Sepia image of Hope Black nee Macpherson holding her degree, taken at the conferring of her degree at Melbourne University in April 1946.

Hope Macpherson was the first female Curator at the National Museum of Victoria. She began as a general Museum assistant in 30th August 1937 working on displays. She studied for her zoology degree part-time whilst working at the Museum, making up the time in the evening and on weekends.

On 14th January 1946 Hope was appointed Curator of Molluscs and went on to publish Marine Molluscs of Victoria with Charles Garbriel. Hope was one of the party of four women to be the first allowed to visit the Antarctic, Macquaire Island for research in December 1959.

Upon her marriage in 1965 she was required to resign from her professional position under the terms of the marriage bar. She went on to have a distinguished career as an educator.

Description of Content

Sepia image of Hope Macpherson holding her degree, wearing academic gown and glasses, standing slightly side on in front of brick wall. Full length view without feet.

Physical Description

Sepia photograph 'Velox' Kodak Print,


The Hope (Macpherson) Black Collection is a significant addition to Museum Victoria's working lives collection, it reveals the journey of a woman from depression era Melbourne and illustrates the power of education. It also reveals the often discriminatory policies in place in Victoria before the equal opportunity developments of the late 20th century. In balance though it also exposes the somewhat free expression possible for empowered women in this period. Hope Macpherson clearly states that in her day to day work she never felt discrimination and believes she was given great opportunity to pursue her career and aspirations. However, on analysis her role was often shaped by her gender and its perceived strengths and weaknesses; she was dissuaded from applying to become a taxidermist as it was 'an unsuitable job for a woman', although part of the first group of female scientists allowed to travel to Macquarie Island they were not permitted to camp on land with the male crew for fear of inciting passions. And finally after a distinguished career she was forced to resign her tenure as Australia's first female Curator when she married late in life, as a consequence of the Marriage bar.

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