Australian Women's Register

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

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Miller, Emma (1839 - 1917)

Born
26 June 1839
Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England
Died
22 January 1917
Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
Occupation
Women's rights activist, Union organiser and Suffragist
Alternative Names
  • Calderwood, Emma (former married name, 30 August 1874 - 21 October 1886)
  • Holmes, Emma (maiden name, 26 June 1839 - 15 September 1857)
  • Silcock, Emma (former married name, 15 September 1857 - 30 August 1874)

Summary

Emma Miller was foundation president of the Woman's Equal Franchise Association between 1894 and 1905. The vote for women in Queensland State elections was finally won in 1905; women had had the right to vote in Federal elections since Federation, and voted for the first time in the 1903 Federal election. On 2 February 1912, known as Black Friday, at the height of a general strike, Miller led a contingent of women to Parliament House, avoiding police with fixed bayonets. The women were charged by baton swinging police on their return from Parliament House. Miller reputedly stuck her hatpin into a horse ridden by the Police Commissioner, Patrick Cahill. Cahill fell from his horse and claimed to have been permanently injured. Direct political action was not Miller's only cause. She was anti-militarist and opposed conscription in World War I. She believed that 'those who make the quarrel should be the only ones to fight'. As vice-president of the Women's Peace Army, Miller attended the Peace Alliance Conference in Melbourne in 1916. She also fought hard for free speech and civil liberties. During the First World War, Miller preached equal pay to those fearing that women would take the jobs of men away at the war.

Details

Events

15 September 1857
Married Jabez Mycroft Silcock (dec.), they had four children
30 August 1874
Married William Calderwood (dec. 1880)
March 1879
Migrated to Brisbane
21 October 1886
Married Andrew Miller (dec. 1897)
1890
Helped to form a female workers' union
1891
Marched with shearers' strike prisoners when released
1891
Gave evidence to the Royal Commission into Shops, Factories and Workshops
1894 - 1905
Foundation president of the Woman's Equal Franchise Association
1903
President of the Women Workers' Political Union
1908
Delegate to the Commonwealth Labor conference
2 February 1912
Led a contingent of women to Parliament House on 'Black Friday'
1916
Delegate to the Australian Peace Alliance conference
1916 - 1917
Campaigned against the conscription referendums
22 January 1917
The flag at Brisbane's Trade Hall flew at half mast when Emma Miller died
22 October 1922
A publicly funded marble bust was unveiled in the Trades Hall

Sources used to compile this entry: 'Women in Australia's Working History', in Australian Workers' Heritage Centre, Australian Workers' Heritage Centre, 2003, http://www.australianworkersheritagecentre.com.au/07_education/working_women.htm; Elford, Ross G., 'Miller, Emma (1839 - 1917)', in Australian Trade Union Archives, University of Melbourne, 5 February, http://www.atua.org.au/biogs/ALE1200b.htm; Radi, Heather (ed.), 200 Australian Women: A Redress Anthology, Women's Redress Press, Sydney, 1988, 258 pp. Also available at http://nla.gov.au/nla.arc-78644; Young, Pam, 1926-, Proud to be a rebel : the life and times of Emma Miller, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, Qld, 1991, 286 pp; Young, Pam, 'Emma Miller', in Radi, Heather (ed.), 200 Australian women : a Redress anthology, Women's Redress Press Inc, Broadway, NSW, 1988, pp. 37-38.

Related entries

Related Exhibitions

  • Women in Australia's Working History (2002 - )

    The life of Emma Miller features as one of the case studies in the exhibition A Lot On Her Hands, the first stage of the Women in Australian's Working History project being undertaken at the Australian Workers Heritage Centre.

Archival resources

John Oxley Library, Manuscripts and Business Records Collection, State Library of Queensland

  • Workers' Educational Association of Queensland Records, 1913 - 1932, OM64-13; Workers' Educational Association of Queensland; John Oxley Library, Manuscripts and Business Records Collection, State Library of Queensland. Details

National Library of Australia Newspaper Microcopy Reading Room

  • [Biographical cuttings on Emma Miller, suffragette], BIOG; National Library of Australia Newspaper Microcopy Reading Room. Details

Anne Heywood

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

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

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