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    South Australia - Women

    Women and the Church

    An Essay on Women and the Pulpit

    B6759The ethical training of the human family from birth to adolescence lies almost entirely within the province of woman, and the nature of woman tends generally to a more spiritual outlook on life than the utilitarian mind of man. It seems an anomaly, therefore, that she remains excluded from the active spiritual administrations of the Church, for which her natural gifts of mind, heart and experience would appear to have specially fitted her.

    While some barriers of nearly all trades and professions are gradually being lowered before the oncoming of the modern woman, the stronghold of the Church remains virtually intact, the seat of prejudices and traditions, which will not admit the meeting of the sexes upon equal ground.

    The puritans of the primitive Church grew to look upon women as savouring of evil and realised that to approach their God with anything like a pure heart and a clean conscience, there must be a coming out and a separation from the tempting sex, which the inflammable nature of man could not withstand.

    Vows of celibacy were taken, priestesses and prophetesses and vestal maidens were eliminated, and man settled down with a sigh of relief to his theological studies, while his wife attended to the poor and suffering. Since then the Church has offered neither place nor opportunity for woman to exercise any spiritual authority.

    Never in history have women battled for the right to preach as they have battled for the right to vote, and therein, perhaps, lies the chief reason that the church barriers are still up. As a matter of fact, with notable and rare exceptions, woman has no vocation and no desire to preach. Her methods are much more direct.

    Like the Salvation Army, she prefers to go into the highways and hedges, the alleys and the by-lanes and exert her influence direct. Her spiritual aspirations have taken practical form. She is deeply interested in sanitation, in feeding babies properly and in making men and women stand up to their personal obligations, even though she has not the authority to read the marriage service over them. She has, perhaps, small respect for the theologians as such, but much more regard for the practical workaday Christian.

    The gospel of purity and cleanliness, health, honesty and truth needs not the surplice and the stole for its presentment, and the personal touch gets nearer home than the average pulpit utterances. It may be predicted that the woman who yields her life and mental and spiritual gifts to the service of humanity will never find her destiny in the ordained priesthood, while so much work lies close at her hand.

    One wonders how many women agree with the stated notion that their desire to become ordained ministers of religion was rare. Were those of the surplice and stole trained inadequately in their roles as pastors to their flocks and their many needs? Perhaps, by a reiteration of the affirmation of the value of the 'hands on' service to humanity performed by the women, it would be self-fulfilling, and thus keep the priest in his pulpit and the women out of it? This being so, women could continue to deliver 'the gospel of purity and cleanliness, health and honesty' (sans clerical robe) and be rewarded by words of commendation from the 'Ordained' and editors.

    Miss George, 'the energetic and enthusiastic secretary of the WCTU enjoys the distinction of being the first recognised lady-preacher in the colony, having been accepted by the Wesleyan denomination and decorated with the insignia of office...' - so announced the Advertiser on 2 April 1896 and the report went on to say:

    General Notes

    "Miss Thorne's Preaching" is in the Register,
    23, 25 and 30 May 1870, pages 5b, 5a and 5d.

    A lady preacher at the Bible Christian Chapel at Port Adelaide is reported in the Register,
    16 September 1878, page 5c,
    21 September 1878, page 14a.

    "Lady Local Preacher", "first in the colony", is in the Advertiser,
    2 April 1896, page 5b.

    An obituary of Mrs John Chambers, "a pioneer woman preacher", is in the Register,
    22 September 1903, page 3e.

    "Women Preachers" is in The Mail,
    27 June 1914, page 8b,
    "Adelaide's First Deaconess" is in the Advertiser,
    31 March 1923, page 8h.

    "Women and Synod" is in the Register,
    3 September 1919, pages 6d-7a.

    "Women in the Pulpit" is in the Register on
    20 June 1914, page 10a,
    19 August 1916, page 8g,
    20 March 1926, page 8e,
    11 June 1927, page 10h and
    18 June 1927, page 13d when a correspondent quoted Dr Johnson:

    "Woman and the Church" is in the Register on
    8 June 1918, page 6c,
    "The Pulpit and the Petticoat" on
    3 September 1919, page 7a,
    "Women as Ministers - Brilliant Plea for Equality" on
    19 October 1921, page 7c.
    Cartoons are in The Critic,
    17 September 1919, page 3.

