Dr Dorothy Page
Membership: early 1980s until the Dunedin branch closed in September 2010. (A group of us still meet several times a year to catch up over lunch).
Committee, 1986 – especially reporting on women’s issues
Life Membership 2002
BPW New Zealand Federation
National Secretary 1987-1989: – culminating in our Golden Jubilee conference in Wellington, where we hosted International President Tuulikki Juusela.
Attended four national conferences as National Secretary or Dunedin President
Professional Experience and Research
I am a Southern person, born and brought up in Invercargill and educated there and at the University of Otago. I completed MA Hons degrees in both History
and French and much later, after marriage, three children and various part-time academic positions, a Ph D in History. From 1970 to 2000 I lectured at Otago, with the greatest enjoyment, on Medieval European, Modern French and Women’s history, the last of these a new field I helped develop. When I retired I was an Associate Professor and had just completed five years as Head of History.
Much of my research has focused on women’s history and biography. I have written essays on women for all five volumes of the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (which appeared between 1990 to 2000) and have published on New Zealand women’s nationality, women’s service organisations, the 19th century women graduates of Otago University and the first fifty women who graduated from its Medical School. I was honoured to be asked to write the centennial history of the National Council of Women of New Zealand (Bridget Williams Books, 1996). In 2002, together with Barbara Brookes I edited Communities of Women; Historical Perspectives, based on papers given at a women’s history conference at my retirement. More recently, and reflecting my life-long interest in the history of the University of Otago, I wrote Anatomy of a Medical School: a History of Medicine at the University of Otago, 1875-2000, (Otago University Press, 2008) I am currently writing a history of the business arm of the Presbyterian Church of Otago and Southland.
Women’s Organisations and Community Involvement
Like my research, my involvement with voluntary organisations reflects my concern for the position of women in society. Women’s organisations have a special place among my priorities. Two have had my long-term commitment, Business and Professional Women New Zealand and the New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women (now Graduate Women New Zealand). For many years I have represented one or other of these on the Otago Branch of the National Council of Women – BPW in the 1980s and early ‘90s and FGW from 1996 to 2015. The primary focus of BPW (women’s employment) and FUW (women’s education) may differ but their broader aims and vision mesh very well. I served as President of the Otago Branch of FGW in 1992-3 and since the closure of the Dunedin BPW I have concentrated on the Federation. I was National President from 2009 to 2012, a period which included also the presidency of the Pacific Graduate Women’s network from 2010 to 2012.
I enjoy serving my local community in various ways. I was President of the Otago Settlers’ Association, the Friends’ organisation for Toitu Otago Settlers’ Museum. from 2008 to 2010 – the first woman president since its foundation in 1898. For some years I led popular Women’s History walks for the Museum in central Dunedin. I still sit on the Toitu Board. I was a founding member of the Otago University Staff Women’s Caucus and served from 1997 to 2015 on the Council of St Margaret’s (residential) College. I am a Fellow of St Margaret’s, as well as of the Hocken Library and until recently of Knox College.
My involvement with women’s history and women’s organisations was recognised by the award of a suffrage medal in 1993 and an MBE in 1996.