Woman Vroland, Anna Fellowes (1902 - 1978)

7 May 1902
Ascot Vale, Victoria, Australia
Aboriginal rights activist, Headmistress, Humanitarian, Peace activist, Teacher and Women's rights activist
Alternative Names
  • White (Maiden)

Written by Rani Kerin, Australian National University

Born on 7 May 1902 at Ascot Vale, Melbourne, Anna Vroland was the third child of John and Jane White. She was educated at home and at Methodist Ladies College, Kew. She began her teaching career at private girls' schools, spent five years at an experimental primary school at Belgrave and taught in the state school system. In 1961 she was appointed headmistress of Woodstock Girls' School, Albury, New South Wales, but was dismissed after six months on account of her political views.

Passionate about women's rights and the cause of peace, Vroland was also a humanitarian with strong views on the treatment of Australia's Aboriginal population - people she considered her 'friends'. Following her marriage to Anton William Rutherford Vroland (1874-1957) in 1947, she became one of Victoria's leading campaigners for Aboriginal rights. An active member of the New Education Fellowship and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, she used the networks and support these organisations provided to help her promote the Aboriginal cause.

Arguing that Aboriginal people had been deprived of the 'most elemental human rights - the right to their own social organization, the right to be self-supporting' (Argus, 7 August 1947), Vroland's wish was to see Aboriginal people in control of their own affairs. In 1951 she published Their Music Has Roots, an anthropological analysis of songs sung by Aboriginal people in Victoria, most of whom were of mixed descent and so officially considered non-Aboriginal. An early critic of assimilation, Vroland sought to educate white Australians about the hardships such people faced in their efforts 'to bridge the gulf between two widely differing civilisations' (Vroland 1951, 8). Much of her campaigning was directed towards promoting a broader definition of Aboriginality, one reliant on self-identification rather than blood or culture.

Vroland withdrew from Aboriginal politics in the late 1950s, but continued to work for women's rights and peace. She died in 1978.

Archival Resources

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • Papers, 1876-1974 [manuscript], 1876 - 1974, MS 3991; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

State Library of Victoria

  • Records of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, 1915-1973. [manuscript]., 1915 - 1973, MS 9377; State Library of Victoria. Details

Published Resources


  • Kerin, Sitarani, An Attitude of Respect: Anna Vroland and Aboriginal Rights, 1947-1957, Monash Publications in History, Clayton, Victoria, 1999. Details
  • Vroland, Anna, Their Music Has Roots, Self Published, Melbourne, Victoria, 1951. Details

Newspaper Articles

Online Resources