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Amy Rowntree OBE

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Amy Rowntree OBE

Awarded for service to Education and Training, service to the Arts

Born: 13 July 1885

Died: 1962

Entered on roll: 2008


Amy Rowntree was born in Hobart, one of the nine children of Francis and Ann Maria Rowntree. Amy began her teaching career in 1902 at the age of 17.

She obtained her Bachelor of Arts with a First Class in Philosophy, and her Master of Arts in 1921 from the University of Tasmania. She also obtained her Certificate of Classification from Sydney, and passed her University Education 1 and 2 exams with high distinction.

Amy was working as Mistress of Method at the Elizabeth Street Practising School in Hobart when she was appointed the first female Inspector of Schools in 1919. She was the only woman to hold the Education Department’s highest professional certificate.

Amy retired from teaching in 1945, having been instrumental in revolutionising infant teaching in Tasmania. The infant education system she developed put Tasmania at the forefront of early childhood education in Australia. She received the Order of the British Empire for her outstanding achievements in education in 1949.

After retirement, Amy embarked on her second career, as a historical researcher and writer. Amy was meticulous in her research, often incorporating lively social history in her commentary. Her passion was for her immediate environment, Battery Point and Sandy Bay where she had grown up and continued to live.

Through the 1950s and early 1960s, until her death in 1962, Amy wrote at least eight books, covering the history and architecture of Hobart and Sandy Bay. She also produced a series of articles for the Saturday Evening Mercury on Tasmanian history. She was preparing a series of articles on the early history of Battery Point when she became seriously ill in 1961. Four were published before her death and the remainder were finished by her sister Fearn and friends of the family. Fearn also illustrated many of Amy’s books.

Amy's contribution to Tasmanian history was not limited to published works. Three of the Rowntree sisters, Amy, Fearn and Milli, were the principal instigators of the establishment of Narryna (Hampden Road, Battery Point) as a first class memorial folk museum which opened in 1957.

Photograph reproduced courtesy of the Archives Office of Tasmania.

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