    Information on Rev Lily Longwood Smith, "the only ordained female minister in the State who is empowered to perform the marriage ceremony", is in the Register,
    4 September 1920, page 4f.

    "Admission of Deaconess[ Miss Mildred Magarey]" is in the Observer,
    7 April 1923, page 34c.

    "Women Elders - Banned by Presbyterians" is in the Observer,
    2 May 1925, page 60b.

    "Women in Church - Recognition Advocated" is in The News,
    2 May 1925, page 4e,
    "Anglican Deaconess - First in South Australia" on
    16 January 1926, page 7b,
    "Women in Pulpit" on
    23 March 1926, page 4b,
    "Woman and the Church" in the Observer,
    27 March 1926, page 45d,
    "Women as Ministers" in the Advertiser on
    7 November 1931, page 14g.

    "Woman's Place" in the church is in the Register on 7 April 1928, page 8e:

    "Women Preachers" is in the Observer,
    16 June 1928, page 21d,
    "Woman and Holy Orders" on
    4 December 1926, page 54e,
    "Women as Ministers" in The News,
    4 July 1928, page 6e,
    "The Experiences of Mrs Kiek" on
    9 March 1929, page 4g.
    "Women in the Pulpit", by Rev Mrs Winifred Kiek, is in the Register,
    29 May 1929, page 7c.

    "Woman Preacher [Mrs J.G. Jenkin]" is in The News,
    18 March 1930, page 4c.

    "Should Synod Shut Women Out?" is in The News,
    2 September 1932, page 6e.

    "Should We Have Women Preachers" is in The News,
    13 July 1933, page 8e.

    "Pulpit at Salisbury - Woman to be Put in Charge" is in The News,
    20 March 1934, page 6a.

    Women - Choose again

    Women at Law

    See South Australia - Crime, Law and Punishment- Law - Jury System for information on women jurors

    An Essay on Female Lawyers

    It was not until the second decade of the 20th century that the first woman graduated as a lawyer from the University of Adelaide but, as early as 1888, a suggestion was made that women should be permitted to undertake legal studies:

    In 1911 a Bill was introduced into the South Australian parliament providing an opportunity "of deciding whether or not women [should] be permitted to practise as lawyers". At this time "two members of the handsomer sex" were practising in Melbourne but there were none in Adelaide due to the fact that those in authority at the university contended that the right had to be conferred by Statute.

    Prejudice died hard at law, as it did in medicine - most judges opposed the innovation and the legal profession was, generally, widespread in the opinion that the "incoming of the new class of competition would lessen the rewards offered to the gentlemen of the long robe and long tongue.

    It was in 1916 that the first woman took her law degree - "the brilliant Mary Kitson." She became the first notary public in Australia and "being specially interested in juvenile delinquency, was twice granted a Carnegie Scholarship for research, and one very suitable for a capable and sympathetic woman." By 1935 female students had a Law Students' Society of their own.1

    In 1915, in an innovative mood, the Vaughan Labor government appointed four women as Justices of the Peace; they were Mrs E.W. Nicholls, President of the WCTU, Mrs T. Price, widow of the first Labor Premier of South Australia, Mrs E. Cullen, a member of the Hospitals Board and Miss C.E. Dixon, matron of the Travellers' Aid Society:

    General Notes

    "Female Law Clerks" is in the Register,
    30 May 1885, page 6d,
    4 June 1885, page 6f.

    "Women and the Law" is in the Register
    on 19 November 1904, page 6c.

    "Women Barristers" is in the Register,
    28 December 1888, page 6e:

    "Women Lawyers"is in the Register,
    25 November 1910, page 6b,
    24 October 1911, page 4b,
    17 November 1911, page 9f,
    "The Law and the Lady" in the Advertiser,
    24 January 1913, page 8e.

    The appointment of women as Justices of the Peace is reported upon in the Register,
    2 and 4 December 1911, pages 4g and 11b,
    8 and 30 July 1915, pages 8f and 6d-7d,
    Biographical details of Miss Annie S. Green, JP, are in the Register,
    14 February 1916, page 4g.
    "Women Justices" on
    20 March 1926, page 20f.

    A series of articles on women justices commences in The News,
    19 January 1928, page 5d.
    "Women Justices Not Suitable" is in The News,
    15 February 1930, page 3e.
    Photographs are in the Chronicle,
    10 July 1915, page 37.

