Labour Australia

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

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.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Ellen Mary Flanagan (1859–1936)

This article was published:

This entry is from People Australia

Ellen Mary Flanagan, née Jones (1859-1936) feminist, Labor activist and trade union leader

Birth: 24 January 1859 in Shannon View (Broulee), New South Wales, daughter of Margaret Gordon. Informally adopted by her mother’s employer Robert Jones (d.1863), storekeeper, and his wife Ellen Mary, née Harper (1822-1908). Marriage: (1) 2 December 1876 to John Joseph North (1850 -1917). They had three daughters before they were divorced. (2) 20 January 1894 in Sydney, to William Manton Flanagan, railway employee. They, too, divorced. Death: 23 August 1936 in North Curl Curl, North Sydney. Religion: Catholic. 

  • According to one source, was educated at St Marys Cathedral School. Became a teacher, 'very radical in her views...determined to get reform for women'.
  • However, she was a waitress living in Albion Street, Sydney, in 1894.
  • Organiser for Australian Labor Party with Kate Dwyer 1900s. Press secretary of Labor Central Women’s Organising Committee 1911.
  • Founding secretary of Women Workers' Union 1910 to organise home workers. Prominent in anti-sweating campaign. With Dwyer first woman represented on Trade Union Congress (?). Active feminist, leaving first husband and family to devote her life to equal rights cause. Prominent Domain speaker and promoter of feminist cause in labour movement.
  • From 1914 to 1924 assistant manageress of NSW Women's Employment Agency.

Suzy Baldwin (ed), Unsung Heroes & Heroines of Australia (Elwood, Victoria, 1988), pp. 85-86 [has some incorrect information]; Edna Ryan and Ann Conlon, Gentle Invaders:Australian Women at Work (Ringwood, Vic, 1975).

Additional Resources

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Flanagan, Ellen Mary (1859–1936)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 14 June 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Jones, Ellen Mary
  • North, Ellen Mary

24 January, 1859
Broulee, New South Wales, Australia


23 August, 1936 (aged 77)
North Curl Curl, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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 Organisations
Political Activism