Jessie Street

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Jessie Street
Born Jessie Mary Grey Lillingston
(1889-04-18)18 April 1889
Ranchi, Bihar, Bengal Presidency, British Raj
(now in Jharkhand, India)
Died 2 July 1970(1970-07-02) (aged 81)
Sydney, Australia
Nationality  Australia
Alma mater University of Sydney
Spouse(s) Sir Kenneth Whistler Street
Children Sir Laurence Whistler Street
Relatives Street family

Jessie Mary Grey Street (née Lillingston, commonly known as Lady Street; 18 April 1889 – 2 July 1970) was an Australian suffragette and an extensive campaigner for peace and human rights.

A maverick among Australia's conservative establishment, she was dubbed Red Jessie by her detractors in the right-wing media for her efforts to promote diplomacy with the USSR and to ease tensions during the Cold War. She was nevertheless ardent until death in her support for the progressive cause.[1]

Early life[edit]

A sketch of Jessie age 21 while at the University of Sydney Women's College

Jessie Mary Grey Street was born on 18 April 1889 at Ranchi, Bihar, India, the eldest child of Charles Alfred Gordon Lillingston and his wife Mabel Harriet.[2]

She was daughter of Charles Lillingston and Mabel Harriet Ogilvie.[3]


She was a key figure in Australian and international political life for over 50 years, from the women's suffrage struggle in England to the removal of Australia's constitutional discrimination against Aboriginal people in 1967. Jessie was Australia's first and only female delegate to the establishment of the United Nations, where she played a key role alongside the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt in ensuring that gender was included with race and religion as a non-discrimination clause in the United Nations Charter.[4]

She is recognised both in Australia and internationally for her activism in human rights, social justice and peace. The Jessie Street Centre, the Jessie Street Trust, the Jessie Street National Women's Library and Jessie Street Gardens exist in her honour.[5]


By wedding Chief Justice Sir Kenneth Whistler Street, Jessie married into Australia's prominent Street dynasty. The Streets have been at the fore of the New South Wales legal, political and military establishments since the 19th Century.



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