Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

Skip to content
  • Click to view this Image

    Nancy Burbidge, on field location with binoculars, ca.1970, c. 1970, courtesy of National Library of Australia, vn4739209. Used with permission..
    Details

Exhibitions

  • From Lady Denman to Katy Gallagher: A Century of Women's Contributions to Canberra
  • The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia
  • Where are the Women in Australian science?

Use Trove to find more resources by/about this Woman

  • Trove

Burbidge, Nancy Tyson (1912 - 1977)

AM

Born
5 August 1912
Cleckheaton, Yorkshire, England
Died
4 March 1977
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Occupation
Botanist and Conservationist

Summary

Nancy Burbidge worked at the CSIRO between 1946-1973, rising from systematic botanist to Curator of the Herbarium. From 1973 to 1977 she was scientific leader of the Flora of Australia project. Burbidge published several books on Australian plants.

Details

Nancy Burbidge emigrated to Australia with her parents in 1913, and was educated at Katanning (Kobeelya) Church of England Girls' School (founded by her mother Nancy Eleanor in 1922), Bunbury High School and the University of Western Australia. She obtained her Bachelor of Science (BSc) in 1937, Master of Science (MSc) in 1975, and Doctor of Science (DSc) in 1961.

Upon graduating in 1937, Burbidge was awarded the prize of a free passage to England by a group of shipping companies. She spent eighteen months there at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew.

In 1943 Burbidge was appointed assistant agronomist at the Waite Agricultural Research Institute in Adelaide, where she started working on the regeneration of native pastures in the arid and semi-arid regions of South Australia. Burbidge was appointed to the new position of systematic botanist in the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry, Canberra, in 1946. Before taking a year's secondment in 1953 to be Australian botanical liaison officer back at the Kew herbarium, London, Burbidge was editing the Australasian Herbarium News and was secretary of the systematic botany committee of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (1948-1952).

Burbidge published several books on Australian plants and illustrated many with her own drawings. In 1960 she was a founding member of the National Parks Association of the ACT (going on to be twice president, secretary, and a committee member for eleven years), and was prominent in lobbying for the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and Namadgi National Park. She was also a member of the Australian Federation of University Women (president of the Canberra association 1959-1961), and the Pan-Pacific and South East Asia Women's Association (president 1957-1958 and international secretary 1961-1968).

Burbidge was awarded the 1971 Clarke medal for her achievements in taxonomic botany and ecology by the Royal Society of New South Wales. She is commemorated by an altar-frontal showing banksias and honey-eaters in St Michael's Anglican Church, Mount Pleasant, Perth, and by the Nancy T. Burbidge Memorial, an amphitheatre in the National Botanic Gardens, Canberra.

Sources used to compile this entry: 'Burbidge, Nancy Tyson (1912 - 1977), Biographical Entry', in Bright Sparcs, Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, 2002, http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/bsparcs/biogs/P002283b.htm; From Lady Denman to Katy Gallagher: A Century of Women's Contributions to Canberra, Australian Women's Archives Project, February 2013, http://www.womenaustralia.info/exhib/ldkg; Chippendale, George M., 'Burbidge, Nancy Tyson (1912-1977)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A130336b.htm.

Related entries

Digital resources

Title
Nancy Burbidge, on field location with binoculars, ca.1970
Type
Image
Date
c. 1970
Source
National Library of Australia, vn4739209. Used with permission.

Details

Anne Heywood

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

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

© Copyright in The Australian Women's Register is owned by the Australian Women's Archives Project
and vested in each of the authors in respect of their contributions from 2000

http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0206b.htm

The Australian Women's Register is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

The Australian Women's Register is published quarterly by the Australian Women's Archives Project
ISSN 2207-3124