Buttfield, Nancy Eileen (1912-2005)

Field of activity
Politician
NLA Persistent Identifier
http://nla.gov.au/nla.party-611323

Biographies

In 1955, Nancy Buttfield became the first South Australian woman member of an Australian Parliament. She was appointed the Order of the British Empire (Dames Commander) on 1 January 1972 for political and public services.

Born into one of South Australia's leading families, Nancy was the second daughter of Edward (later Sir) and Hilda May Holden. Her father is recognised as the primary founder of the Australian car industry. Nancy Holden was educated at Woodlands Church of England Girls' Grammar School, Adelaide, and Camposenea in Paris. She later studied part-time at Adelaide University, as well as working with many charities. On 19th February 1936, Holden married businessman and company director Frank Charles Buttfield and they had two sons.

Her interest in politics was aroused when she joined a Model Parliament that met in the Christadelphian Hall near Holden's city factory. Robert Menzies (later prime minister of Australia) gave her advice about a possible parliamentary career. In 1954 Nancy stood for and won Liberal Party endorsement to challenge for the safe Labor federal seat of Adelaide. Although defeated, she did achieve a 3% swing against Labor.

In 1955 a senate vacancy was created when South Australian Senator George McLeay died suddenly. Buttfield was nominated by State Parliament and became South Australia's first female Member of Parliament, serving as a Senator for 16½ years. As well as serving as a director for the Co-operative Building Society for 30 years, Nancy Buttfield was a Member of the Commonwealth Advisory Council for the Handicapped. She also was vice-president of the Good Neighbour Council, on the Women's Committee of the Queen Victoria Maternity Hospital and co-manager of the Mile End Maternity Hospital.

In their retirement, the Buttfield's set-up a Youth Venture Club, established at their property 'Fairfield' at Chain of Ponds in South Australia, where leadership skills are developed through outdoor activities such as bush walking, horse riding, archery and canoeing. Together they established the Dame Nancy Buttfield biennial prize for decorative arts. The $5000 prize and several scholarships are open to all Australians and all age groups.

Dame Nancy Buttfield died on 4 September 2005.

View the full record at Australian Women's Register

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Resources for Nancy Eileen Buttfield

Selected resources (8)

Australian Women's Register

  1. So great a change : the story of the Holden family
    Buttfield, Nancy
    [1979]
    Published: Ure Smith
  2. Dame Nancy : the autobiography of Dame Nancy Buttfield / assisted by June Donovan
    Buttfield, Nancy, Dame, 1912-2005
    [1992]
    Published: N. Buttfield
  3. Faith, Hope and Charity Australian Women and Imperial Honours: 1901-1989
    Australian Women's Archives Project
    [2003]
    Published: Australian Women's Archives Project
    Series: http://www.womenaustralia.info/exhib/honours/honours.html
  4. Liberal women : Federation to 1949
    Fitzherbert, Margaret
    [2004]
    Published: Federation Press
  5. Who's who in Australia 2002
    Herd, Margaret
    [2002]
    Published: Crown Content
  6. State Library of South Australia: Dame Nancy Buttfield: Summary record (1840 - 1990)
    20cm; Papers of Dame Nancy Buttfield, politician, comprising diaries kept by her as Nancy Holden, photographs including family photographs and photographs relating to her career and to 'Fairfield' youth camp, curriculum vitae, itinerary for Papua New Guinea trip and papers relating to the Dame Nancy Buttfield Embroidery Prize
    PRG 1161
  7. State Library of South Australia: Liberal Party, S. A. Division : SUMMARY RECORD (1900 - 1997)
    Liberal Party records including the former Australian National League, Liberal Union, Liberal Federation and Liberal and Country League, comprising minutes, subject files, electoral papers, membership lists, reports, press cuttings, posters, publications, films, videos, sound recordings and photographs together with records of the Liberal Club Ltd and of the Young Liberal Movement. Also includes minutes and financial records of the Eyre State Electoral Committee. A selection of 57 photographs from series 1/58 has been digitised and is available to see on the South Australiana Database; do a NUMBER search on SRG 168/1/58/2-100
    SRG 168 PART OUTSIZE 1,6
  8. National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection: Papers of the Holden family (1852 - 1979)
    The collection consists of 2 diaries, 1801 and 1856, (folder 1), correspondence, photographs (folder 3), legal documents, photocopies, publications and press clippings; a copy of the paperback "So great a change: the story of the Holden family in Australia" by Nancy Buttfield (Sydney, Une Smith, 1979); 1 folio containing photographs, legal documents, genealogical table of the Holden family, photocopies of lectures of W.E. Holden, illuminated testimonials.
    MS 6247

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  1. Buttfield — Holden Wedding At St. John's Church Masses Of Flowers
    The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954) Thursday 20 February 1936 p 12 Article Illustrated
    ... Buttfield — Holden Wedding At St. John's Church Masses Of Flowers ST. John's Church, Halifax street ... Margaret Holden, - Margaret Raws, Alice Buttfield. Phyl- lis Rem, and. Josephine Simpson. Huge \ bowls or ... 2014 words
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  2. ENGAGEMENT
    The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 - 1954) Saturday 4 August 1934 p 7 Article
    ... Kalymna, Dequetteville terrace. Kent Town, to Frank, second son of Mr. and Mrs. E. F. Buttfield, of St ... ENGAGEMENT The engagement is announced of Nancy, younger daughter of Mr. and Mrs. E. W. Holden, of ... 37 words
    This resource may have relevance to your query (score: 0.131)

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  3. Family Notices
    Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954) Thursday 31 March 1938 p 27 Family Notices
    ... . BUTTFIELD. — On the 27th of March, to the wife of F. C. Buttfield — a son. BROWN (nee Mary Higgins). — On ... 11493 words
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  1. Records of the Liaison Committee of Women's International Organisations, Australia Group
    Liaison Committee of Women's International Organisations. Australia Group
    [ Unpublished : 1947-1963 ]
    At National Library
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  1. Website: Australian Women in War
    www.womenaustralia.info
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