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Preserving The Past Of Australia’s First Female Parliamentarian

On Monday 19th December 2016, a ceremony followed by a morning tea was held here at the Centre, to mark the official hand-over of the collection of artefacts from the life of Edith Cowan OBE, Australia’s first female parliamentarian, which was gifted to the WA State Library by the Peter Cowan Writers Centre.
It was attended by ECU Chancellor and Mrs Cowan’s grandnephew the Honourable Dr Hendy Cowan AO, ECU Vice Chancellor Professor Steve Chapman, CEO of the State Library of WA and State Librarian Ms Margaret Allen, Professor Glen Phillips, ECU Honorary Professor School of Arts and Humanities, Mr Keith Melrose President, the Peter Cowan Writers Centre, and other guests from the State Library and the PCWC.

The material included an Order of the British Empire signed by King George V, as well as many photographs and documents. With the Peter Cowan Writers Centre gifting these items, it will allow them to be preserved, protected and digitised so they are available for future historians, researchers and writers. Mrs Cowan played a significant role in the social and political development of WA. State Library CEO and State Librarian Margaret Allen said it was a significant collection. “Edith Cowan was a significant social reformer in addition to being the first woman elected to any Australian parliament. She served from 1921-1924. Adding materials to the State Library’s collections that help tell her story is important for our heritage,” she said.

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