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Margaret Allen (1947- )

MSS 0103


Margaret Allen was born in Adelaide in 1947. After completing her primary schooling at Walkerville Primary School, Allen attended Adelaide Girls High School from 1960 to 1964. The school was unusual for its time in South Australia, being a state girls' high school offering an academic program, which could lead to further study at university and teachers' college. Allen took up an Education Department Scholarship, studying Arts at the University of Adelaide and majoring in history. The first member of her family to do a degree, she graduated with BA (Hons) 2A in 1969 with a thesis on ‘The Jews in the French Revolution’ and proceeded to a Dip. Ed (1970).

Allen combined an appointment at Salisbury Teachers College with part-time study. She was awarded an MA from the University of Adelaide in 1975 for her thesis ‘Salisbury (South Australia) in transition’. In 1977-1978 she had study leave and did an MA (Social History) at the University of Essex with Leonore Davidoff with her thesis, ‘Woman's place and World War Two’ (1979). In c 1981 Allen enrolled for a PhD on a part-time basis, largely done  at Flinders University under the supervision of Anna Yeatman and Susan Sheridan. In 1992 She was one of the first students to get a Flinders PhD in Women's Studies, with a thesis entitled, ‘Three South Australian Women Writers, 1854-1923: Matilda Evans, Catherine Spence and Catherine Martin.’ She explored ideas about class, race, gender, religion and colonial society through the lives and work of these writers. Subsequently she researched Catherine Martin more widely.

Allen became involved with Women's Liberation Movement in Adelaide in the 1970s and her interest in Women's History grew. She began introducing topics on women within the subjects she convened. In 1975, with colleagues she ran a program for International Women's Year in the Northern Suburbs and in Adelaide. In 1975, she taught a non-assessed enrichment elective on 'Women in History'. From 1979, she introduced a subject, 'Women in History', which she ran in various guises and finally as 'Gender and Race in Australian History' until retirement. … Later she also developed the subject, 'Life Stories: Australia 1850-1980'. She was a founding member of the Women's Studies Course team (1978) at Salisbury campus, which developed a Graduate Diploma and then an MA degree in Women's Studies, teaching the core topic 'Feminist Theory'. In c1984 this team also developed an Associate Diploma in Women's Studies, which allowed women graduates from a TAFE certificate course in Women's Studies to proceed to tertiary study.

Allen became active in union activities and became President of the South Australian College of Advanced Education Staff Association in 1982 when the amalgamation of the SA Teacher's Colleges meant that many contract staff were losing their employment. From 1982-1994, she was active at the national level of her union becoming Vice President (Affirmative Action) and chairing the Women’s Committee. She won an ARC grant with her union as an industry partner to research women's employment in universities, which led to ‘Limited Access: Women's Disadvantage in Higher Education Employment’, with Tanya Castleman, Wendy Bastalich and Pat Wright (1995).

Promoted to Lecturer in 1972 and Senior Lecturer in 1987 at the Salisbury Teachers College, she became an employee of University of Adelaide from 1991, Associate Professor in 2002 and Professor in 2007. Following her retirement in 2010, the University of Adelaide appointed Allen Professor Emerita. In 2011 a celebratory conference was held at the University of Adelaide in her honour. The proceedings of this conference were published in a festschrift in Australian Feminist Studies in 2012. Allen continues to be active as a researcher and writer, in transnational histories with a focus upon India-Australia. .

Adapted from the article Sharon M. Harrison from The Encyclopedia of Women & Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia

Series 1: Salisbury College of Advanced Education / University of South Australia  15 cm.

Graduate Diploma in Women’s Studies

  • Correspondence etc re development, working party, publicity
  • Submission for Reaccreditation 1986
  • Women and Social Policy Unit handbook 1991? (Distance Education Centre)
  • Women Writers Unit: Subject Information, Study Guide, Readings Pt 1-2 1992 (Distance Education Centre);

SACAE course information, handouts

SACAE Women’s Studies handouts, newsletters etc

Papers published / presented by Margaret Allen

Folder: Oral history projects in Salisbury area, including cabin homes ca 1977

See also Series 10: Personal

Series 2: Women’s History Task Force Collection 1989  70 cm.

Fresh Evidence, New Witnesses Finding Women's History Adelaide, Stateprint, 1989 with Alison Mackinnon and Mary Hutchison

In 1985 The Women’s History Task Force compiled a collection of material for the purpose of writing a source book of South Australian women’s history that would be useful for teachers and students from upper secondary to tertiary level, and of general interest. The book, Fresh Evidence, New Witnesses Finding Women's History Adelaide, compiled by Margaret Allen, Alison Mackinnon and Mary Hutchison was published by Stateprint in 1989.

