Edith Cowan's Membership of Voluntary Organisations and Advisory Bodies

  • Anglican Social Questions Committee (Vice Chairman)
  • Anglican Synod (Co-opted member, 1921-1931)
  • Children's Protection Society (Life member)
  • Country Women's Association (Founding member, 1923)
  • Co-Freemasonry Committee
  • District Nurse Society-Cottesloe (President)
  • Girls' Friendly Society (Associate Member)
  • Girl Guides Association (Foundation Member)
  • Greater Perth Red Cross Appeal Committee
  • House of Mercy (Alexander Home/Ngala)
  • Housewives League (Vice President)
  • Hospital Advisory Board (Secretary, 1916)
  • Immigration Council (Women's Auxiliary)
  • Infant Welfare Association (Vice-President)
  • King Edward Memorial Maternity Hospital (Advisory Board)
  • Karrakatta Women's Club (1894, President 1910-1912, Life Member 1919)
  • Maimed and Limbless Soldiers Appeal (Women's Auxiliary President)
  • Military Nurses Rest Home Committee (President)
  • Ministering Children's League (President)
  • Mother's Union (Member)
  • National Council for the Advancement of Women (President, WA Branch, 1913-1921)
  • North Fremantle Board of Education
  • Nurses Registration Board
  • Order of International Co-Freemasonry (1916-1928)
  • Perth Hospital Board and Finance Committee
  • Red Cross (Foundation member and member of various committees)
  • Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (15 years)
  • Sex Education in Schools Committee
  • Soldiers Memorial Committee (National Council of Women Representative)
  • Soldier Welcoming Committee (Chairperson)
  • Soldiers Welfare Committee (President, Ladies General Committee)
  • St George's Reading Society
  • St Mary's School (Governor)
  • Town Planning Association
  • Venereal Diseases Council
  • Western Australian League of Nations Board
  • Western Australian Historical Society (Founding Member, 1926)
  • Western Australian 1929 Centenary Celebration
  • Chairman of the Historical Arts and Science and Pageantry Group Committee
  • Convenor of the Committee for the Old Time Ball
  • Western Australian Industrial League (Women's Executive)
  • Western Australian Women's Justice Association (Vice-President)
  • Western Australian Products' Board
  • Women's Citizen League (President)
  • Women's Electoral League
  • Women's Service Guild (Foundation Member, 1906)
  • Young Women's Christian Association
A selection of some voluntary and community organisations in which Edith Cowan was a founding member

Karrakatta Club (1894, President 1910 - 1912, Life Member 1919)

Edith Cowan became concerned with social issues and injustices in the legal system, especially with respect to women and children. In 1894, she helped found the Karrakatta Club, that believed women "educated themselves for the kind of life they believed they ought to be able to take". In time, she became the club's president. The Karrakatta Club became involved in the campaign for women's suffrage, successfully gaining the vote for women in 1899.

Women and the Right to Vote

Women's Service Guild (Foundation Member 1906)

She helped form the Women's Service Guild in 1909 and was a co-founder of the Western Australian National Council of Women, serving as president from 1913 to 1921 and vice-president until her death. The Women's Service Guild of Western Australia formed a core feminist connection for the exchange of feminist strategies and ideas with international feminism for much of the twentieth century. It worked to raise the status of women and improve the welfare of children, primarily through legislative reform and initiated a wide range of campaigns on local, national and international levels.

Red Cross (1914)

Edith Cowan worked in a variety of positions for the Red Cross, as a foundation member of the Divisional Committee in Western Australia and as one of the first two women on the executive committee. She became vice president and later president of the Central Branch as well as a member of the Comforts Committee. She travelled extensively throughout Western Australia speaking to a large number of branches. She was also chairman of the Greater Perth Red Cross Appeal Committee.

Faith (1916)

As well as being a foundation member of Co-Freemasonry in Western Australia in 1916, Edith Cowan was the Anglican Church’s Social Questions Committee’s first woman member the same year. After her election to parliament in 1923 she was a co-opted member of the Church Synod.

Country Women's Association (Founding Member 1923)

Edith Cowan was a founding member of the Country Women's Association in 1923. It was formed to meet the needs of the time – to help women in isolated rural communities and to provide a voice to Government to seek solutions to the difficulties facing families in such areas.

The Royal Western Australian Historical Society (1926)

Edith Cowan was a founder of the (Royal) Western Australian Historical Society in 1926 and contributed to its journal—her daughter Dircksey was its first keeper of records. She was active in planning the state's 1929 centenary celebrations. Until her last illness she maintained her committee and social work.


A unique position : a biography of Edith Dircksey Cowan, 1861-1932 / [by] Peter Cowan. Nedlands, WA: University of Western Australia Press, 1978

Edith Cowan (1861-1932) - Reserve Bank of Australia, Australia's Banknotes/People on Bank Notes / Edith Cowan website accessed September 2015

Edith Cowan MLA Western Australia 1921-1927 In Australian Women's History Forum website, accessed September 2015

Parliament of Western Australia
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