The Edna Ryan Papers

From the national library

Edna Ryan’s papers spanning more than fifty years are stored at the National Library of Australia in Canberra.

The letters, diaries, interviews, notebooks and other documents tell the story of the social transformation of the second half of the twentieth century, and Edna Ryan’s role in achieving greater equality for women.

 

SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE

Papers
1948 – 1993
6m (43 boxes)

Available for reference

The Edna Ryan Papers were received in three consignments. In January 1993 several boxes were transferred to the Library. These were once part of the collection of the now-defunct Women’s Archive, which was established by the Women’s Studies Unit at the Australian National University.

In March 1993 and January 1995, Edna Ryan donated further material to the Library. The contents of each instalment have been processed separately. The original sequence established by the Women’s Archive custodians in respect to the first instalment has been maintained. Their file numbers have been added at the end of each folder description in the following list. Because categories of material such as letters, diaries and cuttings are spread across the three instalments, a careful scan of the entire list is recommended.

An interview conducted by Sara Dowse with Edna Ryan in 1991 is held in the Oral History Collection at TRC 2742. There is also a copy of an interview conducted by Lucy Taska in 1987 for the NSW Bicentennial Oral History Collection (TRC 2301 INT.156). In 1992 Margot Oliver made a documentary videorecording, released by the Australian Film Institute, entitled ‘Edna Ryan: a political life’.

Some of Edna Ryan’s papers are held in the Mitchell Library. These were lodged there by Ms Ryan before she moved to Canberra. See Box 9 for list of some of this material.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

“Edna Ryan (née Nelson), feminist and campaigner for equal pay, was born in Sydney in 1904 and died in Canberra in 1997.

One of a large family, Ryan had to leave school early to find work as a clerk, but spent many years studying at evening college. She was an early member of the Communist Party and also of the International Workers of the World but left the Communist Party after her partner, Jack Ryan, was expelled. In 1935 the Ryans joined the Labor Party. Later Edna Ryan was an early campaign manager for the future prime minister Gough Whitlam.

Ryan stood unsuccessfully for the State seat of Mosman as an ALP candidate in 1953 and was an alderman and Deputy Mayor of Fairfield Council between 1956 and 1965.

As a foundation member of the Women’s Electoral Lobby in 1972, Ryan participated in campaigns to persuade the Whitlam Government to reopen the National Wage Case. In 1974 the Arbitration Commission extended to women the same minimum wages as men. In 1993 Ryan successfully lobbied the Minister for Industrial Relations, Laurie Brereton, to ensure that his legislation guaranteed women would be no worse off under enterprise bargaining.

Ryan wrote numerous articles, conference papers, submissions to government and two books, “Gentle invaders” (1975) and “Two thirds of a man” (1984).

She accepted an honorary doctorate from Sydney University in 1985 but rejected an Order of Australia, saying, ‘They are only giving it to me because I am old’.

Edna Ryan had three children, Julia, Lyndall and Patrick, whom she raised alone after Jack Ryan died at an early age.

Papers Series List

Box

Folder

Instalment 21 January 1993

1 1A Autobiographical Writings 1958, 1972-75 (ms 1/1/1-160)
1 1 Australian Labor Party : 1948-73 (Subseries 1) (ms 1/2/1-36) (f2)
1 2 Australian Labor Party: 1970;1972-76 (Sub-series 2) (ms 1/2/37-145) (f3)
1 3 A.L.P.(sub-series 2) cont’d : 1976-77 (ms 1/2/146-268) (f4)
1 4 Abortion: 1969-1978 (ms 1/3/1-165) (f5)
1 5 Abortion: 1980-82 (ms 1/3/166-233a)
1 6 Abortion (New Zealand) : 1978 (ms 1/3/234-287) (f7)
2 7 Women’s Trade Union Commission. Child care (ms 1/4/1-47) (f8)
2 8 Eden Park Child Care Centre (ms 1/4/48) (f9)
2 9 Eden Park Submission Summary (ms 1/4/48-49)
10 Woodbury Estate Submission (ms 1/4/50-110a)
2 11 International Year of the Child (ms 1/4/147-196)
2 12 Children of working mothers (ms 1/4/198-327)
2 13 Eden Park – Parents working on estate (ms 1/4/328-472)
2 14 Commission for adoption of child care policy Constitution of women’s TUC. (ms 1/4/473-570)
2 15 WEA – Mothers’ & children’s residential schools (ms 1/6/389-413) (f22a)
3 16 Trade union matters 1967-1970 (ms 1/5/1-165)
3 17 Trade union matters 1970-1974 (ms 1/5/166-353)
3 18 Trade union matters 1968 – 1975 (ms 1/5/354-388)
3 19 Union publications 1968 – 1974  
4 20 Press clippings: equal pay: Dec 1968 – July 1972  
4 21 Press clippings: women: 1966-1970 (f23)
4 22 Press clippings: women: 1971-1972 (f24)
4 23 Press clippings: women: 1973 (f26)
5 24 Newspaper clippings: women: 1973 (few 1974, 1975) (f25)
5 25 Correspondence for WEL Conference 1973  
5 26 Appendices for WEL Conference 1973  
5 27 WEL Conference 1982  
5 28

