• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE0108

Daniels, Kay

(1941 – 2001)
  • Nationality Australian
  • Born 1 January, 1941, Australia
  • Died 17 July, 2001
  • Occupation Historian, Public servant, Writer


Kay Daniels taught and published widely in the fields of women’s, social and colonial history. Until her two-volume work Women in Australia: An Annotated Guide to Records was published in 1977, it had been generally believed that women could not be included in history as they lived within the family and there were no records of their lives in the public sphere.
She spent part of her life as a Commonwealth public servant in Canberra, contributing in areas of cultural policy and intellectual property rights.


After graduating from the University of Adelaide in 1963, Daniels chose an interdisciplinary studies course offered by University of Sussex. It was here that she completed her doctoral thesis on the publication of novels in England in the 1890s, under labour historian Asa Briggs and literary critic David Daiches.
From 1967 to 1988, Daniels taught history, applying the insights she had acquired to the new field of women’s history, at the University of Tasmania. With a grant funded from the International Women’s Year project, Daniels designed and supervised a project that set out to unearth in Australia’s official archives all materials relating to women. Women in Australia: An Annotated Guide to Records was published in 1977. She also attended early women’s movement conferences, as well as leading the fight to save the Cascades Female Factory and publishing the newsletter Liberaction.
Daniels took leave in 1985, to head up the committee to review Australian studies in tertiary education in Canberra. The resulting report, Windows into Worlds, led to the establishment of many Australian Studies centres, and to the increased Australian content of much of tertiary education.
She was the principal intellectual force behind the 1993 cultural policy statement Distinctly Australian, and also had significant input into its successor Creative Nation, after commencing work for the federal Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, in 1989.
Before passing away, Daniels was awarded an adjunct professorship at Macquarie University and an honorary degree from the University of Tasmania.
In 2003 The Kay Daniels Award was established to honour her work as a historian and public servant. It is a biennial award, sponsored by members and associates of the Australian Historical Association, the University of Tasmania and the Port Arthur Historic Site.


Published resources

  • Resource
  • Newspaper Article
    • Kay Daniels: writer, historian, scholar and bureaucrat, Summers, Anne, 2001
    • Life of compassion drove gifted feminist, Flanagan, Richard, 2001
    • Enlightened voice of women's history, Roe, Jill, 2001
    • Destined for distinction, 2001
  • Journal Article
    • Obituary, Roe, Jill, 2001
    • Kay Daniels 1941-2001, Roe, Jill, 2002
  • Edited Book
    • Women in Australia : an annotated guide to records, Daniels, Kay, Murnane, Mary, Picot, Anne and National Research Program (Australia), 1977
  • Site Exhibition

Archival resources

  • National Library of Australia, Manuscript Collection
    • Papers of Marilyn Lake, 1964-1999 [manuscript]

Related entries

  • Founding sponsor
    • International Women's Year National Advisory Committee (1974 - 1976)
  • Related Cultural Artefacts
    • Women in Australia: An annotated guide to records (1977 - )
  • Related Concepts
    • History and Historians
  • Related Places
    • Cascades Female Factory (1828 - 1970)