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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Great Suffragette demonstration in London, 1911

Rose Stereograph Company

stereo view gelatin silver photograph on paper (backing sheet: 9.5 cm x 17.7 cm, image: 8.5 cm x 15.0 cm)

Vida Goldstein (1869–1949), feminist and activist, was the first woman in the British Empire to stand for election to a national parliament. Of Polish, Irish and Scottish heritage, she was the eldest child of socially progressive parents who fostered her interest in issues of education and welfare. After attending Presbyterian Ladies College, Melbourne, she opened a school with her sisters and during the same period became active in the fight for women’s suffrage. She was appointed general secretary of the United Council for Women’s Suffrage in 1900 and established the paper The Woman’s Sphere. An able, quick-witted public speaker, in America in 1902 she gave evidence to a Congressional committee on women’s suffrage and attended the International Council of Women Conference before returning home to run for a Senate seat in the 1903 Federal election. She was unsuccessful despite attracting over 50 000 votes. Undeterred, she set about to educate women on the matter of the vote, Victorian women still being unable to vote in state elections despite being granted the right to do so in Federal polls in 1902. Goldstein stood for parliament again, without success, in 1910, 1913, 1914 and 1917, campaigning on equal pay, equal property rights, industrial reform and many other issues. She launched her second paper, the weekly Woman Voter in 1909; and in 1911 the militant Women’s Social and Political Union invited her to London, where she was touted as ‘one of the foremost leaders of the Australian women’s movement … now helping her sisters in England to win their freedom’. A committed pacifist, during World War I she served as chairman of the Peace Alliance and formed the Women’s Peace Army with the English suffragette, Adela Pankhurst. After the war she took an increasing interest in international matters, advocating disarmament and the pursuit of better living standards. She died from cancer in 1949.

This photograph shows Vida Goldstein (right) with compatriots Margaret Fisher (centre) and Emily McGowen (second from right) – the wives of the Australian prime minister and NSW premier – who led the Australian marchers in the 1911 Suffragette Demonstration. Parades were typical subjects for the Melbourne-based Rose Stereograph Company. Stereographs are images taken with a twin-lens camera, that appear three dimensional when viewed through a special viewer.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2011

Accession number: 2011.73

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Rose Stereograph Company

Vida Goldstein (age 42 in 1911)

Subject professions

Activism

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Jessie Street, 1929 Jerrold Nathan
Jessie Street, 1929 Jerrold Nathan
Jessie Street, 1929 Jerrold Nathan
Jessie Street, 1929 Jerrold Nathan

First Ladies

Significant Australian Women 1913–2013

Previous exhibition, 2013

First Ladies profiles women who have achieved noteworthy firsts over the past 100 years.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.