Australian Dictionary of Biography

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

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.

Alice Frances Moss (1869–1948)

by Ada M. Norris

This article was published:

Alice Frances Mabel Moss (1869-1948), campaigner for women's rights, was born on 27 April 1869 at Ballarat, Victoria, daughter of English-born John Alfred Wilson, sharebroker and later licensed victualler, and his Scottish wife Martha Brown, née Lamb. She was educated at Presbyterian Ladies' College, East Melbourne, and on 10 March 1887 married in Melbourne in a civil ceremony, Isidore Henry Moss, grazier (d.1938), son of Mark Moss, financier. They lived in New South Wales for some thirteen years.

While her two daughters were young, Mrs Moss began working for the rights of women. As vice-president of the Australian Women's National League in 1906-14 she campaigned in Victoria for female suffrage. An early member of the National Council of Women of Victoria, formed in 1904, she was appointed in 1927 an alternate Australian delegate to the League of Nations Assembly at Geneva, where she was the first woman member of the finance committee and served on other committees. She was also Australian delegate to the first World Population Conference at Geneva and the first Women's Peace Study Conference at Amsterdam, Holland. After attending an executive meeting in Paris of the League of Nations Union, she returned to become vice-president of its Victorian branch in 1928.

While in Europe Mrs Moss was Australian representative at the executive meeting at Geneva in 1927 of the International Council of Women. Next year she was elected a vice-president, a position she held until her death. In 1930, as an Australian delegate, she attended the I.C.W. Meeting in Vienna and the Codification of International Law Conference in The Hague, on the nationality of married women, then of particular concern to women's national organizations.

Mrs Moss served as first president of the National Council of Women of Australia in 1931-36. After repeated requests from its Victorian council, of which she was president in 1928-38, for the inclusion of women, she was appointed to the executive of the Victorian and Melbourne Centenary Celebrations Council (1933-34). At the same time she chaired the Women's Centenary Council, which established the Pioneer Women's Memorial Garden and prepared a Book of Remembrance containing records of some 1200 early women settlers. In 1934 she was appointed C.B.E. and awarded the gold badge of the N.C.W. for distinguished service.

Actively interested in other community organizations such as the (Royal) Women's Hospital, the Collingwood Crèche and the Free Kindergarten movement, Mrs Moss also served on the board of management of the City Newsboys' Society in 1906-48 and was the first woman lay-member of the National Health and Medical Research Council in 1936-45. She was recognized for her outstanding ability and her distinguished contribution to the community, as for her dignity, charm and grace. She was always quick to praise the work of other people: 'I like to give a rose to someone who can smell it'. A member of the International and Lyceum clubs, she was interested in the theatre, painting and woodcarving. She died in East Melbourne on 18 July 1948 and was cremated with Presbyterian forms.

Select Bibliography

  • H. Gillan, A Brief History of the National Council of Women of Victoria 1902-1945 (Melb, 1945)
  • M. O. Reid, The Ladies Came to Stay (Melb, 1960)
  • A. M. Norris, Champions of the Impossible (Melb, 1978)
  • Herald (Melbourne), 4 June 1934, 19 July 1948
  • National Council of Women (Victoria), records (Melbourne)
  • private information.

Additional Resources

Citation details

Ada M. Norris, 'Moss, Alice Frances (1869–1948)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 26 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (Melbourne University Press), 1986

View the front pages for Volume 10

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Wilson, Alice Frances

27 April, 1869
Ballarat, Victoria, Australia


18 July, 1948 (aged 79)
East Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, 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.

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.