Mary Ellinor Lucy ARCHER

Also known as: Ellinor Archer professionally

Born: 13 November 1893

Died: 3 May 1979

Special Achievements:

Mary Archer was CSIRO's first woman scientist, and chief librarian from 1923-1954. She is commemorated by the Library Association of Australia's Ellinor Archer award, first bestowed in 1984. In November 1918 Archer was appointed secretary and investigator to the special committee on seed improvement of the Advisory Council of Science and Industry (Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry from 1920). The committee endeavoured to improve crops and published bulletins in 1922-23 (which she probably wrote) on the classification of barleys, oats and wheats. In May 1923 she took charge of the institute's library; following the inauguration (1926) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, her post was reclassified in 1929 as librarian and scientific assistant. She was secretary to the citrus preservation committee, compiled a register of agricultural research, and was effectively head librarian and supervisor of libraries in divisions and experimental stations. Visiting scientific libraries in Britain in 1936, she studied the universal decimal classification and, on her return, encouraged its introduction in C.S.I.R. libraries. Her title was changed to chief librarian in January 1946.

A foundation member (1937) and first female president (1948-49) of the Australian Institute of Librarians, Archer made a lasting contribution to her profession. She became a successful librarian and senior administrator in an organization which had few women in positions of authority. 

Additional Information:

Mary Archer was appointed MBE - The Order of the British Empire - Member (Civil) - 2 January 1956 for her work as the CSIRO's chief librarian.


  • Image - Ellinor Archer, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), 25.7.73

    Image courtesy of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, reference number 3740 001

  • Document - Obituary

    The Australian Library Journal, Volume 28 Number 15, September 7 1979

    Document courtesy of Jill Marshall

    View File

  • Image - Mary Ellinor Archer on her retirement

    Image courtesy of Jill Marshall

  • Document - Assorted papers on Mary Ellinor Archer

    Bright Sparcs Biographical entry; ALIA awards; conference paper by Philip G Kent (2001); archival papers from CSIRO (press release and assorted correspondence)

    Documents courtesy of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    View File