Researching a biography: Janet Fraser and political partnerships, Hilary Stace, 16 November 2023

Part of Friends of the Turnbull Public Programme — 2023 series

Thursday 16 November 2023, 5:30pm to 6:30pm

Taiwhanga Kauhau — Auditorium, (lower ground) National Library Wellington. Entrance on Aitken Street or on Zoom.

Free. Koha from non-members appreciated.

Janet Fraser was the political partner and wife of Prime Minister Peter Fraser. Both Scots-born, Janet and Peter met in Auckland and were active in the formation of the Labour Party. Dr Hilary Stace is writing the first published monograph on Janet Fraser, and in this talk she will discuss her research journey.

An untold history

Janet Fraser (1883–1945), the wife and political partner of Labour Prime Minister Peter Fraser, was a political feminist of the first post-suffrage generation. Janet and her socialist friends were community and political activists while also providing essential support for their husbands’ work.

Among other achievements, Janet spent many years on the Wellington Hospital Board, welcomed Eleanor Roosevelt to New Zealand and helped to organise the immigration of Polish refugee children. But her life and work has largely been overlooked in the historical record.

Research in the internet era

Hilary Stace first wrote about Janet Fraser 30 years ago but is finding biographical research in 2023 to be a very different experience. It is also fascinating how many historical threads intersect.

About the speaker

Dr Hilary Stace worked at the Alexander Turnbull Library and Dictionary of New Zealand Biography before returning to university to complete a PhD on autism. One of many who advocated for the current Royal Commission on Abuse in Care, she has lobbied for a disability archive to gather stories of abuse, disability activism and rights victories. Author of many articles and reviews, Hilary’s biography JB Munro: community citizen was published in 2019. In 2023 Hilary was awarded the Friends of the Turnbull Library research grant for her project ‘Janet Fraser: Political Partnerships’ giving her the opportunity to return to a subject she first researched 30 years ago.

More information can be found here.