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Flanagan, Ellen Mary (1859–1936)

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Ellen Mary Flanagan, née Jones (1859-1936) feminist, Labor activist and trade union leader

Birth: 24 January 1859 in Shannon View (Broulee), New South Wales, daughter of Margaret Gordon. Informally adopted by her mother’s employer Robert Jones (d.1863), storekeeper, and his wife Ellen Mary, née Harper (1822-1908). Marriage: (1) 2 December 1876 to John Joseph North (1850 -1917). They had three daughters before they were divorced. (2) 20 January 1894 in Sydney, to William Manton Flanagan, railway employee. They, too, divorced. Death: 23 August 1936 in North Curl Curl, North Sydney. Religion: Catholic. 

  • According to one source, was educated at St Marys Cathedral School. Became a teacher, 'very radical in her views...determined to get reform for women'.
  • However, she was a waitress living in Albion Street, Sydney, in 1894.
  • Organiser for Australian Labor Party with Kate Dwyer 1900s. Press secretary of Labor Central Women’s Organising Committee 1911.
  • Founding secretary of Women Workers' Union 1910 to organise home workers. Prominent in anti-sweating campaign. With Dwyer first woman represented on Trade Union Congress (?). Active feminist, leaving first husband and family to devote her life to equal rights cause. Prominent Domain speaker and promoter of feminist cause in labour movement.
  • From 1914 to 1924 assistant manageress of NSW Women's Employment Agency.

Sources
Suzy Baldwin (ed), Unsung Heroes & Heroines of Australia (Elwood, Victoria, 1988), pp. 85-86 [has some incorrect information]; Edna Ryan and Ann Conlon, Gentle Invaders:Australian Women at Work (Ringwood, Vic, 1975).

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Citation details

'Flanagan, Ellen Mary (1859–1936)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/flanagan-ellen-mary-32449/text40247, accessed 2 December 2022.

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