Ten ‘firsts’ for Queensland women

Today is International Women’s Day. To celebrate let’s look at some of the ‘firsts’ achieved by Queensland women.

10. First woman to circumnavigate Australia by plane

Aviatrix Lores Bonney boarding her Gypsy Moth at Charleville, ca. 1933. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 49962

Aviatrix Lores Bonney boarding her Gypsy Moth at Charleville, ca. 1933. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 49962

Aviatrix Lores Bonney achieved this feat in 1932 after flying her Gypsy Moth, DH 60G VH-UPV approximately 12,800 km. Prior to this record she also had the distinction of the longest one-day flight by an airwoman, which she achieved a year earlier. State Library holds several digitised photographs of Bonney, include one taken during the launch of the book The girls were up there too in 1986. These images can be viewed through One Search.

9. First women’s international cricket test match was played in Queensland

Souvenir and official programme of the visit of the English Women Cricketers to Queensland 1934-35. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Souvenir and official programme of the visit of the English Women Cricketers to Queensland 1934-35. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

This historic test match was played at the Brisbane Exhibitions Grounds, starting on 28 December, 1934 and played over three days. England won the match easily with 9 wickets to spare. You can find out more about this match on our blog. State Library holds the pamphlet Souvenir and official programme of the visit of the English Women Cricketers to Queensland 1934-35 (as shown above).

8. First woman to be appointed Governor-General of Australia

Queensland Governor Quentin Bryce at the King of Kings restaurant, Fortitude Valley, 2005. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 6317-0001-0322

Queensland Governor Quentin Bryce at the King of Kings restaurant, Fortitude Valley, 2005. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 6317-0001-0322. Image in copyright. Photographer: Reina Irmer

Dame Quentin Bryce served as Governor-General of Australia between September 2008 and March 2014. Prior to this appointed she served as Governor of Queensland from July 2003 to July 2008. She also has the distinction of being the first woman appointed to the Queensland bar after completing a Law Degree at the University of Queensland in 1965. On SLQ’s One Search catalogue you find number of items related to Quentin Bryce including her a copy of her farewell speech which was delivered on 21 July 2008 at the Gallery of Modern Art, South Brisbane. Dame Quentin Bryce also shared her thoughts about the 2008 apology to the Stolen Generation in a short SLQ produced interview.

7. First practicing woman dentist in Queensland

Myra Rendle-Mackenzie commenced practicing as a private dentist in Brisbane in 1899. When the Dental Board of Queensland was formed in 1903, she applied and received a certificate of registration to practice as a dentist. 27473 Myra Rendle-Mackenzie Papers 1896-1994 is held by State Library of Queensland. It contains a number of documents regarding the history of dentistry in Queensland as well as photographs and other ephemera.

6. First Indigenous graduate from the University of Queensland

Student Margaret Valadian talking to visiting US singer Paul Robeson. Published in The Courier-Mail, 15 October 1960. Image in copyright.

Student Margaret Valadian talking with visiting US singer Paul Robeson. Published in The Courier-Mail, 15 October 1960. Image in copyright.

Dr Margaret Valadian graduated in 1966 with a Bachelor of Social Studies. Dr Valadian has devoted her career to advancing the development and education of Aboriginal people. She was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1986 and a Civil Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1976 for services to the Aboriginal Community.

5. First Queensland woman to study medicine

Portrait of Doctor Eleanor Elizabeth Bourne, 1878-1957. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 168869

Portrait of Doctor Eleanor Elizabeth Bourne, 1878-1957. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 168869

Dr Elizabeth Bourne graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery from Sydney University in 1903. State Library holds a number of reminiscences by Eleanor Bourne, and OM81-130 Eleanor Elizabeth Bourne Papers

4. First Aboriginal model to be featured on the cover of Vogue magazine

Queenslander Elaine George was featured on the cover of the September 1993 edition of Vogue after being spotted by a talent scout. Her modelling career continued for several years.

3. First Queensland woman to enter Federal Parliament

Dame Annabelle Rankin (left) and the Lord Mayor J. B. Chandler during a visit by Lady Stratheden and Campbell, 1951. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 139275

Dame Annabelle Rankin (left) and the Lord Mayor J. B. Chandler during a visit by Lady Stratheden and Campbell, 1951. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 139275

Dame Annabelle Rankin was a Liberal Senator for Queensland from 1946 to 1971. After retiring from parliament in 1971, she was appointed high commissioner to New Zealand and thus the first female to head an Australian diplomatic mission. In 1984 an Australian electoral division was named in her honour. State Library holds two collections related to Annabelle Rankin – M 405 Dame Annabelle Rankin Papers and 5863 Dame Annabelle Rankin Family Photographs and Photograph Albums 1899-1975, both of which can be viewed at the library.

2. First woman to be elected as Queensland Premier

Premier Anna Bligh arrives at St. Johns Cathedral during Proclamation Day celebrations Brisbane 2009. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 27274-0001-0114

Premier Anna Bligh arrives at St. Johns Cathedral during Proclamation Day celebrations Brisbane 2009. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 27274-0001-0114. Image in copyright. Photographer: Reina Irmer

Anna Bligh served as the 37th Premier of Queensland from 2007 to 2012. She was appointed to the role in 2007 following the retirement of then Premier Peter Beattie. In the 2009 election she was elected in her own right after leading the Labor party to victory. State Library holds several items about the former Premier including a short SLQ produced interview in which Anna Bligh shares her thoughts about the 2008 apology to the Stolen Generation (see below). State Library has also digitised Anna Bligh’s handwritten speech notes that she gave at press conferences on 10 and 13 January 2011 during the Queensland floods.

1. First woman to be elected to the Queensland Parliament

Portrait of Irene Longman. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 63182

Portrait of Irene Longman. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 63182

Irene Longman was the first woman to contest a Queensland state election and the first to be elected to the Queensland Parliament. She was elected to the seat of Bulimba in 1929 and held it until she lost the seat at the next election in 1932.  Prior to her foray into politics Irene was President of the Queensland branch of the National Council of Women from 1920 to 1924. During her time in Parliament she was instrumental in the introduction of Queensland’s first women police officers in 1931. In 1994 an Australian electoral division was named in her honour. State Library holds several digitised photographs of Longman, which can be viewed through One Search.

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland