The Queensland Women’s Historical Association is an organisation with a passion for preserving Queensland’s colonial and post-Federation heritage particularly as it relates to women. The Association owns Miegunyah House Museum, and is one of only a handful of history associations in Queensland with its own heritage-listed premises and significant collection of artefacts.
Membership is open to both women and men, and new members are always welcome.
The Association strives to preserve the House and Collection as well as offering regular lectures by local historians on topics as broad as fashion, photography, art and World War II.
History of QWHA
The Queensland Women’s Historical Association (QWHA) has had a very active life right from its formation in April 1950 at Newstead House, headquarters of the then Historical Society of Queensland.
Originally known as the Women’s Historical Association, its aim was to stimulate interest in the history and heritage of Queensland and, in particular, the history of pioneer families and the contribution made by women to the development of Queensland. It was to remain at all times an educational and cultural body.
Membership grew rapidly and by September 1950 the Association held its first exhibition ‘Before 1900’ at Newstead House. During the Commonwealth Jubilee Celebrations it combined with the Historical Society of Queensland for a ‘Jubilee Junket’. Lady Lavarack (wife of the governor) agreed to become patron of the Association.
Although still allocated space at Newstead House, the flourishing Women’s Historical Association soon became independent. The Association undertook to collect documentary material, together with personal and household items, that demonstrated Queensland women’s constantly changing lifestyle. This policy has resulted in a significant collection of Queensland’s colonial social history.
In 1954 Martha Young became president. She was a person with phenomenal physical and mental energy, a forthright approach to problem solving and organisational ability. Membership soared, and the collection expanded enormously. In 1957 the Association changed its name to the Queensland Women’s Historical Association. Mrs Young initiated a scheme to identify and mark buildings, properties and sites of outstanding significance to Queensland. Between 1960 and 1983 the Association recognised and marked with either distinctive blue enamel or bronze plaques eighty-seven historic sites in Queensland, Britain and France.
Martha Young, president from 1954–1967
With its expanding membership and collection, the Association decided it needed a home of its own. Fortuitously, the 1886 iron lace clad colonial house, Beverley Wood, in nearby Bowen Hills, came on the market, but it meant raising a deposit of $13,000 within thirteen weeks to secure the property. The Association led an appeal throughout the State to save this colonial gem from demolition.
The purchase of the house was a triumph for Mrs Young and for all her stalwart members. Unfortunately, Mrs Young died suddenly on 18 March 1967 and, while her dream was not quite complete, members then and since have seen its fulfilment.
The photo that accompanied the article requesting funds to buy Beverley Wood
Miegunyah first opened as a house museum in June 1968 and has been open to the public continuously (apart from COVID-19 enforced shutdowns) ever since.
QWHA folk museum at Miegunyah, circa 1979. Copyright Brisbane Images, Brisbane City Council