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Louisa Mary Cross (1879–1957)

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Louisa Mary Cross, née Collins (1879-1957) bookbinder and trade union official 

Birth: 1879 at Richmond, Victoria, daughter of James Robert Collins (1846-1903), a boot salesman born in County Tipperary, Ireland, and native-born Janet Frances, née Stewart (1845-1933). Marriage: 27 January 1917 at St Joseph's Church, South Yarra, to Francis Albert Cross (1884-1942), a stoker, born in Leicester, England. They had no children. Death: 30 July 1957 at West Preston. Religion: Catholic. 

  • In early 1900s she worked as a bookbinder or stationer in Melbourne.
  • She was an early member, and in 1912 social committee-member, of the Women Bookbinders' and Stationery Employees' Union founded by Ellen Mulcahy in 1911. She was secretary from November 1914 [first as Miss Collins later as Mrs Cross] until 1921, when the union was merged into the Printing Industry Employees’ Union of Australia [PIEUA], of which she was elected organiser, overcoming unsympathetic attitude towards women in printing trades union.
  • Appointed Justice of the Peace in August 1927.
  • A 'solid personality' who 'carried out her duties in an atmosphere of more or less mutual suspicion and antagonism'. Accused of stacking union board of management in 1931. Expected to hold position of organiser for short term but held it from 1921 to 1951.
  • In 1930 she was one of the advocates for [and holiday camp leaders of] a Catholic welfare training centre.
  • Prominent in achieving 44-hour week in Victorian printing trade, gathering evidence for Dr Ethel Osborne for related arbitration case, later associated with successful 40-hour week case.
  • Long-term member and sometime president of the Australian Labor Party’s Women's Central Organising Committee.
  • Cause of death: coronary occlusion, congestive cardiac failure, hypertension, myocarditis and chronic bronchitis.

Raelene Frances, The politics of work; gender and labour in Victoria, 1880-1939 (Cambridge,1993); Merrifield papers, LaTrobe Library, Melbourne; Labor Call (Melbourne), 9 September 1951.

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Cross, Louisa Mary (1879–1957)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Collins, Louisa Mary

Richmond, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


30 July, 1957 (aged ~ 78)
Preston, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Key Organisations
Political Activism