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Henry, Alice (1857 - 1943)

Born
1857
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died
15 February 1943
Occupation
Feminist, Trade unionist, Journalist, Writer and Lecturer
Alternative Names
  • A.L.F (pseudonym)
  • Pomona (pseudonym)
  • Wyuna (pseudonym)

Summary

Alice Henry was a feminist journalist and union activist who became a prominent and respected figure in the American women's and trade union movements in the early twentieth century.

Details

Alice Henry was the daughter of Scottish born migrants to Australia who she credits with ensuring that she developed a passionate commitment to social justice issues. She received a good, progressive education but was denied access to a university education. Nevertheless, she accepted the need to support herself, so Henry first tried teaching but then turned to journalism after a serious illness. She published her first article in 1884. For the next twenty years she wrote for the Argus, the Australasian, and occasionally other newspapers and overseas journals, under her own name or a pseudonymn, 'A.L.F.', 'Wyuna', or 'Pomona'.

At the age of 48 she embarked on an overseas tour which took in the United Kingdom and the United States. Unable to find work in England, she arrived in the United States in December 1905. Her knowledge of the Australian feminist and labour movements attracted the arrention of the prominent reformer Margaret Dreier Robins. She invited Henry to work for the National Women's Trade Union League of America (W.T.U.L.) in Chicago where, as lecturer, as field-worker organizing new branches, and as journalist, she became a key figure in the campaign for woman suffrage, union organization, vocational education, and labour legislation in the United States.

In 1908, she began to edit the women's section of the Chicago Union Labor Advocate, and in January 1911 became the founding editor of the W.T.U.L.'s monthly Life and Labor, where she remained as editor (working with Australian novelist Miles Franklin) until 1915. She served in a variety of ways and positions at W.T.U.L. including investigating the conditions of woman brewery workers (1910), author of The Trade Union Woman (1915), field organizer (1918-20), and director of the education department (1920-22). She returned to Melbourne temporarily in 1925 to address meetings and urge the importance of combining unionism and feminism. This visit inspired women to form an organisation similar to her own in Melbourne in July 1925, named the Women's Trade Union League.

Henry retired to Santa Barbara, California, in 1928. She returned to Melbourne in 1933 and died there ten years later.

Published

The Trade Union Woman, 1915
Women and the Labor Movement, 1925

Sources used to compile this entry: Kirkby, Diane, 'Henry, Alice (1857-1943)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A090273b.htm.

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Archival resources

Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales

  • Miles Franklin - papers, 1841-1954, 1841 - 1954, MLMSS 364; Franklin, Stella Maria ( Marian) Sarah Miles (1879 - 1954); Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details
  • Papers of Fred Coleman-Browne, including papers of his wife, Eileen Powell., c. 1871 - 1968, MSS 3526; Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • Baker, Kate, 1861-1953 [Papers], 1893 - 1946, MS 2022; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details
  • Papers of Alice Henry, 1857 - 1943, MS 1066; Henry, Alice (1857 - 1943); National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

Elle Morrell and Nikki Henningham

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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