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    Nursing Sisters of 2/3rd Australian General Hospital (AGH), before their embarkation for duty overseas, 1940 - 1945, courtesy of Australian War Memorial.
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Exhibitions

  • Faith, Hope and Charity Australian Women and Imperial Honours: 1901-1989
  • Karlkurla Gold: A History of the Women of Kalgoorlie-Boulder

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Edis, Margaret Dorothy (1890 - 1981)

MBE

Born
19 April 1890
Died
14 August 1981
Occupation
Nurse educator

Summary

Margaret Edis trained at the Coolgardie Hospital and served in both World Wars; after World War II she held a number of senior administrative positions and was awarded an MBE and the Florence Nightingale Medal.

Details

Margaret Edis was born in Kyabram, Victoria and moved to Kalgoorlie in 1896. Her early memories were of the lack of water, then the garden competitions after the Mundaring to Kalgoorlie pipeline was completed in 1903. She also describes elaborate picnics to Bardoc, north of Kalgoorlie, in the wildflower season and singing and dancing classes. Her first experience of the medical profession was a three day stay in hospital with tonsillitis when "the nurses put me in a cap and took me round with them and I was fascinated by it". When she left school she attended a talk by the matron of the Kalgoorlie Government Hospital who suggested she become a nurse.

Margaret began her training at the Coolgardie hospital in 1911 where she was initially told she "would never make the grade" and was in trouble for refusing to eat her porridge on her first day. She worked in the TB ward where she was not allowed to speak to the patients, and then transferred to the Northam and Albany hospitals before returning to Kalgoorlie to continue her training.

On 10 August, 1915, at the age of 25, she enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service and was sent initially to Egypt, later nursing on the Western Front. Her unit was so close to the front line that at one time they found themselves in no-man's land during a night-time Allied retreat. After the war Margaret took a midwifery and child welfare course at King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women in Perth, specialising in the care of premature babies. With another war, she was called up in July 1940 and served as principal matron, Western Command (Western Australian Lines of Communication Area) until April 1943. Ten years later she was awarded an MBE "in recognition of her outstanding public service in the interests of persons suffering from incurable diseases". In 1965, a year before her retirement, she was awarded the Florence Nightingale medal by the International Committee of the Red Cross. As president (1945-1950) of the Western Australian branch of the Australian Trained Nurses' Association, she helped to establish (1949) the College of Nursing, Australia. She was also State president of the Trained Nurses' Guild (1947-1949) and of the Australian United Nurses' Association (1949-1953), and served (1943-1953) on the Nurses' Registration Board. Margaret Edis died in Perth on 14 August, 1981.

Sources used to compile this entry: Criena Fitzgerald and National Foundation for Australian Women, Karlkurla Gold: A History of the Women of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Australian Women's Archives Project, December 2012, http://www.womenaustralia.info/exhib/wikb/wikb-home.html; Gare, Deborah, 'Edis, Margaret Dorothy (Dot) (1890 - 1981)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 2007, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/edis-margaret-dorothy-dot-12453/text22397; Interview with Margaret Dorothy Edis, OH96; State Library of Western Australia; Service records, 1914 - 1920, B2455; National Archives of Australia.

Archival resources

National Archives of Australia

  • Service records, 1914 - 1920, B2455; National Archives of Australia. Details

State Library of Western Australia

  • Interview with Margaret Dorothy Edis, OH96; State Library of Western Australia. Details

Digital resources

Title
Group portrait of the nursing staff of the First Australian General Hospital (1AGH)
Type
Image
Date
23 September 1918
Source
Australian War Memorial

Details

Title
Nursing Sisters of 2/3rd Australian General Hospital (AGH), before their embarkation for duty overseas
Type
Image
Date
1940 - 1945
Source
Australian War Memorial

Details

Anne Skinner

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

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