Tuesday, April 19, 2016 at 05:45 PM


Royal Historical Society of Victoria
239 A'Beckett St
Melbourne, VIC 3184
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Gerardine Horgan


Victorians are invited to explore mainstream feminism in Australia and the complex issue of emotions, as the Royal Historical Society of Victoria’s April lecture delves into the history of the National Council of Women of Australia (NCWA).

To be held on Tuesday 19 April, Professor Emerita Marian Quartly and Dr Judith Smart will discuss their recently published book Respectable Radicals: A History of the National Council of Women of Australia 1896–2006 and research they have conducted on the history of emotions since its release. 

“For much of the twentieth century, the NCWA was the peak body representing women to government in Australia and, through the International Council of Women, to the world,” explained Dr Smart. 

“The history of the NCWA tells the story of mainstream feminism in Australia, of the long struggle for equality at home and at work – something still far from achieved. 

“In these days when women can no longer be imagined as speaking with one voice, we still need something of the optimistic vision of the leaders of NCWA. 

“But this also raises the question - how was speaking with one voice achieved? Where did the optimistic vision of those leaders come from? What part did their polite and respectable demeanour play in building and projecting consensus? And what other tactics and techniques did they employ? 

“Subsequent reading on history of the emotions scholarship has provided us with new tools and concepts for looking at these questions and we’ll share our findings during the evening.” 

About the speakers

Marian Quartly holds the position of Professor Emerita at the Monash School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies. Her long-term research concern is the history of family in late twentieth-century Australia. She has recently completed two large co-operative projects: a history of Australian adoption, and a history of the National Council of Women of Australia. 

Judith Smart is Principal Fellow at the University of Melbourne and Adjunct Professor at RMIT University. She has published on Australian women’s organisations in the first half of the twentieth century, as well as on women and political protest, and the Australian home front during World War I. She has also co-edited, with Shurlee Swain, The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia

Quartly and Smart have co-authored Respectable Radicals: A History of the National Council of Women of Australia, 1896–2006 (2015) and have also co-authored with Jan Hipgrave Stirrers with Style: Presidents of the National Council of Women of Australia and its Predecessors

About the event 

Date:                            Tuesday 19 April

Time:                            5.45pm – 6.45pm; refreshments from 5.15pm

Address:                       Royal Historical Society of Victoria, 239 A’Beckett Street, Melbourne 

Cost:                            $10 non-members; free for members of the RHSV

Enquiries:                     t: (03) 9326 9288  e: [email protected]  w:

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The History Council of Victoria acknowledges the State Library of Victoria and the Public Record Office Victoria for supply of the archival images that appear on this website.

We acknowledge the National Film and Sound Archive for the right to use of the video footage on the home page, titled "Melbourne: Life in Australia (1966)".

Image credits

  • Italian sailors on ship at Port Melbourne 1938, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
  • Chinese procession in Collins near Elizabeth Street 1901, Harvie & Sutcliffe, photographers, State Library of Victoria
  • People’s homes, Aboriginal station Coranderrk 1878, Fred Kruger Photographer, State Library of Victoria
  • Chinese nurses at Children’s Hospital under scholarship 1947, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
  • Ladies physical culture class VRI Melbourne c1931, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12903/P0001, 011/02
  • Melbourne Cup, Derby and Oaks Day, Flemington Racecourse 1936, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12903/P0001/4802, 372/30
  • Flinders Street viaduct at foot of Market Street with advertisement for McRobertson’s Chocolate on bridge, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12800/P0003, ADV 1342