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Emily Gibson scrapbook.

 Collection — Box: 2014/9
Identifier: MSS-Archives-2014/09

Scope and Contents

This scrapbook was created by Emily Gibson, a significant figure in the early days of New Zealand political activism and women's organisations. It consists of a variety of articles, poems, photographs, letters and notes all relating to social reform with a particular focus on women's suffrage and political organisations.

The majority of items in the scrapbook are copies of newspaper or journal articles relating to political organisations, groups, leaders and activists of social reform. At an international level these include groups such as the Tolpuddle Matyrs, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and people such as Davis Lloyd George, Christabel Pankhurst and H. G. Wells. New Zealand organisations include the New Zealand Labour Party, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (New Zealand section) and people such as Michael J. Savage and Gordon Watson.

Amongst the material collected from other sources is Emily's own work. This includes a number of published poems, articles written for publications such as the Maoriland Worker and theNew Zealand Worker and letters received and sent in her capacity as Secretary for the Women's Political League and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (New Zealand section).

On the spine it is labelled as a Minute Book and given the title "Whangamata G.M. Co.". The articles etc. in the scrapbook are pasted over some handwritten text which is set out in columns, recording names and places alongside a running number sequence.


  • 1936 - 1947


Conditions Governing Access

Not restricted.

Biographical / Historical

Emily Patricia Gibson (nee Ray) came to New Zealand from Ireland in 1891 and was a prominent figure in the Auckland suffrage movement and later women's organisations. She was born in Dublin, Ireland between 1863 and 1864, where she went on to train as a compositor and proof-reader. In 1891 she emigrated to New Zealand and settled in Auckland where she was to spend the rest of her life. On 7 August 1894 she married William Edward Gibson and before the arrival of the first of her three children she worked as a proof reader at the Auckland Star.

Gibson was an active social reform campaigner and having been involved in the women's suffrage movement in London she soon joined the Auckland branch of the Women's Franchise League. In 1893 Gibson was one of a group of women to vote for the first time at the Army Hall in Auckland. However, having considered herself a Liberal, Gibson found the league to be too conservative so she and some other women formed the Auckland Women's Liberal League. The group campaigned tirelessly to get a compulsory half-day holiday for shop assistants and domestic workers. In 1899 Gibson delivered a paper on the poor working conditions of domestic servants to the annual conference of the National Council of Women of New Zealand, held in Auckland.

During 1905 the Auckland Women's Political League went into recess which Gibson and her sister, Clementina Kirkby, worked to re-establish in 1907. Gibson served as secretary for two terms between the years 1907 and 1917 and during that time gave evidence to the Royal Commission on the Cost of Living in New Zealand in 1909. With the decline of the Liberal party Gibson became a member of the New Zealand Labour Party at its formation in 1916 and during the same year was a founding member of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), for which Gibson was corresponding secretary until 1930. During this time she also contributed to articles in the Maoriland Worker and theNew Zealand Worker, and published a number of poems. Her involvement with the WILPF continued until the league stopped functioning in 1946.

Gibson died in Auckland on 24 April 1947 and was survived by her two daughters and son. She was remembered fondly by colleagues and peers. In an excerpt from the minutes of the Auckland Branch of the National Council of Women on 26 May 1947 she was described as one of the few remaining political pioneers of New Zealand and as being instrumental in obtaining thousands of signatures to the Disarmament Petition presented to the League of Nations in 1932.


Holt, B. (1985). Women for peace and freedom : a history of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in New Zealand. Wellington N.Z. : The League 1985.

Hutching, M. (2012). 'Gibson, Emily Patricia', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 30-Oct-2012 URL:


0.01 metres

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

No accession prior to this, but acquired January 1987.

Related Materials

MSS & Archives 2009/6 - Auckland Women's Political League minutes and other records.

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections, University of Auckland Repository

5 Alfred Street
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142 New Zealand