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Jessie Agnes (Jess) Grant (1897–1980)

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Jessie Agnes (Jess) Grant (1897-1980) schoolteacher, trade unionist and Communist organiser

Birth: 5 August 1897 at Mount Morgan, Queensland, daughter of John Donald Grant (1859-1922), a carpenter in mine workshops, born at Urquart, Inverness shire, Scotland, and Agnes Gilmour Cornes (1870-1948), born at Thames-Coromandel, Waikato, New Zealand. Unmarried. Death: 3 August 1980 in hospital at Mount Morgan. Religion: none recorded. L. Aarons witness at funeral. 

  • Lived at Mount Morgan as a child.
  • Moved to Mt Chalmers for a short time when her father became ill. Became a pupil teacher. Continued teacher training in Rockhampton. Father became a government inspector and her family moved to Brisbane.
  • Joined Queensland Teachers' Association (QTA) when she was a trainee teacher. Became active member of QTA upon moving to Brisbane and a member of State executive representing Mackay branch.
  • Moved a motion at executive meeting in 1935 in support of sanctions against Fascist Italy for its invasion of Ethopia. Only one other person supported the motion.
  • Very soon after this her teaching appointment was transferred from Brisbane to Roma. Member for Mackay, Labor premier Forgan Smith, issued an edict to 'Keep her out there'. Resigned from the Department of Education in 1937.
  • Member of Friends of Soviet Union. Joined Communist Party of Australia in 1932. Took name of Ogilivy because of possible victimisation.
  • Moved back to Brisbane in 1937 and became organiser of CPA Brisbane district, carrying out general party work and responsibility for 'work among women'.
  • Secretary of Brisbane district committee of CPA during World War II. Worked in office of Northern Australian Workers Union in Darwin, leaving in 1942.
  • Elected to first Qld State Committee formed in 1938 and began full-time work for the CPA. Organised CPA members in Armed Forces from Sydney during WWII.
  • Member of CPA's Control Commission after WWII, which involved guarding the party's records and organisation against attack during the years when Menzies was prime minister, the 1951 Referendum for the dissolution of the CPA, the Petrov Commission and Industrial Grouper attacks. Looked after CPA's finances for the National Committee.
  • Continued work for Central Committee until 1966 when she retired.
  • Cause of death: cardiac arrest, cardiac failure, gastrointestinal haemorrhage and advanced malignancy.

Joyce Stevens, Jess Grant 1987 p.168; Tribune (Sydney), 13 August 1980 p 13.

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Citation details

'Grant, Jessie Agnes (Jess) (1897–1980)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Jess Grant, (right), 1945

Jess Grant, (right), 1945

Tribune (Sydney), 21 September 1945, p 3

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Ogilivy, Jessie Agnes

5 August, 1897
Mount Morgan, Queensland, Australia


3 August, 1980 (aged 82)
Mount Morgan, Queensland, 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.

Key Organisations
Political Activism