Edna Mary Anna Jane Shaw was born on 7 June 1891 at Murrumburrah, New South Wales. She undertook nursing training at the Marrickville Cottage Hospital in 1914-1917, and obtained her midwifery certificate from the Royal Hospital for Women, Paddington, in June 1918. She obtained her mothercraft certificate in 1927 from the Tresillian Mothercraft Training School, Petersham, run by the Royal Society for the Welfare of Mothers and Babies.
Edna was appointed acting Matron of Crown Street Women’s Hospital for a month in January 1919, and stayed on as deputy Matron under new Matron Agnes Clarke, taking charge of the district nursing. She also took charge of the new outpatient department in 1924, and the new premature babies ward in 1928. She was appointed Matron of Crown Street in 1936.
Matron Shaw was said to visit every mother and baby daily, provide clinical care where needed, instruct the nursing and midwifery staff, inspect the kitchen, laundry and staff quarters, and tend to the running of the hospital such as stoking the furnace, answering the switchboard, cooking, or even scrubbing floors.
Matron Shaw believed in rooming in (keeping mothers and babies together on the ward) and early discharge to home. While she embraced scientific advances to promote safer childbirth, she maintained that love and common sense remained essential.
Tall and serene, Matron Shaw had large, sparkling, blue-grey eyes and a warm smile. Known as ‘the mother of 100,000 babies’, she was loved far and wide and was highly respected by her staff. She was appointed O.B.E. in June 1950 and, on retiring on 31 October 1952, was presented with a cheque for £1000, following a public appeal. A new wing of the nurses’ home was named in her honour.
Edna Shaw died on 25 January 1974 and is buried in Waverley cemetery.
Read more at Australian Dictionary of Biography