Queensland Policewoman's Summer Uniform 1965 - 1970

Contributed by: Queensland Police Museum

Front view. Front and left side view. Rear view of dress. Front and left close up view of bodice and sleeve. Close up view of bodice of dress. C1978: A female recruit dressed in the summer uniform for an event. PM1273: Constable Holman demonstrates with Police Cadet Malcolm Taylor what she could do to any man that tried to pat her. The Sunday Mail - 5 March 1967, p.5. PM2739: Constable Roslyn Kelleher PW11, walking the beat with two Senior Constables at Rockhampton in 1966. PM1279: Constable Noala Holman photographed for a "Woman's World" article entitled "Policewomen play vital role", in 1966.
  • Australian dress register ID:

    555
  • Owner:

    Queensland Police Museum
  • Owner registration number:

    QP184
  • Date range:

    1965 - 1970
  • Place of origin:

    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  • Gender:

    Female
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Object information

Significance statement

Females officially entering into the Queensland Police Force is not only a significant story in the gender history of Queensland, but represents the social and historical progression of the Queensland Police. The Queensland Policewoman's summer uniform was the first uniform to be assigned to women in Queensland. The short, drab olive green dress came with a belt to gather the waist and add a more feminine flair. It is not a decorative piece, its main function was to act as an everyday uniform for policewomen during the summer months. It is straight-cut, fastened by concealed buttons and takes its shape from the stitching. There is some evidence of alterations indicating that the dress has, at one stage, been worn. The buttons from the waist down are different and are sewn onto the dress using different coloured thread. The hook and eye at the waist is also broken further indicating wear. Despite this, the dress is in a good condition. The fabric is still a vibrant green colour and it is complete with a belt. The condition of the uniform is significant in itself. As the drab olive uniform was phased out in favour of the navy blue uniforms in 1971, it is also significant that one of the original olive green uniforms has survived as it was not manufactured over a long period of time.

The period of history that this uniform represents is where its real value and significance can be found. Prior to 1965, women wore civilian clothing as they were not formally recognized by the Queensland Police Force. In 1965, however, this changed as a group of young women were granted power of arrest and were allowed to participate in traditional training and law programs. Most importantly, they could receive a rank in the force and Elizabeth Rose Boyle achieved the rank of Sergeant Second Class in 1965. By 1970 there were twenty-seven policewomen in Queensland. Women had entered into police roles in Germany in 1905 and followed by America in 1910. The uniform, therefore, represents Queensland's coming of age in the gender history of policing. It is a physical representation of acceptance. Women were now able to be accepted into the Police Force. Although the Force was not yet gender-equal, this uniform represents the important first step that was made towards a more equal Police Force. 

Author: Virginia Gordon and Rebecca Lush, 20 August 2014.

Description

Slightly above the knee-length, short-sleeved, olive green dress, probably synthetic. The dress can be roughly divided into the top, gathered waist and skirt which flows straight from the waist. The colour is described in the police commissioner reports as "drab" olive green. On the top half of the dress are three silver 'Queen's Crown' buttons running down the centre. They have Queensland Police Force inscribed on them. Smaller versions of these silver buttons are found at the bottom of each sleeve. These buttons are located on small cuffs at the bottom of the sleeve. The collar is not stiff but soft and is the same green colour as the dress. There are four holes in the centre at the front of the collar which were used to secure the registered number badges as seen in the 1965-1970 photograph of the uniform. This uniform displays badge PW 83. The PW stands for Police Woman. These badges were used to distinguish female policewomen from their male colleagues. At the waist of the dress are belt loops and a belt which is the same colour as the dress. Just below the waist are two pockets either side of the dress. Following down from the waist are four concealed buttons in the centre of the dress. On the back of the dress above the waist is a slit in the back and gathering either side into the slit.

History and Provenance

Do you have any stories or community information associated with this?

This uniform is the first example of a Queensland Policewoman's summer uniform. Prior to this year, women in the Queensland Police wore civilian clothing and were not granted a uniform. From 1965 policewomen were granted power of arrest and were required for the first time to undergo training in law and police duties. They were also able to obtain a rank in the police force. At the induction ceremony Elizabeth Rose Boyle was sworn in as a Sergeant 2nd Class' and the other seven were Constables. To conform to the male police officers during this period, the uniform for females was the same colour. In 1971 the drab olive uniforms were phased out in favour of blue uniforms that had existed prior to this time. According to Constable Roslyn Kelleher participating in the police force did not mean a woman lost her femininity. Kelleher was encouraging other women to join the police force to benefit the community.

