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Berry, Margaret (1832 - 1918)

24 August 1832
Naas, Kildare, Ireland
3 November 1918
New Farm, Queensland, Australia


Immigrating to Australia in 1856 to begin her career as a teacher, Margaret Berry was soon appointed to the position of headmistress and teacher trainer at Brisbane National School in 1860. She later moved to the Brisbane Girls' Normal School, where she became the first headmistress, serving there for forty-three years. Taking a stand for female teachers and students in Queensland, Berry was the only female teacher to give evidence to the Royal Commission into Education in 1874. She also campaigned for the equal pay of female teachers, as well as stressing her faith in the ability of senior girls to undertake advanced scientific subjects.  Late in her career, she became an official examiner of female teachers.

Berry always expected the highest standards from her pupils and above all, she wanted her them to maintain a cultured mind and charming personality.

Sources used to compile this entry: McMullen, C., 'Miss Berry: The Normal (Girls and Infants) School', in Penberthy, P. and Liddle, P. (eds), Women in History, Places of Purpose, Griffith University, Nathan, 1994; Watson, T., 'Berry, Margaret (1832 - 1918)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online , Australian National University, Canberra, 2006,

Archival resources

Queensland State Archives

  • Brisbane Normal School file; Queensland State Archives. Details
  • Female Teachers Registrar; Queensland State Archives. Details

Lee Butterworth

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

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

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