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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Bardsley, Doris (1895–1968)

by Helen Gregory

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

Doris Bardsley (1895-1968), nurse, was born on 9 April 1895 at Gorton, Lancashire, England, daughter of Joseph William Bardsley, tea merchant, and his wife Arabella, née Whincup. Doris was educated at Lister Drive School, Liverpool. Shortly before World War I the family came to Brisbane and settled at Coorparoo. Trained at the Diamantina Hospital for Chronic Diseases, South Brisbane, Doris registered as a general nurse on 10 February 1920, gained her midwifery certificate at (Royal) Women's Hospital, Melbourne, and was matron (1922-23) at St Denis's Hospital, Toowoomba, Queensland. In October 1923 she joined the staff of the Maternal and Child Welfare service and subsequently completed the course in child welfare established at Diamantina Hospital by Ellen Barron.

After a year in charge of the Maternal and Child Welfare Training Centre, Fortitude Valley, on 9 April 1925 Bardsley was appointed sister-in-charge of Queensland Government Baby Clinics. Under the directorship of Dr A. J. Turner, the network of clinics expanded greatly during Bardsley's twelve-year term. During the 1920s she was a delegate to the National Council of Women of Queensland which supported the expansion of child-welfare services and mothercraft education; she was also a member of the technical sub-committee of the Mothercraft Association. In October 1937 Bardsley became acting-superintendent of infant-welfare nurses and, on Barron's retirement, was appointed superintendent in August 1939. Alert, attractive, informed and formidable, Bardsley helped with the development of residential homes for mothers and babies with feeding problems, introduced a correspondence service which offered ante-natal advice, and initiated mothercraft courses in secondary schools. In 1942 she secured the agreement of the registrar-general to notify the baby-clinic service of all births in country areas.

A councillor (1926-57) of the Queensland branch of the Australasian Trained Nurses' Association (later the Royal Australian Nursing Federation), Bardsley was State president in 1949-53 and national president in 1951-56. Besides making several study tours, she represented Australian nurses at overseas conferences, among them the congress of the International Council of Nurses in London (1937), Brazil (1953) and Turkey (1955). She served on the board of directors of the I.C.N. from 1951, on the grand council and on the education committee. Bardsley pursued her interest in the teaching of nurses through her membership of the Queensland Nurses' and Masseurs' Registration Board (1933-55), and the National Health and Medical Research Council's committee on nursing. Committed to the development of postgraduate education, she was a foundation member (1948), vice-president and president (1952-53) of the College of Nursing, Australia, and was elected a fellow in 1962.

From 1953 to 1961 Bardsley had been adviser-in-nursing to Queensland's Department of Health and Home Affairs. In addition, she served at State and national levels on the Florence Nightingale Memorial Committee of Australia which selected nurses to travel abroad and qualify as tutor-sisters. Miss Bardsley retired to Sydney in 1961. She died on 21 January 1968 at Mosman and was cremated with Anglican rites.

Select Bibliography

  • A Biographical Record of Queensland Women (Brisb, 1939)
  • R. Patrick, A History of Health and Medicine in Queensland 1824-1960 (Brisb, 1987)
  • Parliamentary Papers (Queensland), 1927, 1, pp 1179, 1181
  • Queensland Health, 1, no 4, June 1963, pp 21, 26
  • Australian Nurses Journal, 66, no 2, Feb 1968, p 34
  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 27 Jan 1968.

Citation details

Helen Gregory, 'Bardsley, Doris (1895–1968)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 29 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

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