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

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Margaret (Margy) Windeyer (1866–1939)

by J. L. Ranken

Margaret Windeyer, by Mary Sewall, 1894

Margaret Windeyer, by Mary Sewall, 1894

Miss Margaret Windeyer, who died on August 11 after a short illness, was for many years an outstanding personality in the life of Sydney. She was an ardent feminist in the days when feminism denoted daring, and was among the organisers of many of the women's movements which sprang to life in the last decade of the nineteenth century.

Miss Windeyer went to the United States in the nineties to study at a Librarian School, and on her return she was appointed one of the first women members of the Public Library staff. When the Mitchell Library opened she was transferred there, and she became the friend and willing helper of all those who sought information on Australian history.

She had a keen sense of humour, and her fund of racy anecdotes of the past was a delight to those who visited the library.

Despite her busy library life, she took an active part in many public movements. She convened the first meeting of the National Council of Women, and always maintained her interest in that body. She was on the Council of the Women's College for many years. She was also connected with the Kindergarten Union, and she gave the Salvation Army her sympathy and practical help.

Among her many activities, one of particular interest today is that over 30 years ago she started children's libraries. These libraries she maintained on her own account, and though they did not long continue they were actually the first attempt at the now rapidly growing movement.

In reminiscent mood Miss Windeyer could tell many delightful stories of her early life, and some of them have become almost a tradition in the Mitchell Library, and are re-told by the present librarians to appreciative listeners to-day. 

Original publication

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Citation details

J. L. Ranken, 'Windeyer, Margaret (Margy) (1866–1939)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Margaret Windeyer, by Mary Sewall, 1894

Margaret Windeyer, by Mary Sewall, 1894

Life Summary [details]


24 November, 1866
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


11 August, 1939 (aged 72)
Darlinghurst, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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