Woman Stamp, Isla May (1906 - 1991)

Carlton, Victoria, Australia
Kindergarten Director and Public servant

Written by Deborah Towns, Swinburne University

Isla May Stamp was born in Carlton, Victoria in 1906, the younger daughter of John Edward and Caroline Stamp. Her schooling was at University High School and Presbyterian Ladies College. After travelling overseas with her parents she studied at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and Swinburne Technical College.

While a student she volunteered at a kindergarten which inspired her to train at the Kindergarten Training College, Melbourne. After graduation she taught in Melbourne kindergartens and then went to Hobart in 1940 where she established the first Lady Gowrie Child Centre in Tasmania. In 1943 she was appointed as the principal of the Kindergarten Teachers College, Perth and Director of the Kindergarten Union on Western Australia. While working she gained her matriculation which enabled her to be accepted by Columbia and New York Universities where she graduated BSc and M.Psychol., respectively, between 1946 and 1949. Upon her return to Australia she worked in yet another state of Australia, this time as the principal of the KTC, Brisbane, from 1949 to 1950. Next she returned to New York University and graduated with a Doctorate in Education in 1953.

Stamp returned to her home state of Victoria where she was appointed to the Mental Health Authority and seconded to the Department of Health where she established the Preschool Guidance Program. This was a world first in its scope and nature. She also created the Behaviour Study Technique, an early childhood diagnostic tool published by the Australian Council of Educational research in 1958. She continued her work in this Department for eighteen years and retired in 1972. After her retirement she kept working in early childhood services. She was the educational director of the Australian Pre-school Association, Canberra, for a year where she produced, Young Children in Perspective, a study of the work of the Lady Gowrie Child Centres over thirty-five years. She served on the Australian Committee of the international Organisation Mondiale pour l'Education Prescolaire, known internationally as OMEP, including the role of vice-president of the Asia-Pacific region in 1974. She was also a founder of the Australian Journal of Early Childhood.

Isla Stamp died in 1991.

Published Resources

Book Sections

  • Milne, Rosemary, 'Isla Stamp 1906 - 1991', in Joan Waters (ed.), With Passion, Perseverance and Practicality: 100 Women Who Influenced Australian Children's Services, 1841-2001, OMEP Australia, Melbourne, Victoria, 2002, pp. 170 - 171. Details

See also