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Sister Elizabeth Kenny Archive

Elizabeth Kenny (1880-1952) was born on 20 September 1880 in Warialda, NSW, later moving with her family to Queensland. After training at a private hospital in Sydney she worked as a bush nurse until 1915 when she enlisted and was appointed as a staff nurse in the Australian Army Nursing Service.

After the war she resumed her work as a bush nurse. In the course of this work Sister Kenny saw many victims of poliomyelitis and gradually developed her own methods of treating these patients. Her treatment, which concentrated on strengthening the muscles and encouraged patients to abandon their braces and splints and undertake active movements, was opposed by the medical profession but received strong community and political support. In 1932 she established a treatment clinic in Townsville and despite continuing opposition from the medical profession clinics using her methods were later opened in Brisbane and elsewhere.

In 1940 Sister Kenny visited the United States where her methods were very favourably received and Kenny clinics were opened in a number of places. She became a heroine of the American people; in 1950 she was honoured by Congress and in 1952 she was voted the most admirable woman in the United States. Although most of her time was spent in the United States she made several trips home to Australia and died in Toowoomba, Qld on 30 November 1951.

Archive Location: 404R


Detailed Listing


Sister Elizabeth Kenny's funeral

Sister Kenny re-union. Post-polio symptoms/history. Open forum and interviews with past patients 12/04/1992. Tapes 1 and 2.

Sister Kenny

Sister Kenny, Channel 10

Inaugural Sister Elizabeth Kenny Oration, 1991

Opening of the Sister Elizabeth Kenny Memorial Pool

Interview with Mary McCracken, 15/04/1993. 10 minutes.

Rural education. 13 minutes.


3 photographs of Sister Kenny: 1944 award for meritorious service and Sister Kenny and Mary McCracken and baby.

2 negatives of Sister Kenny.


"Sister Elizabeth Kenny Clinic Townsville North Queensland" Summary of facts relating to the establishment of the above clinic and copies of reports submitted by medical officers attached thereto, 1934-1935. (Water damaged)

Autographs 1915-1950 (Photocopy)


1. Documents (photocopies)

Sister Elizabeth Kenny posthumous testimonial Fellow of Royal College of Nursing 11/08/1995.

Last will and testament of Sister Elizabeth Kenny (two: 1925 and 1954)

Birth certificates relating to Mary Stewart Kenny.

Deed of grant of land in parish of Hodgson, County of Aubigny.

2. Documents

Photocopies of newspaper cuttings, articles, correspondence, official papers donated by S & M McCracken which relate to Sister Kenny. Includes songs and poem and a biography of Mary McCracken, 1926-1996.

3. Journals, 1996.

4. & 5. Inaugural Sister Kenny Oration, 1991

6. Third Sister Kenny Oration, 1993

7. Sister Elizabeth Kenny Orations - pamphlets 1991-1993.

8. Pamphlet (n.d.) and booklet - Hennepin County History (1978) relating to Sister Kenny.

9. Royal College of Nursing Conference, 1992.

10. Correspondence between Prof. Golding and Mary McCracken, 1992-1993.

11. Correspondence between Prof. Hayes and Mary and Stewart McCracken, 1993-1996.

12. Correspondence relating to Sister Kenny and biography of Mary McCracken, 1993-1996.


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