Much of the archive source materials had been disposed of before transfer to the Library. Other items such as photocopied articles were also disposed of on receipt.

WHTF Box 1

  • Prospectus for book (1986), and Introduction and guide to the Collection
  • Miscellaneous correspondence and source material (including knitting patterns), Task Force meeting minutes etc
  • Other correspondence re project, with publisher, about grant received, minutes of meetings, general source materials
  • Correspondence, photographs and source materials for second edition, 1993

WHTF Box 2. Original source material, including interviews and some journal issues

Interview transcripts. Note: interviews may be consulted but not reproduced without permission of copyright holders

  • Vera Ward, Resident Magill Home - Gallipoli Hostel. B. 1905
  • Lesley Carron [re children doing paid piece work at home]
  • Clarice Thomson (nee Gomer): Australian Women’s Land Army Experiences August 1943-December 1945
  • Early recollections of Yorktown / Vera Dunbar, nee Ferguson
  • Mrs Michels (Good Neighbour Council) RESTRICTED – see permission form
  • Mrs Ella Thomas
  • Barlow Family, Yorketown
  • June Baker, Councillor at Warooka (Yorke Peninsula) [extracts only]
  • Mrs B.M. Tomlinson
  • Australian women in the Depression: Mrs Milford, Mrs Thompson, Mrs Smith, Mrs ‘Fisher’, Mrs Darling, Mrs Biggs, Mrs Pugh, Mrs Wright, Mrs Gordon and 5 anonymous

Transcripts of interviews with South Australian women about World War II 1985-85

  • Mona Maguire 30/5/1985
  • Mary Miller 27/1/1986
  • Mary Miller 4/6/1986


  • Typescript: History of Nursing in South Australia [/ Sr White?]
  • Typescript: Mosquito Fleet / Mary Heritage.
  • Typescript: Letter from Jean Mills, governess to the Butlre family, Mallala, to Ethel Finey (later Mrs Butler) c. 1890
  • Typescript: Letter written on voyage to S. Australia of George and Sarah Norman Brunskill, to her parents in Ely 1838/9.
  • Photocopy: Caroline Clark’s diary 1850 [from Phyllis Pwen Crompton Papers State Library SA]
  • MS: Miss Dulcie Scott (re Girl Guides)
  • Typescript: The problems of women who enter University as mature age students: some observations made in the Department of Geography, University of Adelaide, and some approaches used to help alleviate problems.
  • Typescript: Some sources which may be useful for [ABC] Programme One and Two [extracts from sources on South Australian women’s history]
  • Extracts from the diary of Mary Ann Jacobs (nee Mildwaters) and related information
  • MS letters to Amy Neumann from various relatives 1920s [photocopy]
  • Typescript: The Settlement Problems of Women from Vietnam” [photocopy]

Journal issues

  • New Idea May 21 1958
  • Australian Women’s Weekly: Recipes from famous-brand cooks. April 25 1962
  • Australian Women’s Weekly. “Sheep Kings” by Joyce West [A complete book-length novel] Supplement January 4 1936
  • Women’s Realm March 11 1967
  • Treasure [children’s magazine] 19 June 1965
  • Princess May 30 1964; December 11 1965; June 18, July 16, 12 November 1966
  • The Graded Sunday School Teacher of Australasia. February and August 1923; September 1924; February 1928

WHTF Box 3

  • Photographs used in Fresh Evidence
  • Photographs – Proof sheets
  • Photographs from magazines – awaiting replies for permission to reproduce
  • Ms index list to photographs
  • Photographs not used in book
  • Negatives
  • C. Prints: State Library copying slips for photographs; some negatives and photos
  • Photocopies from the Margaret Haselgrove Collection
  • Photo “problems”
  • Government printers – images from Government publications
  • Copyright / permissions information
  • “Outstanding permissions” plus a few late permissions

WHTF Box 4. Index cards

Index cards Restricted Series A

Index cards Series D, E, F, and loose cards

PLUS 5 small filing boxes

Series 3: Project: Quaker Families and the Construction of Social Difference. Investigators: Alison Mackinnon, Margaret Allen and Sandra Holton. Funded by the Australian Research Council 1995-7  3 m.

