• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: IMP0088

Mayo, Helen Mary

(1878 – 1967)
  • Born 1 October, 1878, Adelaide South Australia Australia
  • Died 13 November, 1967
  • Occupation Doctor


Dr Helen Mayo was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (Civil) on 3 June 1935 for her maternal and child welfare activities. She worked well past retirement age and established several children’s health facilities.


Helen Mayo was educated privately and at the Advanced School for Girls; she matriculated in 1895. Mayo began a medical degree at the University of Adelaide in 1898, and became the university’s second woman medical graduate. She gained her doctorate in medicine (MD) in 1926. She opened a private practice in Adelaide in 1906 specialising in midwifery and the health of women and children. She lectured at the University of Adelaide 1926-1934. Mayo also founded the Mothers and Babies’ Health Association (1927) which grew out of the School for Mothers she established with social worker Harriet Stirling in 1909. The organisation still exists today, as Child and Youth Health. Stirling and Mayo also set up an independent hospital in 1913 to address the special needs of infant patients. In 1917 it was taken over by the Government and became the Mareeba Babies’ Hospital, with Mayo as honorary responsible medical officer.

Mayo also worked for the Adelaide Children’s Hospital, lectured at the University of Adelaide, established a donor service for the Red Cross Transfusion Service and chaired a committee which aimed to establish a women’s university college. In 1935 Dr Helen Mayo was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (Civil) for her maternal and child welfare activities. She was also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, a foundation Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and President of the Australian Federation of University Women.



  • 2001 - 2001

    Inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women

Published resources

  • Book
    • Living in South Australia : a social history, Elizabeth Kwan, 1987
    • A goodly heritage: an appreciation of the life and work of the late Dr Helen Mayo, Horan, Margaret Burton, 1971
    • The hands of a woman: South Australian Medical Women's Society, 1994
    • The new women : Adelaide's early women graduates, Mackinnon, Alison, 1942-, 1986
  • Newspaper Article
    • Obituary: Helen Mayo, MacKay, D. G., 1968
  • Edited Book
    • 200 Australian Women: A Redress Anthology, Radi, Heather, 1988
    • S.A.'s greats: the men and women of the North Terrace plaques, Healey, John, 2001
  • Book Section
    • The Medicals: Laura Hope, Helen Mayo, Rosamund Benham [and] Phyllis Cliento, Mackinnon, Alison, 1986
    • Helen Mayo, MacKinnon, Alison, [1988]
  • Resource Section
  • Journal Article
    • A very remarkable woman: Dr Helen Mary Mayo, 1978-1967, Denham, D., 1991
    • Some aspects of the history of infant welfare in South Australia, Mayo, Helen Mary, 1960
  • Report
    • Private medicine and public health, Hicks, Neville, 1986
  • Resource
  • Site Exhibition

Archival resources

  • State Library of South Australia
    • Mayo family : SUMMARY RECORD
  • The University of Adelaide, Barr Smith Library Rare Books & Special Collections
    • [Address delivered at the opening of the Dr. Helen Mayo Wing, St. Ann's College, 29th June 1961]
    • Some observations on biological therapy / Helen Mary Mayo

Related entries

  • President
    • Australian Federation of Graduate Women Inc. (1922 - )
  • Related Organisations
    • Australian Red Cross Blood Service
  • Presided
    • Lyceum Club Adelaide Incorporated (1922 - )
  • Founder
    • Adelaide School for Mothers (1909 - 1915)
  • Related Women
    • Stirling, Harriet Adelaide