- Honour Roll
During much of her life, May worked with various education, child welfare and women's organisations. May was appointed vice president of the Australian Women's National League in 1906, two years before the legislation to permit Victorian women to vote in state elections was passed. She stayed in this role for eight years.
Later, May set off to Europe where she was the Australian delegate for various conferences and committees. This included the League of Nations Assembly in Geneva, where she was the first female member of the finance committee.
Back home, she became President of the National Council of Women of Victoria, and in 1931 became the first president of the National Council of Women of Australia. Two years later she became the only female member of the Victorian Centenary Celebrations executive committee.
At the same time, May chaired the Women's Centenary Council, which established the Pioneer Women's Memorial Garden in Melbourne's Domain Gardens – perhaps her greatest legacy. Opened in 1935, the garden remains a place of recognition for significant women in Victoria's history.
While May was Chair the Council also produced a Book of Remembrance containing records of around 1,200 early women settlers. A copy of the limited edition publication is now held in the State Library of Victoria.
In 1934 she was appointed Commander of the British Empire and on her retirement she was awarded a gold badge by the National Council of Women of Victoria for distinguished service.
May is remembered for her significant contribution to the community, and for the dignity, charm and grace with which she went about her work.
Reviewed 25 May 2022