• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE6239

Spencer, Dora Margaret

(1916 – 2011)
  • Born 26 August, 1916, Armadale Victoria Australia
  • Died 6 January, 2011
  • Occupation Author, Entomologist, Lecturer


Dora Margaret Cumpston was born in Armadale, Victoria, in 1916 to parents John Howard Lidgett Cumpston and Gladys Maeva (Walpole). Margaret’s family moved to Canberra when she was 12 years old and she was educated St Gabriel’s and later Telopea Park Intermediate School.

Margaret attended the Women’s College at the University of Sydney and in 1939 she graduated with a Master of Science (MSc.) degree. Margaret was awarded a Linnean Macleay Fellowship in zoology for her MSc. She went on to lecture in zoology at New England University College from 1940 to 1945, followed by an appointment as a zoology tutor at the University of Sydney, while her husband completed his medicine degree. (Margaret had married Terence Edward Spencer in 1941).

Margaret was appointed as entomologist instructor at the Malaria Control School at Minj, in the Western Highlands of New Guinea, in 1954. Together Margaret and her husband undertook an investigation of malaria in the highlands, followed by various other studies in surrounding areas over the following years. Margaret was also awarded a World Health Organisation research grant to study anopheline; a type of mosquito that carry malaria. Margaret had numerous articles published in a wide variety of journals including, The Journal of Medical Entomology, The Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, The Australian Journal of Entomology, and The Papua New Guinea Medical Journal and The Australian Journal of Science. Margaret was also the author of a number of books.

On Australia Day 1997, Margaret was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) ‘for service to community health through research in the area of malaria entomology and mosquito-borne diseases’. The following year she graduated with a PhD from the Tropical Health Program of the University of Queensland.


Archival resources

  • National Library of Australia, Manuscript Collection
    • Papers of Dora Margaret Spencer, 1924-2003 [manuscript]
    • Papua New Guinea papers, 1951-1998 [microform]
    • Papers of Isobel Bennett, 1946-1999 [manuscript]
  • National Library of Australia, Oral History and Folklore Collection
    • Margaret Spencer interviewed by Amy McGrath [sound recording]

Related entries

  • Related Organisations
    • Women's College within The University of Sydney (1892 - )
    • St Gabriel's School (1926 - 1932)