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Papers of Edna Ryan, 1948-1993 [manuscript]
Bib ID 168173
Format ManuscriptManuscript
Ryan, Edna, 1904-1997
Related Online
Access Conditions Available for research. Not for loan. 
Description [1948-1993] 
6.60 m. (44 boxes) 

MS 9140 comprises press clippings, subject files, diaries, notebooks, correspondence, articles, drafts of books, conference papers, submissions and publications on issues such as equal pay for women, employment conditions, child care, abortion and trade union matters. People, organisations and events mentioned include: Anne Conlon, Wendy Fatin, Wendy McCarthy, Mary Owen, Pat Richardson, Mum Shirl, Gough Whitlam, Women's Electoral Lobby, Australian Labor Party, National Foundation of Australian Women, Women's Trade Union Commission, International Women's Year Conference (1975) and National Women's Conference (1990) (43 boxes).

The Acc09.172 instalment is in two parts comprising correspondence, news cuttings, photographs and writings. The first segment is largely correspondence between Edna Ryan and journalist Barbara Curthoys regarding Jack Ryan, Edna Ryan's husband, and the Communist Party of Australia, but also includes photographs (uncaptioned), family correspondence, a small publication on "The writings of Norm Jeffery" and a copy of an article, "Communism in Australia in the twenties: the career of Jack Kavanagh". The second segment consists of letters from Edna Ryan to her daughter Julia Ryan, including news cuttings and a copy of "One is enough, a drama in seven scenes" by Edna Ryan (1 box).


Feminist and campaigner for equal pay. Edna Ryan (née Nelson) was born in Sydney in 1904. One of a large family, Ryan had to leave school early to find work as a clerk, but spent many years studying at evening college. She was an early member of the Communist Party and also of the International Workers of the World but left the Communist Party after her partner, Jack Ryan, was expelled. In 1935, the Ryans joined the Labor Party. Later Edna Ryan was an early campaign manager for the future prime minister Gough Whitlam. Ryan stood unsuccessfully for the State seat of Mosman as an ALP candidate in 1953 and was an alderman and Deputy Mayor of Fairfield Council between 1956 and 1965. As a foundation member of the Women's Electoral Lobby in 1972, Ryan participated in campaigns to persuade the Whitlam Government to reopen the National Wage Case. In 1974, the Arbitration Commission extended to women the same minimum wages as men. In 1993, Ryan successfully lobbied the Minister for Industrial Relations, Laurie Brereton, to ensure that his legislation guaranteed women would be no worse off under enterprise bargaining. Ryan wrote numerous articles, conference papers, submissions to government and two books, Gentle invaders (1975) and Two thirds of a man (1984). She accepted an honorary doctorate from Sydney University in 1985 but rejected an Order of Australia, saying "They are only giving it to me because I am old". Edna Ryan had three children, Julia, Lyndall and Patrick, whom she raised alone after Jack Ryan died at an early age. Ryan died in Canberra in 1997.


Manuscript reference no.: MS 9140, MS Acc09.172.

Associated materials: Papers of Beryl Henderson, 1973-1992 MS 9360.

Related Material Edna Ryan interviewed by Lucy Taksa in the NSW Bicentennial oral history collection; Located at; National Library of Australia Oral History collection ORAL TRC 2301/156.  Interview with Edna Ryan; Located at; National Library of Australia Oral History collection ORAL TRC 2742. 
Index/Finding Aid Note Finding aid available online. 
Subjects Ryan, Edna, 1904-1997 -- Archives.  |  Conlon, Anne, 1939-1979.  |  Fatin, Wendy.  |  McCarthy, Wendy.  |  Owen, Mary.  |  Richardson, Pat, 1933-  |  MumShirl, 1921-1998.  |  Whitlam, Gough, 1916-2014.  |  Women's Electoral Lobby (Australia)  |  Australian Labor Party.  |  National Foundation for Australian Women.  |  Women's Trade Union Commission.  |  World Conference of the International Women's Year (1975 : Conference Centre of the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs)  |  National Women's Conference (1990 : University of Canberra)  |  Feminists -- Australia -- Archives.  |  Political activists -- Australia -- Archives.  |  Women political activists -- Australia -- Archives.  |  Women historians -- Australia -- Archives.  |  Women -- Employment -- Australia.  |  Women's rights -- Australia.
Time Coverage 1948-1993 
Occupation Feminists.  |  Women's rights activists.  |  Historians.
Terms of Use Copying of Edna Ryan's copyright material is permitted for research purposes. 


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    MS Acc09.172 Special Collections Reading Room - Prior notice required
    Unprocessed instalment
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