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SDN history publication wins a Mander Jones award

SDN’s history publication, 'Children, a life interest: a biography of Joan Fry OBE' by experienced historian Dr Leone Huntsman has won a 2016 Mander Jones award from the Australian Society of Archivists (ASA) for ‘Best publication that uses, features or interprets Australian archives, written by or on behalf of a corporate body’.

SDN was extremely proud to accept this prestigious award on behalf of Dr Huntsman and SDN (particularly the team past and present in the SDN Archive) at the ASA’s national conference held in Melbourne in September 2017.

Leonie Huntsman receiving Mander Jones award

Dr Leone Huntsman (L) with SDN Archivist Susan Mills

This book, commissioned by SDN, explores the philosophy and practice of Joan Fry, an important early childhood education and care expert in SDN and Australian history.

Joan Fry was a pioneering early childhood education professional in NSW at a time when the importance of the early years was not always recognised. She was a remarkable advocate who recognised the essential importance of children’s early years and was dedicated to improving the wellbeing of young children and their families. Joan believed that children learn from birth and are individuals who thrive when they feel understood and valued.

Joan Fry graduated with a diploma from SDN’s Nursery School Teachers’ College in 1941, and started her professional career as a nursery school teacher and Director at SDN’s centre in Woolloomooloo (which SDN still runs). By the 1950s, Joan oversaw practical training at the Nursery School Teachers’ College, and was appointed college Principal in the 1960s.

The 1970s saw Joan apply her professional knowledge and experience to the political landscape as chair of the Federal Government’s Australian Pre-Schools Committee and authored what was to be known as the ‘Fry Report’, tabled in Federal Parliament in 1973.

The SDN Archive welcomed visits from Dr Huntsman during her extensive research. The archival material richly illustrates Joan’s story. It is also used to place Joan’s story in the context of SDN and the early childhood education and care sector, and the wider landscape of Australia’s education, social and political history.

This publication can also be enjoyed as part of SDN’s monographs by the same author – ‘For the little ones the best’: SDN Children’s Services 1905 – 2005 and The Nursery School Teachers’ College: a life history.

Joan Fry OBE