• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE3969

Swanton, Mary Hynes

(1861 – 1940)
  • Born 22 June, 1861, West Melbourne Victoria Australia
  • Died 25 November, 1940, Sydney New South Wales Australia
  • Occupation Tailoress, Trade unionist, Women's rights activist


Mary Swanton was an staunch labour activist who was particularly concerned about the conditions endured by working women. Born in Melbourne, she moved to Perth, Western Australia, in 1889 where she worked as a tailoress. She was a member of the Australian Native’s Association, a strong supporter of women’s suffrage and a founding member (secretary) of the Perth branch of the Australian Women’s Association.

In 1900 she became the foundation president of the Perth Tailoresses’ Union until its amalgamation with the Tailors’ Union in 1905. She was elected to the presidency of the combined union in 1910. Swanton was also a foundation member of the Karrakatta Club, and a friend and associate of reformist women such as Katharine Susannah Prichard.

A lifelong commitment to the cause of labour did not limit her criticism of the movement when it ignored women’s working conditions.

Published resources

  • Resource Section
  • Edited Book
    • Women in Australia : an annotated guide to records, Daniels, Kay, Murnane, Mary, Picot, Anne and National Research Program (Australia), 1977
  • Journal Article
    • In the thick of every battle for the cause of Labor' : the voluntary work of the Labor women's organisations in Western Australia, 1900-1970, Oliver, Bobbie, 2001
  • Resource

Archival resources

  • Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection
    • Mary Hynes Swanton - papers, 1896-1940

Related entries

  • Friend and Colleague
    • Prichard, Katharine Susannah (1883 - 1969)
  • Foundation Member
    • KarraKatta Club (1894 - )
  • Founder
    • KarraKatta Club (1894 - )