Newspaper clippings

Personal correspondence, jottings on book, amendments to Social Services Act 1974

 
5 29

Personal correspondence 1974-76

Establishment of Children’s Commission

 
5 30 Various newsletters and publications, women’s groups, 1971-1976  
6 31 Press clippings: various women and issues: Jan-April 1976 (f27)
6 32 April – December 1976 (f28)
6 33 January – June 1977 (f29)
6 34 July – December 1977 (+few 1978) (f30)
7 35 Press Clippings: General trade union matters from 1962, 1970-71, Jan-Nov 1973 (f31)
7 36 Industrial : Sept 1978 – May 1979 (f32)
7 37 Industrial : Jan – March 1981 (some 1979 & ’80) (f33)
7 38 Industrial: April – June 1981 (f.34)
7 39 BLF : 1981 (f22c)
8 40 Press clippings: Film submission (ms 1/4/111-146)
41-42 Death duties (ms 1/6/261-387) (f21)
8 43-45 Statistics (workforce) (ms 1/6/1-260) (f20)
8 46 WEL, industrial law, etc (ms 1/7/1-30)(f22b)
       

Box

Folder

Instalment 17 March 1993

9 Pocket diaries 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985  
9 Desk diaries 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986  
9 Notebooks

May 1980-1981

March 1981

November 1981 – June 1983

March 1983

14 March 1984 – 7 June 1985

June 1985

July – November 1985

September 1985 – April 1986

February 1986 – August 1986

October-November 1986 (Notes on tour of Greece & Israel)

November 1986 (after tour notes)

List of material sent to SLNSW 1986

 
10   Press clippings:  
10 47 Federal election 1987  
10 48 Women, social security, etc 1987 (f1)
10 49 Women, society etc, June 1987 (f2)
10 50 Women, society etc, May 1987 (f3)
10 51 Gallery of women  
10 52 Women & Anglican Church 1987 (also women generally)  
10 53 National Wage 1988 and women’s wages  
10 54 Issues for women (interviews) 1988  
11 55 Early papers written by Edna Ryan, 1973 – 1982  
11 56

NSW Bicentennial Oral History Project – 1987 Transcript of Tapes 1 & 2

‘One Pub’s Enough’ – A drama in three acts by Edna Ryan

 
11 57 Miscellaneous mss and correspondence 1973 – 1987 (draft submissions)  
11 58

Miscellaneous:

Some useful bibliographies & biographical dictionary

Profiles: Wendy McCarthy

Wendy Fatin

Mum Shirl

SMH article on Ann Summers, Sandra Yates and Jane Pratt ‘Owning a magazine’.

Three papers by EMC., June 1987

‘Reflections on Beauty and the Beast’ – Pamela Denoon

Memorial Lecture delivered by Pat O’Shane, March 1990

Paper: ‘The crisis of Australian unionism’ by Haydon

Manning 1990

‘Female convict workers’ by Deborah Oxley

 
11 59

Miscellaneous:

Speech by Gough Whitlam: opening of Women & Politics Conference August 1975

National Women’s Conference, Sept/Oct 1990

 
11 60

Women: Employment & training (pay rates) 1982

‘Peace by Order: the resignation of Mr Justice Higgins, President of the Commonwealth Conciliation & Arbitration Court’, Edna Ryan, 1981

