The formation of our Old Girls' Union
The 1908 program for the inaugural meeting of the Abbotsleigh Old Girls' Union.
By Julie Daly, Abbotsleigh Archivist
Founded on 23 May 1908, the Abbotsleigh Old Girls Union is amongst the earliest school alumni unions to be formed in Australia.
Marian Clarke, Abbotsleigh’s founding Headmistress, not only oversaw the founding of a great school, but she was also the first President of the Abbotsleigh Old Girls’ Union (AOGU).
Early in 1908, a meeting was held at the Royal Empire Society’s rooms to discuss the formation of an association of ex-pupils, which was encouraged and convened by Marian Clarke. The aims of the AOGU were to carry on the traditions of the School, to unite as far as possible the Old Girls with each other and to co-operate in work for others.
On 23 May 1908, the inaugural meeting of the AOGU was held at Abbotsleigh. Mrs Hodges, an old friend of Miss Clarke’s, read the keynote address: 'How, then, can we best help forward the life of the school which we love? An Old Girls’ Union would link you in a new and definite way with the old life; it would keep you in touch with it as nothing else would. You would still feel knit close to your school, and you would be able to follow its story, sympathise with its sorrows, rejoice in its triumphs.'
According to the first rules of the Union, the Headmistress was to be President. Marian Clarke held this post until her resignation in 1913, after which our second Headmistress, Margaret Murray, took over until her own resignation in 1924. From this time on, which coincided with Abbotsleigh becoming a Church school, an Old Girl was to be the president of the Union, with the Headmistress serving as patron.
First annual report of the Abbotsleigh Old Girls' Union, 1909.