    "Women as Jurymen" is in the Advertiser,
    22 January 1912, page 8g,
    "Women Jurors" in the Register,
    1 February 1913, page 14d,
    "Women and Juries" in the Register,
    18 July 1921, page 6d,
    "Women Ready to Serve" in The Mail,
    17 June 1922, page 3d,
    "Juries and Women" in the Advertiser,
    24 May 1926, page 7d,
    24 May 1926, page 13a,
    6, 7 and 13 October 1927, pages 8e, 3h and 13h.
    Courting and Women" is in the Register,
    12 August 1915, page 5c.
    "Adelaide's First Lady Lawyer [Laura B. Fowler]" is in the Register,
    13 December 1916, page 7d.
    Her photograph appears on 15 December 1916, page 7a;
    Also see 22 October 1917, page 7d and
    14 October 1921, page 7d under "First Lady Notary Public".
    "Women Justices" is in the Register,
    18 May 1923, page 9a,
    16 and 20 March 1926, pages 11b and 11d,
    26 May 1923, page 15d.
    "Necessity for Women Justices" is in the Observer,
    27 March 1926, page 9e.
    "Women Justices Not Suitable" is in The News,
    15 February 1930, page 3e.
    Photographs are in the Chronicle,
    10 July 1915, page 37.

    "At the Bar - Three Brilliant Adelaide Girls" is in The Mail,
    19 May 1923, page 2d.

    "The Law and the Lady - A Visit to a Legal Firm" is in the Register,
    28 April 1925, page 4d,
    9 May 1925, page 54a [Mary Kitson and Dorothy C. Somerville].
    "Women at the Bar" is in The News,
    7 February 1929, page 9d.

    "Legal Profession as a Career for Girls", by Roma Mitchell, is in the Advertiser,
    20 January 1937, page 10c.

    Women - Choose again

    Women Police

    A Brief History of Women Police

    The following was purported to be a bona fide letter sent to the local press in 1866 by a lady residing in the suburbs:

    To this suggestion a correspondent, under the penname of 'Amazonia', went a little further and proposed that:

    Mrs Mary Sullivan was a very early female police officer having been engaged in the 1870s as a 'female searcher', following the death of her husband, Michael Sullivan, a police sergeant, who died in 1866. She died in 1893 at the age of 61 years.

    In 1909 the Adelaide Rescue Society noted that much of their work was done among young women from 16 to 20 years and its committee felt that every effort should be made in preventative work and that through the agency of mothers' meetings and unions, parents should be warned of the absolute necessity of training their daughters in habits of self-control and of permitting them less freedom in the streets at night. They were of the opinion that the appointment of a certain number of female police could only be of great assistance in dealing with the problem:

    By 1914 female police officers had been appointed in overseas countries but in Adelaide, while the idea had taken root, its growth had been exceedingly limited in that the State Children's Council had sworn in two of its female employees as constables, but they did not have any power of arrest and merely acted in an advisory capacity. At this time the Commissioner of Police showed no enthusiasm for appointment of female officers to the police force but a citizen had other ideas:

    At a meeting of the Women's Non-Party Political Association in April 1915, Mrs Wragge gave an address on the subject of the introduction of women into the force which 'would raise the whole moral tone of that force.' To this suggestion a newspaper report stated that 'women police have been engaged quite recently as an experiment':

    On 27 April 1915 a deputation organised by the Social Reform Bureau waited upon the Chief Secretary and presented a case in support of the appointment of permanent women police officers:

    To this proposal the Melbourne press opined that:

    Fifty-eight applications were received for the two available positions and, on 1 December 1915, Misses Kate Cocks and Annie Ross commenced duty following service in the State Children's Department for 15 and six years, respectively. At the time it was suggested that 'the lively young spirits who wander about the parks will find in [them] friends who desire to protect them against wrong doings and temptations that might be placed in their way.'

    In 1916, questionable and objectionable conduct on the part of young couples at Glenelg and Henley Beach, alleged in a communication to the Chief Secretary, resulted in the following report from Constable Kate Cocks:

    In every city there were snares set for the unwary girl and Adelaide was no exception. The policewomen knew them and did their best to advise the girls how not to fall into them. The girl who was lured into a wine saloon was taken out, told the error of her ways and set again along the paths of rectitude. A constant eye was kept on houses of ill repute and on the streets and parks, for the young woman who was unable to get a job, and being destitute turned to a life of immorality. The work of the policewoman did not end with giving the culprit a lecture for she took a sisterly interest in her and helped her to secure both work and a home.