Women & Unions: Pilot study by Monash Uni Union, 1979

 
11 61 Film Australia correspondence, 1980 – re ‘Decade’  
11 62 Articles on industrial relations and feminism by P.G. McCarthy, Ann C. Villers, Desley Deacon, Gretchen Poiner, Roberta Burke, Eva Cox, Helen Leonard, Val Marsden, Don Rawson, Mary Owen and others, 1968-89  
12 63 Article by Susan Magarey, for Silver Jubilee Edition of Women and work, 1988  
12 64 Pat Richardson, Redress Press and Mary Owen, ’86-89 Newsletter: International Women’s Day 1992  
12 65 Labor Women Speak 1981, Labor Women Caucus, 1983  
12 66 ANU Women’s Archives, 1981-90  
12 67 Network 1982-84  
12 68 Glebe Society, 1989-90  
12 69 Retirement Villages  
13 70

Cuttings and other papers:

Mary Owen correspondence.

Profile on Laurie Carmichael.

Working Women’s Information Service.

Report on Labor Women’s Conf. Mary Owen 1982.

Women and footballers.

‘Forever single’ – paper on marriage.

The best companies for women – Portfolio June 1989.

Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty 1990.

RSI policy in Pipeline (Govt) Authority.

Leigh Leigh’s murder.

National Museum of Australia brochure.

 
13 71 Examples of claims and awards  
13 72 Disputes re Federal and State Unions, 1974  
13 73

Papers:

WEL submission: Computing women’s pay in State awards.

Definition and Political Survival. – Charlotte Bunch 1978.

Radio Special Projects: Juliet Mitchell Series 24-27 Feb 1975.

The Forgotten Presence – Lesbians Mislaid, – Dorelle

Punch 1975.

The State, the Law & Us. WEL Conf. Mary Gaudron, 1975.

Report on Women Clerical Staff. NSW Motor Transport, 1974-1978.

Papers from Marxist-Feminist Conf. Act 1977.

ABC radio Guest of Honour. Malcolm Caldwell, 1975.

International Rev. Marxism- Women’s Movement

Revolutionary? – D. Gollan, 1975

Labor & the Family, Gough Whitlam, Leader Opposition, 1968.

Emancipation of Women, E.G. Whitlam, PM 1973.

Equal Pay & Equal opportunity, P.A. Riach (Monash) 1968.

Women and the ALP ” ” 1974.

Equal pay in Australia, – Richard Blandy (Adelaide)

For work equal to that of men. – J.P. Ducker, ‘The Radical’ 1969.

Employment of women in non-metropolitan areas – Frances Lovejoy 1973?

 
13 74

Press cuttings:

Industrial & Political, from Sept 1985

‘Emancipated Women from the Orient’, 1930

‘Arms trade’, 1986

 
13  75

Cuttings:

Industrial, 1987 – 1991

 
13 76

Publications:

Blueprint 1993

ACTION News 1990

NWCC News 1990, 91, 92

OSWOMEN 1990, 1992

various other newsletters

 
13 77 Miscellaneous articles 1990s  
14 78 ACTU Reports March 1986 – July 1988  
  79

ACTU Agenda paper, Sept. 83

ACTU Consolidation of ACTU Policy Decisions 51-82

ACTU Working Women’s Charter: Implementation Manual No.2 – Equal Pay

Humanist Viewpoints April and May 1980

Friends of TUTA Newsletter, Jan 1978

Budget Impact Statement: Women 1988-89

 
14 80 Youth ’75 and ’76 + few other minor newsletters of 70s  
14 81 Miscellaneous correspondence and newsletters, health issues, 1990s  
14 82-83 Brochures  
15 84

Reports:

Backdrop 1972

Another life 1973

The Late Achievers 1974

The Year of the Woman 1975

 
15 85

Reports (records of daily activities)

Jan. 1987 – (pp 1-141)

 
15 86 1987 cont’d (pp141-225) (f2)
15 87 1989 (pp 1-147) (f3)
15 88 1989 (pp 148-229) (f4)
15 89 1989 (pp 230-288) (f5)
16 90 Jan 1990 – March 1990 (f6)
16 91 April – June 1990 (f7)
16 92 July – August 1990 (f8)
16 93 Sept – Dec 1990 (f9)
16 94 Jan – March 1991 (f10)
16 95 April – June 1991 (f11)
17-18   Notebooks  
19   Miscellaneous papers  
19 96 Transcript from Shop Assistants case  
19 97 Personal odds and ends  
19 98

