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Jessie Elizabeth Johnson (1874–1967)

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Jessie Elizabeth Johnson, née McCallum (1874-1967) tailoress and trade union official

Birth: 4 May 1874 at Glen Rock (Woy Woy), New South Wales, fourth surviving child of Duncan McCallum (c.1802-1885), farmer, born in Scotland, and native-born Alice, née Rimmer (1845-1901). Marriages: (1) She was possibly the Jessie McCallum, who married Henry Stewart, a tailor, on 4 May 1891 at St Andrews Presbyterian Church, Bourke, New South Wales. She stated she was a widow at her second marriage. (2) On 27 November 1901 at St Paul’s Anglican Church, West Perth, Western Australia to William Dartnell Johnson (1870-1948), carpenter, born in New Zealand who had won the seat of Kalgoorlie for the Australian Labor Party on 24 April 1901. They had three daughters and one son. Death: 13 August 1967, Subiaco, WA. Religion: Anglican. 

  • Her father may have been the Duncan McCallum who arrived in NSW as a convict aboard the James Pattison in 1837.
  • “Miss McCallum” founded the first union of tailoresses in Western Australia in about 1899 and became Kalgoorlie delegate to WA Trades and Labour Council.
  • In 1900 she was elected by Eastern Goldfields Tailoresses' Union to attend Perth Labor Congress, first woman to do so. While in Perth she helped organise branch of Tailoresses' Union.
  • In 1901 her husband won the seat of Kalgoorlie for the Australian Labor Party. Jessie was active in forming the Hotel and Restaurant Employees' Union, Kalgoorlie.
  • In 1907 she addressed and helped organise the Boulder branch of the Australian Labor Federation, of which she became treasurer in 1910.
  • In 1912 she was on the committee of first Labor Women's Conference. In 1927 she was foundation officer of the Women's Central Executive.
  • Cause of death: congestive cardiac failure (6 months), myocardial degeneration (years), contributory cause: bleeding haemorrhoids (2 years).

Robin Rosemary Joyce, Women's Labour: women's power? women in Western Australian labour movement from the early 1900s to the Depression, MA thesis, ANU, 1999; Westralian Worker, 30 April 1937.

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Johnson, Jessie Elizabeth (1874–1967)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 28 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • McCallum, Jessie Elizabeth
  • Stewart, Jessie Elizabeth

4 May, 1874
Woy Woy, New South Wales, Australia


13 August, 1967 (aged 93)
Subiaco, Perth, Western Australia, 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