Box 1


  • ARC applications
  • Aims and significance of project
  • Correspondence
  • Meeting minutes etc


  • Bibliographical references
  • Associated conferences, including Standing Against the Stream: Women, religion and Social Action, Academy of Social Sciences workshop, July 1997

Papers published or presented

Box 2
Bancroft Project folder: “Quaker families and the construction of social difference: gender, class and religion in the Sarah Bancroft Clark Papers”

  • ARC grant applications
  • Aims of the project
  • Notes on Sarah Bancroft Clark (1877-1973) and Clark family
  • Correspondence
  • Related articles and papers
  • Notes from meetings

Papers re Matilda Sturge.

  • Includes articles, correspondence, papers written etc. Some Bancroft family material (2 folders)

Boxes 3-6

Photocopies of the Bancroft Papers, Somerset Record Office. 4 boxes. Index in first box

  • With additional photocopies , including The British Friend, in box 6

Boxes 7-13

Quaker source materials

  • Photocopies of articles, source materials, arranged alphabetically A-T (3 boxes), plus 4 boxes of additional unsorted articles (last box includes information re collections of material, bibliographies and family trees)

Series 4: Laos  30 cm.

In 1997 Allen carried out a feasibility study of the establishment of Women's Studies at the National University of Laos for the Swedish International Development Agency and the Laos Ministry of Education.

Laos Box 1

Documents and correspondence re the administration and conduct of the project, including

  • Final report “Women’s Studies Centre, National University of Laos. Feasibility Study” / Margaret Allen (April 1997)
  • Luminis proposal for the project (October 1996)
  • Other documentation and reports
  • Other related correspondence

Photographs (16 photographs of places and people in Lao PDR, not annotated)

Bibliography and references

Laos government reports and publications on statistics, women and women’s health, and 20th anniversary of the Lao PDR booklet, ca 1995-96

Ephemeral source materials and notes

3 ms notebooks

MS notebook July-August 1997: record of discussions re report on proposed Women’s Studies program for the National University of Laos [course was not established]

Interviews with 2 French lecturers and Phetsamone Khounsavath, Head of the French Dept, National University of Laos. 2 cassette tapes

Laos Box 2

Publications by other bodies on Laos and women eg. AusAid, UNESCO/Uinicef, Community Aid Abroad, Red Cross, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Stockholm University, Swedish International Development Authority and others

Assorted copies of Vientiane Times newspaper 1994-98

Series 5: Young Australian Women Graduates  40 cm.

“Gendered Choices and Constraints: a longitudinal study of the emerging careers of young Australian professionals.”
A project by Margaret Allen, Rosslyn Reed (Sydney University of Technology) and Tanya Castleman with Darryl Coulthard (Deakin University) which examined the influence of gender on the development of their working and professional lives. Grant applications made but not successful. Project ceased 2001.

Box 1

  • Questionnaires, administrative papers, correspondence etc re the Survey of Professional Career Experiences of Young Australian Graduates, Swinburne University of Technology, 1997
  • Cassette tape recordings of interviews
  • Interview transcripts and 1999 paper by Rosslyn Reed
  • Interview transcripts and summaries
  • Analyses of responses to issues (ms notes)
  • Published report “Career Experiences of Young Australian Professional Graduates: preliminary report on survey data”/ Tanya Castleman and Darryl Coulthard (1998)

Box 2

  • Correspondence and papers presented and published, including statistical analyses
  • Grant application 2001
  • Published sources and articles

Series 6: India / West Indies  30 cm.

Relationships with India and West Indies grew out of the Sixth International Interdisciplinary Congress on Women 1996 – see records held by University of Adelaide Archives

India (2004-7)

Box 1

Typescript: “Relationships between Gender/Women Studies at University of Adelaide & Research Centre for Women’s Studies at SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai & other scholars” / Margart Allen, 2002. 1 p.

Published items produced by and about The Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey (SNDT) Women’s University

Box 2

List of lectures presented By Professor Veena Poonacha (Director Women’s Studies, SNDT University, Mumbai, India) to the Dept of Social Inquiry, Women’s Studies. Some correspondence.

Also photocopied and published source materials re women and economic development in India, along with issues re-education, health and domestic violence.

West Indies

Portfolio re University of the West Indies, Centre for Gender and Development Studies

Sistren Theatre Collective:

  • [journal issue] Sistren v. 16 no. 3&4 1996
  • VHS tape: Sweet Sugar Rage [documentary / drama performance based on women sugar cane workers] produced by the Sistren Theatre Collective, 1985
  • Note: The Sistren Theatre Collective group attended the Sixth International Interdisciplinary Congress on Women 1996

Series 7: Women’s History Review 10 cm.

