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Chisholm, Alice Isabel (1856 - 1954)

Dame, DBE, OBE

Born
3 July 1856
Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia
Died
31 May 1954
Occupation
Superintendent and Charity worker

Summary

Alice Chisholm, who was born in country New South Wales, was known for the provision of canteen services for soldiers in the middle east during World War I. On travelling to Egypt to be near her son who was wounded at Gallipoli, she was concerned at the inadequate amenities for soldiers in Cairo and subsequently, using mainly her own resources, established canteens in Heliopolis, an outer suburb of Cairo, and at Kantara, on the west bank of the Suez Canal. Ably assisted by Verania McPhillamy and Miss Rout, they developed Kantara into a soldiers' club. Known as 'Mother Chisholm's', it provided hot showers and competent, caring service to the thousands of soldiers who spent their leave there. At the end of the war the women insisted that the profits from the canteens be used to provide canteen facilities on the troop ships which were carrying the men home. In recognition of her work in Egypt, Alice Chisholm was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1918 and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire on 3 March 1920 for organisation of canteens for the troops. Her later work included the presidency of the Cumberland branch of the Country Women's Association from 1923-1927, and a commitment to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Sources used to compile this entry: Hill, A J, 'Chisholm, Dame Alice Isabel (1856-1954)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A070652b.htm.

Archival resources

Australian War Memorial Research Centre

  • A general view of Mrs Chisholm's canteen, 1918, BOO 639; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Informal portrait of Mrs Chisholm sitting at a table in her room at the canteen which she organised and supervised., 1918, B00646; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Port Said, Egypt c1916. Mrs Alice Chisholm and her daughter, both of Woollahra and Pennant Hills, NSW, 1916, P00859.019; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Portrait of Mrs Chisholm sitting near a building with a cat., 1918, B00640; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details

National Archives of Australia, Sydney Office

  • Dame Alice Chisholm interviewed by Ida Elizabeth Jenkins, 1952, C102; National Archives of Australia, Sydney Office. Details

National Library of Australia Newspaper Microcopy Reading Room

  • Biographical cuttings on Dame Alice Chisholm, known as the Canteen lady of World War 1; Chisholm, Alice Isabel (1856 - 1954); National Library of Australia Newspaper Microcopy Reading Room. Details

Rosemary Francis

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

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

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