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Agnew, Mary Ann Eliza (1857 - 1940)

6 November 1857
Openshaw, England
14 June 1940
South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Education reformer and Kindergarten teacher


Educated in Liverpool, England, Mary Agnew moved to Queensland in late 1890 to join the Queensland Department of Public Instruction, taking the position of Kindergarten Instructor. Agnew was given the task of raising the standard of eduction for young children. Applying the methods of Friedrich Frobel, Agnew introduced a syllabus based on the importance of education through activity and play, stressing that young children could not spend long periods of time each day engaged in intellectual learning. Influencing departmental policy on infant and kindergarten work, it was only in the last years of her career that her revolutionary work in pre-school education began to be implemented.

Sources used to compile this entry: Registrar - teachers, c. 1860 - c. 1903, Series ID: 6425, Item ID: 987878; Public Instruction Department (Agency ID 32); Queensland State Archives.

Archival resources

Queensland State Archives

Lee Butterworth

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

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

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