1 - Nancye Enid Kent Perry

Date Range16 December 1918 - 26 July 2011

Nancye Kent Perry was the daughter of Nellie Enid Leahy and Palmer Kent. Palmer Kent was a senior official at the Bank of Australasia, retiring from the position of Chief Inspector in Melbourne in 1932. Apart from two years when the family lived in Melbourne, Nancye Perry grew up on Sydney's North Shore. She was a student at Firbank Church of England Girls' Grammar School in Brighton, Victoria from 1930 to 1932, and she attended Abbotsleigh Anglican Girls' School in Wahroonga from 1932 to 1937.

Nancye Perry began her undergraduate study at the University of Sydney in 1939. During the war, she deferred her degree for over a year to work at the CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) National Standard Laboratory. Nancye eventually graduated in 1945, but as opportunities for female entomologists in Australia were very limited she was forced to go abroad. She moved to the United Kingdom in 1946 where she worked as a timber entomologist at the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research’s Forest Products Research Laboratory in Buckinghamshire (1946-1950).

Family pressure saw Nancye return to Australia in August 1950 where she was only able to find temporary appointments. Her first post was with the CSIRO (1950-1951) where she worked on the Sirex woodwasp - a dangerous pest that was being brought to Australia in the cargo holds of foreign ships. Next Nancye spent six months at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute where she studied mosquitoes during the Murray Valley Encephalitis outbreak. Once that tenure was completed she joined the Victorian Fisheries and Game Department as a trout biologist (1951-1954). There she was involved in field work and the analysis of trout guts and scales. Finally in December 1954, Nancye found permanent employment with the Commonwealth Health Department’s Plant Quarantine Division where she was once again employed in the study of Sirex woodwasps. Much of her work was carried out at the Llanherne pine plantation near Hobart, Tasmania.

Nancye Perry’s career at the Commonwealth Health Department was short lived as she had to resign in 1957 after marrying. That year Nancye Perry married Warren Perry, a successful military historian working at the headquarters of ASIO [Australian Security Intelligence Organisation]. Nancye Perry's decision to cease working in 1957 reflected the legal restrictions then in place against the employment of married women in the public service. The family believes that conflict of interest issues to do with Warren Perry's work for ASIO also contributed to this decision.

Not wanting to be idle, Nancye Perry engaged in many part-time jobs including demonstrating zoology at the University of Melbourne, carrying out surveys and Census collection. In 1959 Nancye became interested, and highly skilled, in dog obedience training and later volunteered for approximately six years with Guide Dogs Victoria, chiefly in the puppy training scheme. In 1968 she turned her attention to art and took up painting classes. Nancye became competent in both oil and water colours and had her work exhibited on many occasions. She was a member of the Victorian Artist’s Society. Well versed in writing letters and other compositions, Nancye Perry also published a chronicle of her youth entitled Child of the ‘Twenties: Girl of the ‘Thirties (Hartwell, Victoria: Sid Harta Publishers, 2001). For many years Nancye and Warren Perry regularly attended meetings of the Victorian branch of the Book Collectors' Society of Australia. Nancye Perry acquired an extensive book collection, with specialisations including Australiana, ships, shipwrecks and the sea. For much of her life Nancye Perry managed a portfolio of investments in the stock market, and in this way she acquired independent financial means.

Nancye Kent Perry died of heart-related issues on the 26th of July 2011 at the Austin Hospital, Melbourne.

ReferencesFamily Tree extant in PERR00720 'N.E.K. Perry - [Birth?] Brief', Series 12, Guide to the Records of Nancye Kent Perry, MS 13758, State Library of Victoria, Australia.

PERR00241 School Reports 1926-1937, Series 2, Guide to the Records of Nancye Kent Perry, MS 13758, State Library of Victoria, Australia.

Letter from Charles Stitz to Nancye Perry regarding planned publication about Australian book collectors, extant in PERR00772, Catalogue Entitled Australian Book Auctions - March Gallery Sale And Other Records, Series 8, Guide to the Records of Nancye Kent Perry, MS 13758, State Library of Victoria, Australia.

Child of the 'Twenties: Girl of the 'Thirties, Nancye Kent Perry (Hartwell, Vic.: Sid Harta, 2001).

'Perry, Nancye Enid Kent', Who's Who in Australia 2003 edited by Catherine De Micheli (Melbourne: Crown Content, 2003).

'Perry, Nancye Enid Kent (1918-2011)', Australian Women's Register, Date accessed 26/09/2012.

Bright Sparcs entry: 'Perry, Nancye Enid Kent (1918 - )', published by The University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre on ASAPWeb, 1994 - 2007, Date accessed December 2009.

'Book Reviews', 2001-12, by Wallace Kirsop, The Book Collectors' Society of Australia, Date accessed 17/08/2012.

Personal conversation, Julie Deakins (Nancye Perry's niece) and Ann McCarthy (archivist, eScholarship Research Centre), 12/11/2012.

Published by the The University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre, March 2010
Listed by Anne Holloway, Michael Jones, Gavan McCarthy, Ailie Smith, Jenny Smith, Rachel Tropea and Ann McCarthy
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Updated 19 December 2012

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