Correspondence, drafts and proof copies of articles etc, for Special Issue 1996-97

Series 8: Adelaide High School History book 2006-7  10 cm.

In 2006 Margaret Allen served on the Oral History/Centenary Book Subcommittee of the Adelaide High School Centenary Celebrations Committee.

Minutes of Sub-Committee May 2006

Printouts and photocopies of significant dates, scolars etc

Published sources: articles, Adelaide Girls High School Last Magazine 1976; AHS Jubilee booklet 1958; AHS 75th booklet 1983; Official Centenary Program booklet

Interviews: documentation and cassette recordings / transcripts

  • Christyana Bambacas (transcript only)
  • Doug Anders (transcript only)
  • Winifred Phelps
  • Barbara Stoddart re Veta Macghey
  • Barbara Robertson
  • Enid Peleska re Veta Macghey
  • Barbara Heynemann re Veta Macghey

Responses to Historical Survey of Adelaide High School / Adelaide Girls High School

Transcript of talk for Cultural Collections / University of Adelaide Art & Heritage 2008

Adelaide High School Centenary Images. 2 DVDs

Series 9: Other  95 cm.

Box 1

Papers, correspondence etc associated with “A Gendered Culture: Educational Management in the 1990s” Conference, Victoria University of Technology, July 1992

Women’s Suffrage Centenary 1994:

  • newspaper clippings Eastern Courier, and invitations to events and memorabilia
  • Folder: Women's Liberation source materials

Women workers

  • “What’s in a Word: a research project investigating the ways in which women’s skills are described.” [Draft] Document for consultation, Women’s Advisory Unit, SA Dept of Labour (1992) With covering letter
  • [Practical Guide] for project

Australian Festival of Light and Community Standards Organisation

  • Issues of journal “Light” November 1979 – October 1981 [incomplete]
  • Other ephemeral publications and newspaper clippings

“A Collection of the Life Stories of Women” / compiled by the Women’s Studies Group, Panorama College of TAFE (1987). With: “Writing Women’s Life Stories: our experience”

Boxes 2-6

The Federal independent: a journal of applied Christianity; with which is incorporated "The Murray independent." Sydney: Rev. A. Rivett.(Sydney : Printed by Harry Gorton at the offices of the Kingston Press.)  90 cm.
Photocopies of issues 1891-1930, plus print copies 1929-30

Series 10: Biographical / Personal  30 cm

Course information for Honours History course, University of Adelaide, 1968

Student teacher notebook, Adelaide Teachers College ca 1965-66

MS synopsis of teaching career 1973-2002

[Transcript] Interview with Margaret Allen 5/2/1993 [Interviewer identified only as ‘P’]

[Transcript] Interview of Margaret Allen by Julie Deblaquiere of LaTrobe University 12/12/2001 re establishment and practices of Women’s Studies programs in Adelaide

Photographs: M.A. (Women’s Studies) Graduation:

  • 4 group photographs (L-R Chrystyana Bambacas, ?, Margaret Allen, Margie Ripper, ?, Deb Nanschild
  • Margaret Allen & Deb Nanschild

SACAE / Salisbury

  • Personal data / correspondence re teaching position at Salisbury, 1975-1983, including difficulties with regaining full time position after maternity leave
  • Report and material re study leave in Essex 1977-78
  • Personal data / correspondence re teaching position at Salisbury, 1984-89, including applications for promotion

University of Adelaide: Personal data / correspondence re teaching position at Adelaide, including applications for promotion, research projects, publications and departmental matters

  • 1991-96
  • 1995-96 (mostly re International Interdisciplinary Congress of Women 1996)
  • 1997-98
  • 1999 re application for academic Level D
  • 1999-2002
  • 2003-4
  • 2000-2001 ARC applications
  • 2001 application for promotion
  • 2005-8, 2010

Booklet: Unfinished Business: Kumarangk Hindmarsh Island / Kumarangk Coalition. 1998?
[Statement of support for the Ngarrindjeri traditional owners re Hindmarsh Island bridge case]

Letter from the women of Lockridge Campsite, Swan Valley, WA, to Margaret Allen, Third Women and Labour Conference, 12/8/1983, asking for support in their struggle for land and decent accommodation.

Cheryl Hoskin
November 2020

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