Cultural Advice

Aboriginal Peoples are advised the Library Collection contains images, voices and names of deceased people in physical and online resources.

The Library recognises the significance of the traditional cultural knowledges contained within its Collection. The Library acknowledge some materials contain language that may not reflect current attitudes, was published without consent or recognition, or, is offensive. These materials reflect the views of the authors and/or the period in which they were produced and do not represent the views of the Library.

Skip to Main Content

de Lissa Association Collection banner including images of a Wooden boat; Lillian de Lissa; book - Verse and Story Collection; Flash cards; and Betty Davis

The de Lissa Association Collection was donated by the de Lissa Association of Early Childhood Graduates upon its disassociation in 2011. The Association (previously known as the Kindergarten Club) was established in 1911 and actively supported Early Childhood Education in South Australia in several ways. Their activities included advocacy for early childhood, a student prize for original research, the Betty Davis Research Grant, funding for early childhood education ventures and the lending of pianos to contribute to music programs in Kindergarten. 

Material in the Collection relates to the history of the Kindergarten Movement from its beginnings and the development of early childhood education in South Australia, including records related to educational pioneer Lillian de Lissa. Records relating to Gypsy Hill Training College (UK) also form part of the collection. Material relating to the Collection but not part of the original donation have been added to the Collection, including records related to Betty Davis, a former student and later principal of the Kindergarten Training College. 

The Collection includes papers, correspondence, books, photographs, newspaper clippings, slides and items made by graduates which were used for teaching in kindergartens. 

Banner images of items from the de Lissa Association Collection - Wooden boat; Lillian de Lissa; Verse and Story Collection; Flash cards; Betty Davis

Access and explore the collection

The Collection is housed in the Sir Eric Neal Library at the University of South Australia Mawson Lakes Campus. Access is by appointment only. 

Contact Ask the Library to make an appointment.

You can discover what is in the Collection through the Box List, or explore the Collection by browsing Collection Discovery or searching the Special Collections Catalogue.

Digital copies of some items are available by browsing Collection Discovery or searching the Special Collections Catalogue.

From the Collection

Graduating Kindergarten Training College students from 1938

Handmade book about Christmas made by a Kindergarten Teachers College student in 1957


picture of toy train, navagate to catalogue record

A wooden toy train made by Cynthia Hannaford in the early 1960s at the Kindergarten Training College

Photograph of children playing with bubbles

Children using bamboo bubble pipes to blow bubbles at Port Adelaide Kindergarten in the 1940s

Paper folding book showing paper folding techniques made in 1935 by Kindergarten Training College student Joan Goode

Children playing with water in the Netherby Kindergarten's paddling pool in 1954

Handmade lambs made from pipe cleaners

The de Lissa Legacy - a history of South Australia's early childhood education



Jeph Ko 2017, The de Lissa legacy: a history of South Australia’s early childhood education, video (12 min 50 sec) produced for the University of South Australia Library

Lillian de Lissa and Betty Davis

Photograph of Lillian de LissaLillian de Lissa is a key figure in the establishment of the Kindergarten movement in South Australia. Born in Darlinghurst Sydney, she dedicated herself to educating young children. Training at the Kindergarten College, Sydney, de Lissa graduated in 1902 and then went on to teach and then direct kindergartens in Sydney. In 1905 she accompanied the principle of the Sydney Kindergarten College to Adelaide to demonstrate kindergarten methods which led to the the formation of the Kindergarten Union of South Australia (KUSA).

De Lissa was recruited by the Union to teach at Adelaide's first free kindergarten which they opened in Franklin Street in 1906. The following year they established the Adelaide Kindergarten Training College to train teachers in early childhood education, with de Lissa as the principal. She also went on to visit Perth in 1911, resulting in the establishment of the Kindergarten Union of Western Australia. She travelled through Europe in 1913-1915 to learn the MontesPhotograph of Dr Betty Davissori method, which she brought back to South Australia. In 1917 she went to England and became the foundation principal of Gipsy Hill College in Surrey. Throughout her life she was a passionate advocate for early childhood education, speaking at seminars and publishing many articles.

Dr Betty Davis had a distinguished career in early childhood education in South Australia. Starting as a teacher, she went on to be a director of several kindergartens around Adelaide. She was employed by the Kindergarten Union of South Australia after a time in Perth. After lecturing at the Kindergarten Training College, she became the principal in 1957. Davis was involved in the establishment of the Kingston College of Advanced Education. The University of South Australia granted her an Honorary Doctorate and she was a Fellow of the Australian College of Educators and a Member of the Order of Australia.

Discover more

Biographical information

Related UniSA Library Collections

Related UniSA Library Guides