Letters about jobs, 1992-93

Posted copies of Overview

Accounts, Enterprise Bargaining

 
19 99

Various papers 1975-85

Labour History Society; paper by ER for seminar etc {list enclosed}

 
19 100

Press cuttings

Women

Sex Discrimination Act

Child care

 
19 101

Press Cuttings: Education – from July 1993

Press cuttings and papers 1992 (women’s agenda)

 
20 102-103 Anne Conlon Memorial Lectures, 1980-1983; 85-86  
20 104 Anne Conlon Memorial Lecture Committee  
20 105 Resource material on NSW Industrial Arbitration, Act. 1901  
20 106 Technological change  
20 107 Handwritten notes taken from documents dated 1901-06 in Archives Office  
21 108 Miscellaneous. papers – list in folder  
21 109 FBT and taxation  
21 110

Articles, including:

‘Master Builders and the beginnings of arbitration in NSW’ by Alice Coolican

‘Gender and Power cont’d’ (rough notes)

‘Do electoral systems help or hinder women’s Parliamentary representation?’ – Wilma Rule

‘Follow me inspirations – the award’

 
21 111

Articles, including:

‘Fanny Furner JP 1864-1938’ – P. Richardson

National wage case December 1986

Comments on Jane Inglis

‘Is WEL Snobbish?’

 
21 112 Australian historical cuttings, book reviews etc., explorers, painters, first government house  
21 113 Newspaper articles (1970s – miscellaneous)  
21 114-115 Letters and ms – 1970s  
22 116-117

Periodicals:

Work matters 1987-90

The Gazette (Uni of Sydney)

Miscellaneous

 
22 118 ‘Words’ – Macquarie Dictionary Society A/L etc  
22 119 Australian Dictionary of Biography  
22 120

Industrial Group

Affirmative Action

Wran’s policy on women

Profile of Department of Supply’s cleaning service

 
22 121 Human Rights Australia  
22 122

WEL Action Group

Women’s Association

National Foundation of Australian Women

 
22 123 Discriminatory Provisions in NSW Industrial Awards on grounds of sex & marital status in NSW  
23 124 Broad Left Conference – labour politics – 1986  
23 125 1990 Election candidates – full list for H of R & Senate  
23 126 NZ material – articles and book extracts about women 1987-88  
23 127-128 Letters 1983-1985  
23 129 Political Awareness Seminars for women  
23 130 Waterfront – Waterside workers’ conditions (Labour History Society)  
24 131 Draft on Labour Day Oration 1986  
24 132-133 Letters 1990  
24 134 Steinem file  
24 135-136 La Perouse and aborigines and ‘my’ story  
24 137

Miscellaneous:

Publishers’ Style Manual

Chronology Australian History

Laundry chronology

File of women

Library slips

 

Box

Folder

Instalment 17 January 1995

25 138 Diaries, 1986-89, 1992  
25 139 Address books (3)  
25 140 Notebook used at Archives Office of NSW  
25 141 Notebooks: ‘May 1987’; political notes and information  
25  142 Notebook of small press cuttings begun 26 June 1986  
26 143-144 Diaries, notebooks, 1980s +  
26 145-146 Journal July – December 1991  
26 147 Journal January – June 1992  
26 148 Journal July – September 1992  
26 149 Journal October – December 1992  
27 150 Journal January – April 1993  
27 151 Journal April (?) – June 1993  
27 152 Journal July – September 1993  
27 153 Journal October – December 1993  
27 154 Personal letters 1969 +  
28 155-156 Letters, October 1985 – April 1986  
28 157 Letters, January 1987-  
28 158 Letters, April 1987-  
28 159-160 Letters August 1987-  
29 161 Letters January 1988-  
29 162-163 Letters July 1988-  
29 164-165 Letters March 1989-  
29 166 Letters October 1989 – January 1990  
29 167 Papers, etc. by ER  
30 168 Articles, talks  
30 169-170 ‘Two thirds of a man’ – original photographs and correspondence  
30 171-172 ‘One pub’s enough’ – play  
30  173-175 Plays, including ‘Saving the Armenians’  
31 176 Playworks  
31 177 File on film ‘Snakes and ladders’: notes on film  
31 178-179 Research material and articles  
31 180-181

‘Japanese women at work’ – drafts and research material

Women at work in Japan, draft by Jurka Yasuda (?)

