• Entry type: Organisation
  • Entry ID: AWE1124

Housewives Association of New South Wales

(From 1918 – )
  • Occupation Lobby group, Membership organisation, Women's Rights Organisation


The Housewives Association of New South Wales was founded in 1918 largely due to the efforts of the artist Portia Geach. Influenced by a meeting of a housewives’ association she had attended in New York in 1917, on her return to Sydney she formed and was first president of a similar organisation in her own state. The Association initially aimed to educate women in the principles of proper nutrition and to combat profiteering and rising food prices. It soon broadened its interests, becoming a considerable lobbying force on issues affecting women and children generally.


The Association had wide affiliations from its earliest years – including the Parks and Playgrounds Association, Health Week, National Trust of Australia, National Council of Women, Town Planners’ Association, United Nations Associations of Sydney and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. In 1928 Geach reorganised the association as the Housewives’ Progressive Association. In 1938 the Housewives’ Progressive Association was incorporated under the chairmanship of Eleanor Glencross with Geach a director. Their rivalry led to the expulsion in 1941 of Portia and four others, who alleged that the association had been working in cooperation with the Meadow-Lea Margarine Co. Pty Ltd. In 1947 she formed the breakaway Progressive Housewives’ Association. The original organisation continued in a somewhat reduced form.


Published resources

  • Newsletter
    • The Housewife: the official journal of the Housewives' Association of N.S.W., Housewives Association of New South Wales, 1933-1982?
  • Journal Article
    • From "Thrift" to "Scientific Spending": The Sydney Housewives' Association between the Wars, Foley, Meredith, 1984
  • Resource

Archival resources

  • National Library of Australia, Oral History and Folklore Collection
    • Mary Wright interviewed by Richard Raxworthy in the Labor Council of New South Wales oral history project [sound recording]
  • Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection
    • Australian Housewives Association of NSW - further papers, 1972-1984
    • Australian Housewives Association of NSW records, 1964-1985

Related entries

  • Related Organisations
    • National Council of Women of New South Wales (1896 - )
    • Housewives Association of Victoria (1915 - )
    • Housewives Association (Australia) South Australian Division (1926 - )
    • Progressive Housewives Association, New South Wales (1947 - )
  • Chairwoman of Directors
    • Glencross, Eleanor (1876 - 1950)
  • Affiliated
    • Federated Association of Australian Housewives (1923 - )
  • Founder
    • Geach, Portia Swanston (1873 - 1959)
  • President
    • Geach, Portia Swanston (1873 - 1959)
  • Member
    • Wright, Mary (1903 - 1993)
  • Related Women
    • Dale, Marguerite Ludovia (1883 - 1963)