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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Carson, Alfred (1859–1944)

by O. K. Battye

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

Alfred Carson (1859-1944), journalist and social worker, was born on 7 November 1859 at Upper Swan, Western Australia, son of George Carson, wheel-wright, and his wife Charlotte, née Hadley. Educated at the Guildford government school, he became an assistant master at Perth Boys' School at 18 and about a year later headmaster of the Geraldton Boys' School. The school building also housed the weekly Victorian Express and, in his leisure, Carson sometimes set type and read proofs. Having joined the Express staff in the mid-1880s, he soon became its editor. He married Eva Massingham of Dongara on 5 August 1884.

When the Geraldton and Murchison Telegraph was founded in July 1892, Carson was appointed editor. On his return to Perth, after a short period as leader-writer on the Daily News, he joined the West Australian in January 1896 as cable-editor and leader-writer, and was later associate editor. He succeeded Robert Robertson as editor of the Western Mail in 1912. He represented the West Australian at newspaper conferences in Sydney and Melbourne and in 1917 conducted the company's case before the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration when Mr Justice (Sir Isaac) Isaacs made the first journalists' award. Among other overseas assignments, Carson represented Western Australia on a press delegation visiting the Western Front and the United Kingdom in 1918. In 1922 he resigned to contest Perth in the House of Representatives as a Nationalist but was unsuccessful and resumed journalism. He retired in 1938 but was recalled in 1941 because of wartime staff shortages.

Carson was involved in social work for most of his career and in 1908 was appointed by the (Sir) Newton Moore government as a special commissioner to investigate liquor-licensing legislation in the eastern States. He was a founder of the Infant Health Association, president of the Silver Chain District Nursing Association for thirty years, and chairman of the Bush Nursing Society in 1923-44 and the McNess Housing Trust; he was also on the executives of the Flying Doctor Service and of the Australian Red Cross, a justice of the peace, an honorary magistrate of the Children's Court and a keen Freemason. He was appointed O.B.E. in 1941. When Carson died on 24 August 1944, warm tributes were paid for lifetime of devoted service to young and old in need. Survived by his wife, two sons and three daughters, he was cremated at Karrakatta after a Methodist service, leaving an estate sworn for probate at £688.

Select Bibliography

  • N. Stewart, Little But Great (Perth, 1965)
  • West Australian, 5 Jan 1933, 2 Jan 1941, 25 Aug 1944
  • Daily News (Perth), 1 Jan 1941
  • staff records (W.A. Newspapers Ltd, Perth).

Citation details

O. K. Battye, 'Carson, Alfred (1859–1944)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 25 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

View the front pages for Volume 7

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