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Sarah Kelly (1883–1964)

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Sarah Kelly, née Lowry (1883-1964) dressmaker, trade union official and political candidate

Birth: 13 August 1883 at Hobart, Tasmania, daughter of James Lowry (1848-1921), a native-born labourer, and Mary Ann Elizabeth, née Biddle (1854-1892). Marriage: 35 May 1910 at Queenstown, Tasmania, to Tasmanian-born Daniel (Dan) Kelly (1880-1950), miner. They had one daughter. Death: 20 September 1964 in hospital at Hobart, usual residence Melville Street, Hobart. Religion: Catholic. 

  • Mother died when Sarah was aged 9, leaving ten children in the family. She grew up amidst poverty on a farm and with little schooling.
  • First worked in a hotel in 1902; was later a dressmaker at Mt Lyell.
  • In 1908 was elected treasurer of the Tasmanian Workers Political League at Germanstown, canvassing for support at Mt Lyell. 'Legend' has it that “she often loaned her shoes to women so that they could record their vote".
  • Secretary of the North Hobart branch of the Australian Labor Party for fifty-four years; Tasmanian representative at Federal ALP conference. Member State executive from 1941 to 1951 and from 1955 to 1957. Elected life member of the State ALP in 1935.
  • In 1936 formed State Labor Women's Conference and was secretary from 1939 to 1963. Endorsed ALP candidate for State seat of Denison in December 1941 and November 1946.
  • Appointed Justice of the Peace by 1934.
  • Cause of death: bronchopneumonia and lung abscess.

H. J. Gibbney and Ann G. Smith (eds), A Biographical Register 1788-1939, vol 1 (Canberra, 1987), p 388; The Voice, 22 November 1941; Fact, 19 October 1964; E.T.U. News, May 1965.

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Kelly, Sarah (1883–1964)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Lowry, Sarah

13 August, 1883
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia


20 September, 1964 (aged 81)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Cause of Death


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.

Political Activism