 
32 182 WEL and WETTANK files  
32 183 ER’s file: reports to WEL, letters etc.  
32 184 Pat Richardson’s WEL file and other writings  
32 185-187

Child care and children’s services:

Priorities review and recommendation 1974-5

Parents and children: press clippings

D. Brennan: Children’s services in Australia: the state of play – a review of Commonwealth and state polices 1972-82 (July 1982)

‘A study of work-related children’s services’ (May 1980)

Early childhood: material of the Australian Early Childhood Association and the Ethnic Child care Development Unit and others

 
33 188-192 International Women’s Year Conference, Mexico City, 1975 – papers, correspondence, clippings  
34 193-198 International Women’s Year Conference (cont.)  
35 199 National Labor Women’s Conference, 1982, Canberra: papers and cuttings  
35 200 Workforce matters  
35 201-203 General workforce material  
35 204-205 Workforce file and data  
35 206 National Wage Case, 1987  
36 207 Pay equity and other issues; includes correspondence, notes, clippings and circulars  
36 208-211 Women’s work and equal pay: drafts and research notes  
36 212 Organisation of the workplace: papers and cuttings  
37 213 Pregnancy discrimination Inquiry Report, 1992  
37 214 UN material on women  
37 215 ALP ticket, 1990  
37 216-219 Miscellaneous papers, including ‘How we would run Australia’  
38 220-222 Miscellaneous papers  
38 223 Miscellaneous papers, including articles of association of Preterm Foundation  
38 224-226 Miscellaneous papers, including ms submitted to Penguin, based on WEL newsletters  
39 227-228 Miscellaneous papers and cuttings  
39 229 Miscellaneous invitations, badges etc.  
39 230

Grace Removals

Cards from VIPs

Assorted brochures

 
39 231 Wedding photograph
40 232 Assorted brochures  
40 233 Cuttings and references, including correspondence, papers and notes  
40 234 Cuttings on women  
40 235 Pamphlets, press releases etc.  
40 236 Cuttings on various issues  
40 237 Refractory girl (1991), Unity (1991), Women at work (1991)  
40 238 Books and journals  
41 239

Publications

Record: University of Sydney Archives, 1985

Current affairs bulletin, vol. 59, no. 1, June 1982

Women at work: a review, 1975

ILO publications, 1/85, vol. 17, 1985

Virago Press. Catalogue, 1985

The Women’s Press. Catalogue, 1983

Loose in box Titles include:

WEL-informed. 1990

Australian women’s employment strategy: report. 1989-90

Women in management. 1986

Maternity leave in Australia. 1988

Women and technological change. 1982

Half way to equal: report of the inquiry into equal opportunity and equal status for women in Australia. 1992

Office of the status of women: an introduction. 1989

Women and work: issues for the 1990s

Directory of research on women in Australia. 1984

The ACTU: a short history. 1977

Pioneer women graduates of the University of Sydney. 1985

NWCC news. 1991 – 1993

 
42  

Publications – titles include:

Inkwel. 1990-91

WEL National bulletin. 1988-89

Refractory girl. 1987, 1989, 1990

Herstory of the halfway house: Women’s Liberation Halfway

House Collective, Melbourne, Australia, 1974-76.

The NSW women’s handbook. 1980

Women and work. 1989, 1990

 
43  

Publications – titles include:

Facts on women at work in Australia. 1983

From ummm…to aha!: recognising women’s skills. 1991

The national housing strategy: framework for reform. 1991

Understanding immigration 1987

Social security journal. 1981, 1982

Women’s film and video [catalogue]. 1988

The WEL papers. 1973-4

Weaving community links: the cost benefits of telephones in maintaining the social fabric through the unpaid work of women. 1993

SWOW handbook. 1979

National Museum of Australia. Women’s political history: a guide to sources. 1992

The role of women in the economy: position paper, Australia.

OECD High Level Conference on the Employment of Women. 1980

Edna Ryan standing in front of an indigenous painting in graduation garb

EDNA SPEAKS

Listen to Edna interviewed about her life in activism. 

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