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Lucy Meredith Bryce (1897–1968)

by M. L. Verso

This article was published:

Lucy Meredith Bryce (1897-1968), by Julian Smith

Lucy Meredith Bryce (1897-1968), by Julian Smith

University of Melbourne Archives, UMA/I/1712

Lucy Meredith Bryce (1897-1968), haematologist, was born on 12 June 1897 at Lindfield, New South Wales, eldest child of Robert Bryce, commercial traveller, and his wife Margaret Annie Lucy, née Doak, of Sydney. When Lucy was 11 the family moved to Melbourne, where her father later founded the firm of R. Bryce & Sons, merchants and importers. Lucy was educated at Melbourne Church of England Girls' Grammar School and the University of Melbourne (B.Sc., 1918; M.B., B.S., 1922).

In 1922-28 Dr Bryce held research posts at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, spending 1925-26 in London at the Lister Institute. In 1928 she became bacteriologist and clinical pathologist at the (Royal) Melbourne Hospital, resigning in 1934 to enter private practice as a clinical pathologist. She continued part-time research at the Hall Institute (1934-46) and at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (1939-44), and was honorary director of pathology at the Queen Victoria Hospital; in World War II she was visiting specialist with the rank of major at the 115th Australian General Hospital, Heidelberg.

The work for which she is best remembered began in 1929. At the initiative of Dr Eric Cooper, the Victorian division of the Australian Red Cross Society agreed to organize a panel of blood donors who were prepared to attend hospitals when required. A Blood Transfusion Service was set up with Dr Bryce as honorary director; she undertook the blood grouping as well as other aspects of laboratory testing and medical care of the donors. Blood storage techniques developed during the Spanish Civil War were adopted under her supervision. In the subsequent complex developments in blood research and transfusion services during and after World War II, her leadership was invaluable.

In 1954 Dr Bryce retired as honorary director of the service but, despite failing health following a stroke, continued as chairman of the transfusion committee until 1966. She had been appointed C.B.E. in 1951. She died on 30 July 1968 and was cremated. Her estate was valued for probate at $385,932.

Lucy Bryce was author or co-author of forty-three scientific articles and of a history of the transfusion service up to 1959, An Abiding Gladness (1965). At the time of her death she was working on a book about her travels in south-east Europe in the 1920s. Her scientific work, her writing and her approach to administrative problems revealed a mind that was meticulous to a fault, while the soft voice and manner of a cultured gentlewoman concealed a surprising firmness of purpose. She made large demands on those who worked for her but had the capacity to inspire great loyalty from them.

Her portrait by William Dargie hangs in the Lucy Bryce Hall at the Central Blood Bank, Melbourne. A duplicate is held by her family.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Red Cross Society, Annual Report, 1968-69
  • Australian Red Cross (Victorian Branch), Minutes of special executive and sub-committee meetings, 16 Oct 1929, and of Blood Transfusion Service Committee meetings 19 Dec 1953, 18 Sept 1968
  • private information.

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Citation details

M. L. Verso, 'Bryce, Lucy Meredith (1897–1968)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 24 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (Melbourne University Press), 1979

View the front pages for Volume 7

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