Edith Emily Dornwell

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Edith E. Dornwell, graduate and former student of the Advanced School for Girls

Edith Emily Dornwell BSc (31 August 1865 – 18 November 1945) (later Raymond) was the first woman in Australia to graduate with a Science degree, the first woman to graduate from the University of Adelaide and the first person, male or female, to graduate with a science degree at the University of Adelaide.[1]

Early life[edit]

Dornwell was born in New Zealand to German immigrant Bernhardt Carl Friedrich "Bernard" Dornwell and his wife Sarah.[2] The family later to moved to Adelaide, South Australia where Dornwell initially studied at the State Central Model School.[3]

Following her father's early death when she was just 14, Dornwell won a bursary to attend the Advanced School for Girls (now Adelaide High School) the only State High School in South Australia during the 19th Century.[4] Whilst at this school in 1880 she won first prize and £20 for the Exhibition for Girls examination.[4] She matriculated in 1882 with honours in French, German, animal physiology and modern history.[2]

University Education[edit]

Dornwell was accepted into a Bachelor of Science degree at The University of Adelaide in 1883, just two years after the University amended its Charter to allow women students.[4] She was one of the first women to enrol at the University and their first student, male or female, to enrol in a Science degree.[4]

Dornwell excelled in her studies. In April 1883 she received the Sir Thomas Elder Prize in Physiology, for which she received a microscope.[5]

In 1889 a representative of the University of Adelaide stated that "The most brilliant student in the science course, up to the present, has been a woman— Miss E Dornwell, who passed the first, second, and third year of that course first class in elementary physiology. As will be seen by reference to the winners of Sir T. Elder's prizes the women have been distinctly superior to the men."[6]

Encouraged by her physiology teacher Professor Edward Stirling, Dornwell stated "Dr Stirling said that if I were successful, and he was convinced that I would be, I would gain the distinction of being the first woman graduate of the university, and the first woman to graduate in science in Australia."[7]

Dornwell graduated in 1885 with first class honours in physics and physiology.[2] At her graduation the University's Chancellor, Chief Justice Sir Samuel Way said "In your distinguished undergraduate career, and in the manner in which you have taken that degree, you have not merely done honour to the University, but you have vindicated the right of your sex to compete, and to compete on equal terms, with other undergraduates for the honours and distinctions of the University."[8]

Teaching career[edit]

Following her graduation Dornwell taught mathematics, physics, Latin and physiology at her former school, the Advanced School for Girls.[9] In 1887 she moved to Hawthorn, Victoria and became the resident teacher at the Methodist Ladies College and in 1890 she accepted the post as headmistress at the private Riviere Ladies' College in Woolahra, New South Wales.[2] Whilst at Riviere Dornwell applied for the position of Principal at the newly established Women's College at Sydney University, a post she did not win.[10]

Marriage, Family and later life[edit]

Dornwell married Lionel Charles Raymond at St Andrew's Church, Walkerville on 13 February 1895. Following their marriage Dornwell moved to Fiji where Raymond had accepted a post to the Commonwealth Sugar Refineries.[2] The couple went on to raise two sons, Oliver and Roland, who were sent back to Sydney to continue their secondary education in Australia.[2]

Upon her husband's retirement Dornwell returned to Sydney where she was active in the Lyceum Club and the National Council of Women.[10]

Having never pursued her science qualifications, Dornwell died in Sydney 18 November 1945 aged 80.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cook, Andrew. "Edith Emily Dornwell and the Research Centre for Women's Studies – Part One". Archival Allsorts, The University of Adelaide. The University of Adelaide. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Creese, Mary S and Thomas M (8 February 2010). Ladies in the Laboratory III: South African, Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian Women in Science: Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries. Scarecrow Press. p. 61. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  3. ^ Creese, Mary S and Thomas M (8 February 2010). Ladies in the Laboratory III: South African, Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian Women in Science: Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries. Scarecrow Press. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d Mackinnon, Alison (28 Jan 1997). Love and Freedom: Professional Women and the Reshaping of Personal Life. Cambridge University Press. p. 81. 
  5. ^ "University of Adelaide". South Australian Register. 5 April 1883. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  6. ^ Kirby, Rev C J (18 May 1899). "Women and the Australian Universities". South Australian Chronicle. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  7. ^ Mackinnon, Alison (1997). Love and Freedom: Professional Women and the Reshaping of Personal Life. Cambridge University Press. pp. 81–82. 
  8. ^ "Australia's first female graduate". Lumen (Winter 2014): 5. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "Teachers". The University of South Australia. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Mackinnon, Alison (1986). The New Women: Adelaide's early women graduates. Wakefield Press. p. 34. 

External links[edit]