How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?

Policewomen had been sworn in first in Stuttgart, Germany in 1905 and then in Los Angeles from 1910. In 1965, policewomen in other States of Australia had enjoyed equal powers, pension rights and staff allocations. It was in this wider historical context that Queensland decided to formally allow women into the Police Force.

Where did this information come from?

The Queensland Police Museum Archives and Journey to Equality by Lisa Jones, Tim Prenzler and Carol Ronken.

This garment has been exhibited

This garment has not been exhibited.

  1. Place of origin:

    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

  2. Cost:

    An Administrative Circular from the Commissioner of Police on the 28 January 1966 stated that the dress would cost $9.32 to replace if damaged or destroyed while arresting persons for various offences and that Courts should be asked for restitution for that amount.  In October 1969 the cost of the dress was $9.45. 

  3. Owned by:

    A Queensland Policewoman would wear this dress during the summer months of the year. 

  4. Occasion(s):

    Would be worn on Police duty.

  5. Designed by:

    It was most likely designed by the Queensland Police.

  6. Made by:

    Advice from the Police Commissioner's Memorandum on the 8 July 1965 indicated that Woulfe and Son Pty. Ltd. would hold the contract for police uniforms from 1965-1966. They might have made this uniform if it was manufactured in this time period. 

  7. Made for:

    A Queensland Policewoman. It was a standard summer uniform for all Queensland Policewomen from 1965 until the end of 1970.

Trimmings / Decoration

The only stitching on the dress is a light green thread on the pockets, cuff of the sleeves, around the button hole and from the waist down the front to the bottom of the dress. This stitching is also on the belt loops.

Fibre / Weave

The dress fabric is probably synthetic. As this garment was created in the 1960s, the green, olive dye would be synthetic.

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye

Manufacture

The body of the dress has been machine sewn. The stitching is a consistent size and length and does not show any irregularities that may indicate hand stitching. The buttons from the waist of the dress to the bottom have been hand sewn.

Label

No label. 

Alterations

There is no obvious sign of alterations. All buttons are uniform on the dress. The concealed buttons beneath the silver Queensland Police Force buttons are all translucent stitched on with white thread.

  1. Hand sewn
  2. Machine sewn
  3. Knitted
  4. Other

Cut

The cut of the dress is very straight with no flaring in the skirt and only slight gathering at the waist.

  1. Bias
  2. Straight

Fastenings

There are three silver 'Queen's Crown' buttons with a crown and the words "Queensland Police Force" inscribed. The same buttons but slightly smaller are on the cuff of the sleeve. The buttons on the sleeve are purely decorative and serve no fastening purpose. Five buttons, all translucent, are concealed in the centre of the dress to secure the opening from the waist. On the waist is a hook and eye. The eye is a piece of fabric that has been hand stitched onto the dress.

  1. Hook and eye
  2. Lacing
  3. Buttons
  4. Zip
  5. Drawstring

Stiffening / Lining / Padding

The dress is made from fairly stiff material. There is evidence of stitching used to shape the garment in the top half of the dress. Panels of stitching and gathering define the top of the dress and the waist.

Measurements

dress
Girth
Neck 420 mm
Chest 960 mm
Waist 810 mm
Hip 1110 mm
Cuff 340 mm
Hem circumference 1350 mm
Vertical
Front neck to hem 865 mm
Front waist to hem 565 mm
Back neck to hem 950 mm
Back waist to hem 573 mm
Sleeve length 235 mm
Horizontal
Neck to sleeve head 180 mm
Cross back 365 mm
Underarm to underarm 490 mm
Convert to inches

The belt of the dress is 980 mm long and 200 mm wide. The belt loops on the dress are 180 mm.

Dress Themes

This uniform was everyday wear for Queensland policewomen in summer.

Condition

The only note to be made about the condition of the uniform is that it has been worn. The colour of the uniform has slightly faded. 

Evidence of repairs

There is no evidence to suggest repairs to the garment.

Insect damage

There is no evidence of insect damage. The more modern type of material used to create this dress has not attracted insects such as moths.

Mould damage

There is no evidence of mould damage.

State

  1. Excellent
  2. Good
  3. Fair
  4. Poor

Damage

  1. Worn

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