IWD - Celebrating the Life of Mary De Garis   

St Mary’s Library and Research Centre, Geelong

Friday 6 March, 2pm-3pm.

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Please join us to view a short film, What Courage Such a Thing Takes: The Life of Mary De Garis and listen to historian, Dr Ruth Lee share Mary’s story.

Born in Charlton and raised in Mildura, Mary studied medicine when few women did before embarking on an extraordinary path as a “woman war doctor”. Hear of her courage, innovation and determination to save lives both on the battlefields of Europe, and on her return, establishing Geelong’s first public hospital maternity ward.

Mary’s story was not widely known until recently. As she was unable to enlist in the Australian armed forces as a doctor in 1914, her war service was not officially recognised. In 2019, Her Place Women’s Museum Australia, with Ruth Lee’s significant input, created What Courage Such a Thing Takes: The Life of Mary De Garis to change this.

Ruth Lee has taught Australian history and academic writing at Deakin University, Geelong for 25 years; her major research interest has been documenting women’s history. Researching the life of Dr Mary De Garis, she was awarded her PhD at Deakin University 2011 and went on to write the biography Woman War Doctor: The Life of Mary De Garis, Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2014, which was commended by the Royal Historical Society of Victoria’s Community History awards. She has also contributed to the University of Melbourne Medical History Museum and the online Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth Century Australia.


What Courage Such a Thing Takes: The Life of Mary De Garis was supported by the Victorian Government and the Victorian Veteran Council.