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Piddington, Marion Louisa (1869 - 1950)

Born
23 December 1869
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Died
2 February 1950
Castlecrag, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation
Birth Control Advocate, Eugenicist and Sex Reformer
Alternative Names
  • Lois (pen name)
  • O'Reilly, Marion Louisa (birth name)

Summary

Marion Piddington was a significant figure in early twentieth century eugenic debate in Australia. She took an interest in a wide range of sexual and reproductive concerns, and in the growth of sex education and contraceptive information, and was involed in the establishement of Racial Hygiene Association of New South Wales in 1926. After falling out with that organisation, she formed a rival organization, the Institute of Family Relations, in 1931.

Profoundly influenced by the work of Marie Stopes, she argued for a lifting of the stigma from unmarried motherhood in her 1923 pamphlet The Unmarried Mother and Her Child. In the early 1920s she was involved in the Workers' Educational Association eugenics circle, and delivered sex education lectures encouraging parents to be frank with their children on matters sexual. She believed in the right of women to sexual fulfilment in the context of marriage.

Piddignton belonged to that branch of eugenic thought which came to support birth control, as a means of controlling human reproduction and thus achieving human betterment. She wrote in the late 1920s and early 1930s for Smith's Weekly and such journals as Herself and Health and Physical Culture on sex education and sexual morality, as well as on the need to sterilize the mentally deficient, a classic eugenist concern.

Sources used to compile this entry: Curthoys, Ann, 'Piddington, Marion Louisa (1869-1951)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A110231b.htm; Daniels, Kay, Murnane, Mary, Picot, Anne and National Research Program (Australia) (eds), Women in Australia : an annotated guide to records, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1977.

Related entries

Friend and Colleague

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 Marion Piddington, sex educationalist, BIOG; National Library of Australia Newspaper Microcopy Reading Room. Details

Nikki Henningham

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

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

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ISSN 2207-3124