About the Australian Women’s Register

The AWR is a product of the Australian Women’s Archives Program

The Australian Women’s Archives Program (AWAP), established in 1999 as the Australian Women’s Archives Project, is a long-standing collaboration between the University of Melbourne and the National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW). It was created to build knowledge and recognition of the social, cultural, historical and economic contribution made by Australian women to public and private life. The AWR was a key plank in the AWAP strategy.

AWAP is a unique and authoritative resource for information about women in Australian history and society. The activities of AWAP include:
  • Conducting original research to compile information about women’s history
  • Making that information available through the Australian Women’s Register
  • Showcasing groups of women including sportswomen, migrants, scientists and parliamentarians in online exhibitions
  • Encouraging Australian women and women’s organisations to preserve their history by depositing records in collecting institutions for the benefit of future generations.

AWAP’s work has developed as a result of grants and donations. AWAP does not replicate work undertaken by others (such as the Australian Dictionary of Biography https://adb.anu.edu.au/). Dependence on grant and donor funding has inevitably meant many worthy women do not currently have entries on the Register.

Preserving Our History

National and state collecting institutions preserve the papers of well-known women and significant organisations. The AWAP Register shows that the National Library of Australia holds the archives of Judith Wright (1915-2000) poet and conservationist, the State Library of Queensland holds the records of the Queensland Country Women’s Association from 1922 onwards and the State Library of South Australia holds the papers of Dame Roma Mitchell (1913-2000) the first woman governor of an Australian state.

But there are many smaller institutions with fascinating archival collections. The Northern Beaches Council Library’s local studies collection at Dee Why, NSW holds the records of surfboard rider and swimming instructor Isabel Letham (1899-1995). The Geelong City Council’s Heritage Centre in Victoria holds the records of local Girl Guides groups from the 1930s – 1960s. The Charles Sturt University Regional Archives in Wagga, NSW holds the records of the Coolamon Mothers’ Union (1947-85) and the Italian Historical Society (Victoria) holds the records of Lena Santospirito (1895-1993) a community worker and migrant community advocate.

If you are the custodian of the papers of a woman or the records of a women’s organisation, AWAP encourages you to consider preserving them in a suitable collecting institution for future generations.

Advice on looking after records and archives

If you need advice on storing and preserving your records at home you may find it useful to refer to the following resources: