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Margaret Whitlam interviewed by Amy McGrath [sound recording]
Bib ID 2344578
Format AudioAudio, OnlineOnline [sound recording]
Whitlam, Margaret, 1919-2012, interviewee
Online Versions
Access Conditions Access open for research, personal copies and public use. 
Description 1979 Jan. 26 
1 sound tape reel (ca. 113 min.) : analog, 1 7/8 ips, mono ; 7 in. 

Tape 1. Side 1. Margaret Whitlam talks about origin and background of the Dovey Family in Australia; career of Mr Justice Dovey. Mrs Whitlam's childhood; her early interest in swimming; school and inter-school swimming; international and interstate swimming at 12 years of age; Australian Championships and Empire Games in 1938; intervarsity swimming 1939; Sydney University - economics and then social work; Metropolitan Business College - typing and shorthand. Interest in participation in the Sydney University Dramatic Society (SUDS); meeting and marrying Gough Whitlam (who was then an articled clerk and Senior Student at St Pauls College); during the war, while Mr Whitlam was in the Airforce - living in Elizabeth Bay, then living in Cronulla for 10 years - community activities; Mr Whitlam's entry into Parliament and Mrs Whitlam's subsequent electoral duties: balls, fetes, sporting carnivals, church services - and the difficulties involved.

Tape 1. Side 2. Mrs Whitlam's return to the work force in 1964 at Parramatta District Hospital as a social worker until Mr Whitlam became Leader of the Opposition and her presence was required more often in Canberra; living in Canberra; and holidays all over Australia. Her election onto bodies of the Labor Party eg., The Labor Party Women's Conference; other intrinsic obligations; the loss of a separate indentity. Current interests - Modern Greek, weaving, playing golf. Official overseas trips: SEATO Countries; European Tour in 1974; conversation and dinner with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip.

Tape 2. Side 1. China and Japan Tour in 1973; Great Wall of China; Ming Tombs; meeting Chou En-Lai; China Trip 1977: demonstration of martial arts skills; Tientssin earthquake experience. Impressions of world leaders: Lyndon Baines Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson, Helmut Schmidt in Germany; Aldo Moro, Italy; Kosygin and Molotov in the U.S.S.R. Impressions of women in Australia: Dame Enid Lyons; Dame Pattie Menzies; Lady Casey; Australian women generally. The problems of being a politician's wife; having to cushion the children from criticism; relationship with party leaders: Dr Evatt; Arthur Calwell; relationships with the press: "hoo-haa" quote on inflation; difficulty of Mr Whitlam's transition from Deputy Leader to Leader of the Party; Prime Ministerial years. Mrs Whitlam's retirement and her involvement in Mr Whitlam's new work.


Margaret Whitlam was born in Sydney on 19 November, 1919. Her father, the late Mr Justice Dovey, was a Supreme court judge in NSW. Mrs Whitlam was educated at Bondi Public School, the Sydney Church of England Girls' Grammar School and the University of Sydney from which she graduated in Social Studies in 1943. On 22 April 1942 she married Mr Edward Gough Whitlam (later to become Prime Minister of Australia). They have four children.


Recorded on 26 January 1979.

Also available online

Index/Finding Aid Note Timed summary and uncorrected transcript (typescript, 60 leaves) available. 
Subjects Whitlam, Margaret, 1919-2012 -- Interviews.  |  Chou, En-lai, 1898-1976.  |  Whitlam, Gough, 1916-2014 -- Anecdotes.  |  Politicians' spouses -- Australia -- Interviews.
Other authors/contributors McGrath, Amy, 1921-2019 interviewer

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ORAL TRC 652 (summary)
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