Ursula McConnel

Ursula McConnel

Name: Ursula McConnel

Epoch: Early 20th Century (the \'Long Early Twentieth Century\')

Grouping Field: Natural and Theoretical Sciences

Location Grouping: Individual\'s Work Location

Map Coordinates: 27°28\'39.3\"S 153°01\'45.0\"E

Years At Location: 1918-1931

One Historical Setting: Miss Ursula Hope McConnel, Post-Graduate Student, Department of Philosophy, University of Queensland Old, George Street, Brisbane City (1918)

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From Cressbrook, near Toogoolawah, Ursula McConnel was educated at the Brisbane High School for Girls and later at New England Girls’ School, Armidale. McConnel spent most of her time in Brisbane as a student at the University of Queensland (B.A. Hons, 1918; M.A., 1931). She studied psychology in her brother-in-law Elton Mayo’s department at the University. McConnel was to become the foundering contributor to modern anthropological research on western Cape York Peninsula, along with the more well-known anthropologist Donald Thomson.

Impact On Brisbane Society

The horrible twist in McConnel’s story is that her scholarly contribution was not recognized until after her death in 1957. It was a combination of being passed over for academic appointments in Australia, and the unfortunate luck of illness and stress preventing the completion of a Ph.D. thesis at the University College, London. Although McConnel retired to Cressbrook in the mid-1930s, and then moved to Eagle Heights, a neighbourhood of Tamborine Mountain, she did die at Hillcrest Private Hospital, Kelvin Grove, largely unknown to Brisbane Society.


Anne Perusco O’Gorman. ‘McConnel, Ursula Hope (1888–1957)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mcconnel-ursula-hope-10917/text19393, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 3 November 2017.

Leslie, Christina. Re-Reading Australian Women Ethnographers: A Feminist Appraisal of the Anthropological Work of Phyllis Kaberry, Olive Pink and Ursula McConnel in the 1930s, School of Humanities (Women’s Studies), M.A. Thesis, La Trobe University, 1995.

McKay, Judith. Brilliant Careers: Women Collectors and Illustrators in Queensland, Queensland Museum, South Brisbane, 1997.

O’Gorman, Anne. The Snake, the Serpent and the Rainbow: Ursula McConnel and Aboriginal Australians, Melbourne University Press , Carlton, Vic, 1993.

O’Gorman, Anne. Ursula McConnell: the Archaeology of an Anthropologist, The Australian National University, Department of Anthropology and Prehistory, B.A. Hons. Thesis, 1989.

Image Citation

Ursula McConnel (approx. 1938) Archive: State Library of Queensland