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Alma Hamilton (1904–1985)

by Lorna Gilmour

In the death of Alma Hamilton on March 14, the movement for peace and socialism has lost one of its keenest supporters. Born at Double Bay, Alma was the fifth child in a policeman's family of seven children.

Alma gained her secondary education at Fort Street Girls High School and, in her final year, topped the state in the Leaving Certificate exam. On a Teachers' College scholarship, she graduated in maths and physics and taught in country high schools for several years before returning to the city.

In the city she was drawn into activity in the Teachers Federation and its committees for the advancement of education and for equal pay and opportunity for women.

Alma was a member of the Union of Australian Women, the United Associations of Women, and the Australia-USSR Society where she worked with Jessie Street on the Sheepskins for Russia campaign during the war.

She was invited to the USSR on a delegation of three educationalists in 1961 and, at a later stage, was national president of the Australian Society.

Always active in the peace movement, Alma joined the Australian Peace Council and later AICD (now PND). She took part in collecting signatures for the Stockholm Appeal, and in demonstrations and protests against French tests and the war in Vietnam.

Through friends in the teaching service and through readings of the Left Book Club, Alma became convinced that socialism offered many advantages over capitalism. Although dismayed by the divisions and conflicts which arose between countries working for socialism, Alma maintained that a system which puts people before profits is worth fighting for.

Recruited into the Women's international League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) after a big peace meeting in the Trocadero where she was one of a panel of speakers, Alma fully supported its campaigns against the US bases, against the mining and export of uranium and against chemical and biological weapons.

Alma's special gift was the warmth of her relationships with people of all ages, even on short acquaintance. Her sense of fun, her understanding, her initiative and her commitment to the cause of education, and to peace and justice, will be remembered for many years by her pupils, colleagues and a host of friends. — Lorna Gilmour.

Tribune extends condolences to her family and to her constant companions over many years.

(WILPF is holding a gathering in memory of Alma Hamilton on Sunday, April 21, at the YWCA, 5 Wentworth Avenue, Sydney, at 3 pm.)

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Citation details

Lorna Gilmour, 'Hamilton, Alma (1904–1985)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 June 2024.

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