Fannie Eleanor Williams

Fannie Eleanor Williams
Born(1884-07-04)4 July 1884
Adelaide, South Australia
Died16 June 1963(1963-06-16) (aged 78)
Melbourne, Victoria
AwardsAssociate Royal Red Cross (1917)
Scientific career
InstitutionsWalter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Fannie Eleanor Williams MBE, ARRC (4 July 1884 – 16 June 1963), known as Eleanor Williams,[1] was an Australian scientist. She served as a bacteriologist during World War I, and was the third scientist and the first woman appointed to work at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research after its establishment in 1915. She directed a laboratory studying infectious diseases, and had particular expertise in dysentery, hydatid disease and snake venom. She co-founded Australia's first blood bank.

Early life and education

Fannie Eleanor Williams was born in Adelaide, South Australia on 4 July 1884. She was the second child and eldest daughter of James Williams and his wife Helen DuBois. Williams grew up in Reedbeds, near Henley Beach, where her father was a farmer.[2]

Williams trained as a nurse at the Adelaide Children's Hospital between 1904 and 1907. She was appointed sister in charge of the Thomas Elder Laboratory in 1907, and worked there for two years as an assistant to pathologist Dr Thomas Borthwick. In December 1909, Williams took up a position as nurse inspector with the Unley Local Board of Health for which she undertook home visits and tested patients for diphtheria, measles, and other notifiable diseases.[2]

In 1911, Williams returned to work with Dr Borthwick as an attendant in a new pathology research laboratory at the Adelaide Hospital. She was the first woman in South Australia to hold such an appointment. She remained in this role until late 1914.[2]

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