Significant Tasmanian Women icon

The NCW originated in Washington in 1899 to 'promote unity and mutual understanding between all associations of women working for the common welfare of the community': an affiliation of societies, rather than individuals. It was essentially an upper and middle class organization with, for example, princesses, countesses, and duchesses as delegates to International Congresses.

The Tasmanian branch was established in 1889 at the request of the Governor's wife, Lady Aberdeen, to ensure Tasmanian representation at the International Council of Women conference that year. The Tasmanian delegates were Lady Hamilton, the wife of a previous governor, and Emily Dobson, the foremost Hobart philanthropist - who offered to pay her own expenses.

It was formed to promote liaison between women's organisations, with activities coordinated through the NCW executive. The governor's wife presided, and vice presidents included the bishop's wife, mayoresses, wives and daughters of prominent men.

Thirty three societies affiliated, including the many charitable groups with which Emily Dobson was involved. It was non-party and non-sectarian in principle.

Annual meetings were held at which each affiliated society made a report.


Alexander, A., The Public Role of Women in Tasmania, 1803-1914, Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Tasmania, 1989

Pearce, V., '"A Few Viragos on a Stump": the Womanhood Suffrage Campaign in Tasmania, 1880-1920', Tasmanian Historical Research Association. Papers and Proceedings, Vol. 32, No. 4 (December 1985)

Taylor, A., Mrs. Henry Dobson: Victorian "Do-Gooder" or Sincere Social Reformer, Unpublished BA Hons thesis, University of Tasmania, 1973

This entry was researched and written by Wendy Rimon, B.A.

A comprehensive history was compiled by Gladys Dodson in 1999 and is available for sale from the National Council of Women for a small fee:

History of the National Council of Women of Tasmania Inc.: Compiled for its centenary May 19, 1999. Edited by Gladys Dobson, 1999

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