Obituaries Australia

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: use double quotes to search for a phrase
  • Tip: lists of awards, schools, organisations etc

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Ellen Margaret (Nell) McLeod (1894–1985)

The recent death of well-loved comrade Nell McLeod has saddened her many friends. It has stimulated memories of comrades of Nell's era, for she was a fine representative of that generation.

Nell joined the Communist Party in 1939 as a result of questioning the shocking conditions of the depression. .."full and plenty for some and starvation for others. ..the humiliation of the unemployed lining up at police stations for rations; like tossing crumbs to the poor".

Her experiences with her husband unemployed led her to actively assist others by joining many organisations and working to improve the quality of life and to change the system. She first joined the Women's Vigilance Organisations consisting of militant women who met at the Trades Hall.

At the threat of impending war, that became the Women's Peace Army and Nell became its delegate to the "Citizens Association for Relief of the Distressed in China" and to the All Australian Peace Conference of Women in Sydney 1938.

A bright personality, Nell inspired others with her many anecdotes told always with great humour. As part of the "Boycott Japanese Goods" campaign she stood at Penneys counter urging people not to buy tea sets selling for 2/6 (25c).

She was a member of the Racial Hygiene Association formed to train women in contraception methods and of the Red Cross Blood Transfusion Committee.

In pre-war years Nell worked as Secretary of the Friends of the Soviet Union, and was one of the comrades who formed the original Ashgrove (now North-West) Branch of the Communist Party in 1941. Nell's work as a finance-raiser for the party was always outstanding.

In 1941 she toured North Queensland as advance publicity agent for George Taylor MLA who toured to raise money for medical aid and sheepskins for Russia. In Roma she was arrested for supposedly collecting money illegally. Trade union protests got her off the charge.

As the first woman elected to the Management Committee of the Liquor Trades Union, Nell worked for equal pay etc. "I must have worked in every pub in Brisbane".

She worked for civil defence through the ARP and was proud of a certificate of appreciation given by a grateful state government.

Tribune extends sympathy to Nell's family and to those comrades who miss her greatly.

*North-West Branch CPA Brisbane, Qld

Original publication

Additional Resources

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'McLeod, Ellen Margaret (Nell) (1894–1985)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Donovan, Ellen Margaret

Dartford, Kent, England


20 January, 1985 (aged ~ 91)
Chermside, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

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.

Key Events
Key Organisations
Political Activism