In Australia a significant number of women were employed to measure and compute the position of stars for the Astrographic Catalogue at Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth Observatories. New archival research has provided evidence that the first women employed in astronomy in Australia were engaged due to this project.
This paper focuses on Mary Emma Greayer, who was employed as a computer at Adelaide Observatory from 1890, and Charlotte Emily Fforde Peel, employed as a star measurer, computer and astrographic assistant at Melbourne Observatory from 1898. The measurement bureaux at Melbourne, Perth and Sydney Observatories are examined within the context of women working on the Astrographic Catalogue in other observatories during the late nineteenth century.
Evidence is presented that individuals, such as Greayer and Peel, were vital to the completion of the Astrographic Catalogue and other astronomical work. Furthermore, it is argued that this evidence points to women having a broader role and greater agency within observatories in Australia and in astronomy than has previously been acknowledged.