HerStory Archive

BLACK, Hope

Also known as: Jessica Hope Black nee Macpherson

Born: 7/2/1919

Died: 25/1/2018

Special Achievements:

Hope Black was the first woman curator (of Mollusks) at the Museum of Victoria (1947); and one of the first four women scientists to visit an Australian Antarctic base (Macquarie Island: 1959). Her research in malacology (the study of mollusks) and marine biology has had lasting impact, increasing scientific knowledge of southern Australia and sub-Antarctic environments.

Additional Information:

Hope began her research career in 1937 as a museum assistant at the National Museum of Victoria. After graduating from Melbourne University in 1946, she was promoted to Curator of Molluscs, the first woman to achieve a curatorial appointment at the museum.

After undertaking extensive surveys in the Snowy River Gorge and Port Phillip Bay regions, Hope proved her abilities in conducting field-based research. Along with fellow pioneer scientists Mary Gillham and Isobel Bennett, and as a result of requests on the part of the women, she travelled to sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island with the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) in 1959, and again the following year. As one of the first women to travel south with ANARE, Hope’s hard work and dedication paved the way for others.

On marrying in 1965, Hope was forced to resign from the public service due to the marriage bar which, at that time, excluded married women from working. She retrained as a teacher, and remained an honorary Curator of Museum Victoria.

Before retirement, she was a consulting malacologist to the National Science Foundation of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, U.S. She was a distinguished member of the Malacological Society of Australasia.

In 2012, Black was inducted into the Victorian Women’s Honour Roll.


Resources

  • Image - Hope Black

    Image courtesy of Hope Black, NPWHF collection


  • References

    Hope Black co-authored the book, Marine Molluscs in Victoria (1962), still widely used as the seminal reference on this topic.


  • Image - Four women scientists on polar vessel "Thala Dan"

    Standing (left to right): Susan Ingham and Hope Black Seated (left to right): Dr Mary Gillham and Dr Isobel Bennett

    Photo courtesy of Hope Black, NPWHF collection