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Elizabeth Meikle Cunningham (1894–1970)

This article was published:

This entry is from People Australia

Elizabeth Cunningham, n.d.

Elizabeth Cunningham, n.d.

Elizabeth Meikle Cunningham, née Murray (1894-1970) community worker 

Birth: 1894 at Hamilton, Lanarkshire, Scotland, daughter of Francis John Murray (1859-?), coal miner, and Elizabeth, née Meikle (1864-1938). Marriage: 28 March 1913 at Hamilton, Scotland, to William Cunningham (1892-1959), coal miner. They had three daughters and one son. Death: 30 October 1970 at Collie, Western Australia. 

  • Educated at Glenlee, Scotland. Emigrated in wake of British 1926 general strike which caused great community distress in Lanarkshire, Scotland.  Three children died in Scotland.
  • Arrived at Collie, WA, with her husband and surviving daughter in 1928. Prominent in establishing soup kitchens, sewing circles and unemployment relief in Collie during Great Depression.
  • Active in the Australian Labor Party, Collie; vice president of the social committee. In 1936 she was treasurer of Collie Women’s branch of ALP, representing the branch at women's annual ALP conference; delegate to south-west District Council ALP and Labor Women’s Central Executive.
  • A 'diminutive Scottish woman with a friendly smile (and) a fine wit', energetic in community affairs. During World War II she was vice president Red Cross, Collie, treasurer of the Farewell and Welcome Home Committee, president and organiser of Collie Army Canteen.
  • Foundation member Combined Mining Unions Scholarship Committee and vice president Scottish Union of Western Australia. In 1952 helped establish infants’ health centre in Collie, Spastic Welfare Committee, president Collie Hospital Comforts Fund Committee. Later president Collie Pensioners League and Slow Learners' Group.
  • Regarded her most rewarding achievement as the completion of Glenlee Occupational Centre for Slow Learners. In 1966 was awarded BEM for social and community work.

Battye Library Biographical Index; photo and profile, Westralian Worker, 16 April 1943, p 3:

Citation details

'Cunningham, Elizabeth Meikle (1894–1970)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 June 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Elizabeth Cunningham, n.d.

Elizabeth Cunningham, n.d.

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Murray, Elizabeth Meikle

Hamilton, Lanarkshire, Scotland


30 October, 1970 (aged ~ 76)
Collie, Western Australia, 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.

Key Organisations
Political Activism