• Entry type: Organisation
  • Entry ID: AWE0542

Women’s Peace Army

(From 1915 – 1919)
  • Occupation Social action organisation


The Women’s Peace Army was established on 15 July 1915 at the offices of the Women’s Political Association, in an attempt to mobilise the women in Australia who opposed all war, regardless of political party membership. It was to be a fighting body to destroy militarism ‘with the same spirit of self-sacrifice that soldiers showed on the battlefield’. ‘We war against war’ was the motto of the Women’s Peace Army. Their flag took the feminist colours of purple, green and white. The most well-known members were Vida Goldstein, president, Cecilia John and Adela Pankhurst. With autonomous branches in Sydney and Brisbane, the Women’s Peace Army projected a radical, militant image with its socialist anti-war ideology and attracted large numbers to its sometimes controversial public meetings. Other tactics included participation in peace demonstrations, support for peace candidates at elections, petitions to members of parliament and practical help to those disadvantaged by war. It participated in the anti-conscription campaigns of 1916 and 1917. With the end of the Great War, the Women’s Peace Army went into recess on 18 December 1919.

Published resources

  • Book
    • The Goldstein Story, Henderson, Leslie M. (Leslie Moira), 1973
    • Put up the Sword, Pankhurst, Adela, 1915
    • Radical Melbourne : a secret history, Sparrow, Jeff and Sparrow, Jill, 2001
  • Journal
    • The Woman Voter, Goldstein, Vida, 1909-1919
  • Book Section
    • The Women's Peace Army, Gowland, Patricia, 1980
    • The unwritten history of Adela Pankhurst Walsh, Summers, Anne, 1980
  • Journal Article
    • Blood votes and the bestial Boche: a case study in propaganda, Shute, Carmel, 1976
    • Heroines and heroes: sexual mythology in Australia 1914-1918, Shute, Carmel, 1972
  • Thesis
    • Women in protest movements: the Women's Peace Army and the Save Our Sons Movement., Francis, Rosemary, 1984
  • Resource

Archival resources

  • National Library of Australia
    • [Biographical cuttings on Vida Goldstein, containing one or more cuttings from newspapers or journals]
  • State Library of Victoria
    • Letters, diaries and lectures
    • Press cuttings book presented to Edith How Martyn, 1943. [manuscript].
    • The Goldstein chronicle, [between 1950 and 1973]. [manuscript].
  • National Library of Australia, Manuscript Collection
    • Vida Goldstein 1869-1949 January 1966 [manuscript]
    • Papers of Leslie M. Henderson, circa 1880-1961 [manuscript]
    • Papers on various Australian women [19--] [manuscript]

Related entries

  • Related Women
    • Griffiths, Jennie Scott (1875 - 1951)
    • Pankhurst, Adela Constantia Mary (1885 - 1961)
    • Miller, Emma (1839 - 1917)
  • Founder
    • Goldstein, Vida (1869 - 1949)
    • John, Cecilia Annie (1877 - 1955)
  • Related Organisations
    • Women's Political Association of Victoria (1903 - 1919)
    • Labor Women's Anti-Conscription Committee (1916 - 1917)
  • Member
    • Baines, Sarah Jane (Jennie) (1866 - 1951)