DALRYMPLE, Louisa White
Educationalist and social worker.
A new biography of Dalrymple, Learmonth White appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Louisa White Dalrymple was born in 1827 at Cupar, Angus, Scotland, the daughter of Janet (née Taylor), and William Dalrymple, a merchant. She emigrated to Otago in 1853, where she later took up work for her lifetime interest, the education of girls. In correspondence with English educationalists, including the Misses Buss and Beale, Louisa Dalrymple discussed methods of education, her own opinions generally being in advance of those of the English reformers. When a boys' secondary school for Otago was being discussed in 1864, Louisa Dalrymple began to campaign for a girls' school, and circulated a petition for this purpose. With the help of Sir John Richardson, in 1871 the Otago Girls' High School was founded. The curriculum and organisation were based largely on her own ideas, and the pattern was followed as girls' schools were opened in other provinces.
When a university was being planned for New Zealand, Louisa Dalrymple was quickly aware of the opportunity to gain admission for women. She again originated a petition, with the result that, when the University of New Zealand Charter was signed, no clause explicitly excluded women from taking degrees, and the first women who applied were received into classes with no difficulty. Her interest extended to primary and pre-school education, and on these questions she prepared papers for interested bodies. But her activities extended to many types of social reform. A member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union from its formation in 1885, she worked in Dunedin, Wellington, and Feilding for the temperance cause. She campaigned actively for the women's suffrage movement, serving on the committee of the Dunedin Franchise League, and in 1893 founded the Feilding Franchise League. She died at Ashburn Hall, Dunedin, on 26 August 1906.
As a pioneer of education in New Zealand, Louisa Dalrymple was largely responsible for the foundation of girls' schools on sound and relatively advanced lines. Just as significant was her action on behalf of her sex for the right to higher education, and had it not been for the pressure she brought to bear on the early university deliberations, the entry of women into the university, which proved so valuable both for the secondary education of girls and for the feminist movement, could well have been delayed a few decades with less happy consequences.
by Patricia Ann Grimshaw, M.A., Auckland.
- Otago Daily Times, 1 Sep 1906 (Obit).