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Sheila Agnes Cleary (1906–1991)

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Sheila Agnes Rose Cleary, née McLennan (1906-1991) teacher and trade unionist 

Birth: 24 September 1906 at Randwick, New South Wales, daughter of Scottish-born Alexander McLennan (1868-1945), sailmaker, foundation member of Randwick branch of the Australian Labor Party, and secretary of Sailmakers Union, and Victorian-born Catherine ‘Katie’, née Sloan (1872-1945). Marriage: 21 December 1929 at the Presbyterian church, Randwick, to Sydney-born Harold Leslie Cleary (1906-1979), carrier, later clerk. They had two daughters and two sons, one named Ken. Death: 9 May 1991 in a nursing home at Springwood, NSW. 

  • From 10 June 1924 to 1971 she was an infants’ teacher and later infants’ mistress in numerous schools in NSW.
  • Active in NSW Teachers Federation from 1924. At forefront of campaigns to repeal Married Women Teachers and Lecturers Act and Equal Pay Campaign, aligned with Sam Lewis.
  • NSW Teachers Federation councillor for 31 years, frequently acting as secretary. Foundation member of Teachers' Club. Board member of ten years.
  • Life member of Randwick Literary Institute and Randwick Historical Society, and 'an early environmentalist'.
  • Retired to Springwood, in the Blue Mountains, NSW, in 1971.
  • Cause of death: cerebro-vascular arteriosclerosis and congestive cardiac failure.
  • Author of A Manual for Infants’ Teachers (Sydney, n.d.) and children’s stories in Aussie Animals (Sydney, [1946?]), and Aussie Birds (Sydney, [1948?].
  • Body donated to the University of New South Wales.

20 May 1991.

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Citation details

'Cleary, Sheila Agnes (1906–1991)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 13 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • McLennan, Sheila Agnes

24 September, 1906
Randwick, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


9 May, 1991 (aged 84)
Springwood, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

Cultural Heritage

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