    In the twelve months ended 30 June 1933 more than 4,000 persons were interviewed, advised and assisted at the office of the women police. The number of persons warned were 1,617, made up of 855, 533 men and boys and 229 parents.

    By 1934 there were 14 women police officers, exactly double that of New South Wales, which was next in line, and over the years Miss Cocks was given in terms of highest appreciation an acknowledgment that her organisation of women police in Adelaide was the best in the world. Indeed, international enquiries were received frequently from foreign countries desirous of modelling their own upon the same basis.

    In his reminiscences, Mr A.R. (Bob) Calversbert mentions some of the wonderful women police characters he was privileged to know and to work with over a lifetime. Miss Wilcher was the Principal when he joined the Force in 1935, Daisy Curtis, Maggie Ottoway (an excellent golfer), Mary Priest, Isabelle Eunson, Margaret Poole, Violet Curtis, Ethel Gleeson, Connie McGrath (Principal), Mary McCarthy (Principal), Joyce Richardson (Principal), Dorothy Pyatt, Gwen Gardner, who later became a valued and loyal member of his staff, Beryl Blanden, Kathy Finnigan, later to become Det. Inspector Finnigan, who has recently retired:

    General Notes

    A proposed "Lady Police Corps" is discussed in the Register,
    24 and 28 May 1866, pages 2g and 3a.

    The death of a female police officer, Mrs Mary Sullivan, a "female searcher" in the Police Department, is reported in the Register,
    31 July 1893, page 5c, Observer,
    5 August 1893, page 30a.

    "Women Police Suggested" is in the Express,
    26 November 1909, page 1g,
    "Scope for Female Police" in the Register,
    26 November 1909, page 7c.

    "Women as Policemen" is in the Register,
    12 July 1913, page 14g.

    "The Policewoman - Is She Needed?" is in the Advertiser,
    9 January 1914, page 15d,
    "Female Constables" on
    24 July 1914, page 8d; also see
    17 January 1914, page 42a.

    "Police Women" is in the Register on
    9 and 11 March 1914, pages 6d and 15d,
    "Women Patrols" in the Advertiser,
    13 November 1915, page 15b:

    "Police in Petticoats" is in the Register,
    19 and 28 April 1915, pages 7b and 6d-7c,
    7 May 1915, page 7f,
    "Women Police" on
    18 September 1917, page 4c; also see
    1 May 1915, page 17a,
    20 November 1915, page 16e.

    Also see Register,
    16 October 1915, page 8e,
    13 November 1915, page 9c,
    1 December 1915, page 7d,
    12 February 1920, page 9g,
    "Women Police Defended" on
    16 April 1923, page 6e.

    "How We Make Love - Immodest Change to Courting Methods - Women Police Get Evidence from Seaside and Torrens Banks" is in
    The Mail,
    4 March 1916, page 4f.

    "What Our Police Women Combat" is in The Mail,
    23 February 1918, page 2e.

    "Our Women Police" is in the Register,
    12 February 1920, page 9g.

    "More Women Police" is in the Advertiser,
    21 October 1921, page 8g.

    "Women Constables in Adelaide" is in The Mail,
    30 September 1922, page 18d.

    "Training Policewomen" is in The News,
    15 March 1928, page 9e,
    "Sympathetic Women Police - Fine Work at Port Adelaide" on
    18 May 1928, page 8c,
    "Women Police" on
    1 November 1928, page 10f.

    "Women Police - Their Civilizing Work" is in the Observer,
    23 June 1928, page 60d.

    "Noble Work by Women Police" is in The News,
    28 October 1930, page 6c,
    "Rescue Work by Women Police" on
    29 September 1931, page 8e.

    "Adelaide's Good Samaritans" is in The News,
    27 January 1933, page 4f.

    "Work of Adelaide Women Police" is in the Advertiser,
    29 June 1934, page 20h.

    The life story of Kate Cocks is in the Advertiser,
    13 and 15 October 1936, pages 10d and 8d.

    Women - Choose again