the School of Music (2009-2011). She was appointed Winthrop Professor of History at UWA in 2011. She has held short visiting fellowships at the University of Reading, the University of Leicester and the University of Liverpool. She has been a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society since 2001.

Gregory has published widely in the fields of urban and planning history and heritage studies. Her books include Building a Tradition: a history of Scotch College 1897-1996 (1997), Claremont: a history with Geoffrey Bolton (1999), City of Light: a history of Perth since the fifties (2003) which was acclaimed internationally as 'impressive ... fluently written ... not beholden to any vested interest'. She has also edited a number of collections; Western Australia Between the Wars (1990), On the Homefront: Western Australia and World War II (1996), Historical Traces (1997), the Historical Encyclopedia of Western Australia as Editor-in-Chief with Jan Gothard as General Editor (2009) judged 'a landmark of historical scholarship', and Seeking Wisdom: a Centenary History of The University of Western Australia (2013). With Professor David Gordon of Queens University in Canada, she recently co-edited a special issue of the A-ranked Town Planning Review on prominent international town planner Gordon Stephenson.

Gregory has served on the Executive of the Australian Historical Association (1993-1994, 2006-2008) and as Secretary (1995-1996) and Editor of the National Bulletin (1996-98). She has been a member of the Boards of Australian Historical Studies and Public History Review and chaired the Board of Studies in Western Australian History.

In 2013 she was a member of the Australia Day Council in Western Australia and Vice President of the National Trust of Australia (WA), after years as Chair (2008-2010) and President (1998-2007). and a member of ICOMOS's International Scientific Committee on Interpretation and Presentation of Cultural Heritage Sites. She was Deputy Chair of the Australian Council of National Trusts (2009-2010) and a member of the Heritage Council of WA (1997-2000, 2007), inaugural President of the History Council of Western Australia (2003-2007), an invited member of the City of Perth Heritage Appeal, the Centenary of Federation Committee (WA), and the Premier's WA 175th Anniversary Committee. Gregory has been an invited judge on many panels, including the WA Media Awards and the West Australian Newspaper's 100 Most Influential Western Australians. She has been a Director of the WA History Foundation since 1999 and was one of twelve invited participants to the Prime Minister's Australian History Summit in 2006 and contributed to the development of the National Australian Curriculum: History. She has since led the development of associated professional development courses for teachers and the Masters in Curriculum Studies in History at UWA.

In 2001 Gregory was awarded a Centenary Medal for her services to heritage and in 2004 a Champion Award by the National Year of the Built Environment. She was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2010 for service to the community as an historian and academic and through the promotion and preservation of local and regional history in Western Australia.

Published Resources

Book Sections

  • 'Jennifer Anne Gregory', in Pearce, Suzannah (ed.), Who's Who in Western Australia, Inaugural edn, Crown Content, North Melbourne, Victoria, 2007. Details

Edited Books

  • Who's who of Australian women : leadership and beyond, Crown Content, North Melbourne, Victoria, 2008. Details

Online Resources

See also