Bear-Crawford, Annette (1853–1899)

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Bear-Crawford, Annette (1853–1899)

Australian feminist. Born Annette Ellen Bear in East Melbourne, Australia, in 1853: died in London, England, on June 7, 1899; eldest of eight children of Annette Eliza (Williams) Bear and John Pinney Bear (a stock and station agent); attended Cheltenham Ladies' College, Gloucestershire, England; married William Crawford, in 1894.

Born in East Melbourne, Australia, into a household that valued education even for young ladies, Annette Bear-Crawford attended college and trained in social work in England, where she became acquainted with the women's movement and was active in the National Vigilance Committee. In 1890, after the death of her father, she rejoined her mother in Melbourne, becoming a leader in Melbourne's women's movement, which was struggling to get the vote. Noted for her organizational and speaking skills, Bear-Crawford set out to strengthen and unite existing suffrage societies. With the support of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, she formed the Victorian Women's Suffrage League and, in 1894, was instrumental in the founding of the United Council for Women's Suffrance, serving as its first president. In spite of lobbying and petitioning, the council proved unable to persuade the legislature to pass a suffrage bill.

In 1894, upon her marriage to William Crawford, Annette assumed the hyphenate Bear-Crawford. She then set out to educate other women for public work, training them in public speaking and encouraging them to run for school boards, sign on as police matrons, or become administrators for the Infant Life Protection Act (1890). She was one of the first members of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the Victorian Vigilance Society. Bear-Crawford also worked to secure legislation to raise the age of consent to 16 and to improve conditions in factories and mental asylums. In 1897, she organized the successful Queen's Willing Shilling fund to found Queen Victoria Hospital for Women, but would not live to see the facility opened.

Described by Beatrice Webb as a "gentletempered intelligent woman who keeps me company in the dowdiness of her dress," Bear-Crawford traveled to England in November 1898 to attend the Women's International Conference. She died of pneumonia on June 7, 1899, while in London.