This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Choose to Challenge’. The theme aims to encourage everyone to make a conscious choice to speak up and challenge examples of gender bias and inequality that they witness. It is also a choice to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Today to celebrate International Women’s Day 2021, we will highlight two key women, Nancy Beattie and Joan Hatton, who have helped collect and preserve the unique history of the St George region in very different ways.
Nancy Beattie was a local St George woman who had a strong passion for Australian flora. Nancy collected, pressed, and identified numerous plant specimens from the area between 1964 and 1990, with most specimens having been collected from 1966 to 1973. The Museum & Gallery is fortunate to care for these clippings which comprise the Nancy Beattie Collection. This collection contains eight binders filed with nearly 290 plant species collected in the St George and Sutherland areas. It is thought that these folders would have been for Nancy’s own personal use and would have assisted her in her role as a volunteer for the Oatley Fauna and Flora Conservation Society.
Nancy shared her passion with her local community, having joined the Oatley Fauna and Flora Conservation Society in 1977. She was a dedicated member who regularly hosted supervised floral studies and plant identification walks through Oatley Park for 15 years until November 1992. These folders were then donated by Nancy Beattie, brought to the Museum & Gallery by Alan Fairley of Oatley Flora and Fauna Conservation Society. They were accessioned into our collection on 12 October 1994.
Her meticulous record keeping and dating of the specimens in the collection, gives an accurate timeline of her having lived in the Georges River area for the majority, if not all, of her adult life. These plant specimens can be beneficial for many reasons, assisting with identifying plant specimens accurately and confidently, and providing a permanent record of the locations of plants which may no longer be present.
To view more of the Nancy Beattie Collection visit eHive.
Born in Brisbane, Dulcie Joan Hatton moved to Kogarah in 1946 at the age of 20 with her mother, Doris, and went on to reside in the area for the rest of her life. Joan had an incredible passion for knowledge and has accurately been described as a ‘life-long scholar’. She studied for a science degree while working as an accountant for the Australian Taxation Office; after completing this degree, she went on to become Head of Serology at the Australian Blood Bank, as well as complete a medical degree and become Staff Pathologist at Sutherland hospital.
As a member of both Hurstville and Kogarah Historical Societies, Joan was motivated to preserve the history of the area as thoroughly as she could. She collected oral histories from some of the area’s oldest residents, as well as photographs, documents, maps, manuscripts, and family histories.
At the time of her death she was working on a master’s degree in history at the University of Western Sydney, writing a thesis on the health and welfare of women and children in the St George area. In her will, she bequeathed $20,000 to Kogarah Council to establish the Local Studies department. Her historical work, which included her personal collection of 3,500 photographs, was stored in her garage and donated to become a part of the collection of what is now the Georges River Local Studies collection. The Hatton Room at the Clive James Library in Kogarah was named in her honour.
Many of Joan’s photographs have been digitised and can be accessed through the Georges River Libraries online catalogue.
Read more about Joan Hatton who was featured in a past Snapshot exhibition The everyday observer: Joan Hatton.
Nancy Beattie Collection summary, Hurstville Museum & Gallery.
‘Collecting and preserving plant specimens, a manual’, Queensland Herbarium, https://www.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0032/67469/collecting-manual.pdf