- 22 June 1861
West Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
- 25 November 1940
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
- Tailoress, Trade unionist and Women's rights activist
- Alternative Names
- Swanton, Mamie
Mary Swanton was an staunch labour activist who was particularly concerned about the conditions endured by working women. Born in Melbourne, she moved to Perth, Western Australia, in 1889 where she worked as a tailoress. She was a member of the Australian Native's Assocation, a strong supporter of women's suffrage and a founding member (secretary) of the Perth branch of the Australian Women's Assocation.
In 1900 she became the foundation president of the Perth Tailoresses' Union until its amalgamation with the Tailors' Union in 1905. She was elected to the presidency of the combined union in 1910. Swanton was also a foundation member of the Karrakatta Club, and a friend and associate of reformist women such as Katharine Susannah Prichard.
A lifelong commitment to the cause of labour did not limit her criticism of the movement when it ignored women's working conditions.
Sources used to compile this entry: 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; Grahame, Emma, 'Swanton, Mary Hynes (1861-1941)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A120166b.htm.