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Ambassador at the Court:
The Life and Photography of Effie Baker

by Graham Hassall

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Chapter 12

Return to Australia and Goldsborough

The steamer stopped in Perth and Adelaide before reaching Melbourne on February 3rd, 1936.1 The following day Melbourne's daily paper, the Argus, reported:

A disciple of the Bahá'í Faith, which has as its object the establishment of universal peace on a foundation of religious unity throughout the world, Miss E. E. Baker, returned to Melbourne yesterday after living for eleven years in Haifa, Palestine, where the headquarters of the faith are established. Founded in 1844 in Persia by a young nobleman, whose great-grandson Shoghi Effendi, has succeeded him in leadership, the movement spread rapidly, and today there are branches in 46 countries, Miss Baker said. The chairman and secretary from headquarters in Adelaide are at present on a lecturing visit. There are many adherents of the faith in America... Miss Baker, who expects to remain in Melbourne for some time, will stay with her uncle, Mr W. Baker, at Woodend, for a few days.2


Goldsborough, Victoria

11 February 1936

My Dear Sister Maysie,

Today your letter to me was returned from Haifa. Many thanks for it. I am afraid my dear you are inclined to over-state my value and put me on a pedestal. Don't do it my dear for I'm certainly no saint whatsoever! Well! It was nice to see you all once again. When I reached Melbourne my uncle with his two daughters and their families, and two sisters of mine (one with her husband and little girl), were there to meet me, so we had quite a family reunion. I went straight up with my uncle to his home at Woodend. He would've been so disappointed otherwise, then next day I came home to see mother and here I am. My sister Jessie was unable to get down to the boat so I've not seen her yet, or my youngest sister. There is a cheap excursion from here on Saturday morning to town so I am returning by that to see my sister and will take mother down with me for a little change. I find both she and uncle have changed very much since I went away.

I am feeling much better for the sea boyage and now a quiet rest here will do me good. Mrs Hastings sent on a wire that Father and Mother Dunn sent asking if I were coming to Sydney but that is impossible at present, finances won't permit. I will have to leave that to some future date. I am glad Father is so much better. I am sorry the friends did not remind me about the sweets, however I shall post it on...

The weather is nice and cool so far so I am enjoying myself out in the fresh country air with nothing to do but eat and sleep. Your little gift is very nice and thank you very much. Well, I must go to the station and post off my mail. I have a pile of letters to answer. My sister had a nice wireless given to her for Xmas so we can listen in. The Adelaide station comes through very clearly and last night we heard the Adelaide boys choir very distinctly. Give my love to dear brothe Perce. It was good just to see him for a few minutes even,

much love to yourself, your loving sister, Effie.

In March, having spent some days with family members in Melbourne, Effie obtained a cheap excursion rail ticket to Sydney to visit Clara and Hyde Dunn for one week. She had seen Clara in Haifa in 1932 but Hyde's health was now failing, and Effie had not seen him for a decade. The Sydney Bahá'í community had grown more rapidly than its Melbourne counterpart. Ruby Beaver, and Oswald Whitaker and his wife were there; and as there were now more than a hundred Bahá'ís in Australia - including quite a number in Sydney - there were many new friends to make: Mariette and Stanley Bolton, Tom Dowson, Hilda Gilbert, Mrs Luby, Mrs McLachlan, Charlotte Moffitt, Gladys Moody, Jane Routh, and many others had heard of Effie's work in Haifa, and were now eager to meet her in person.

On March 16 Effie returned to Goldsborough. The contrast between living in Haifa and Goldsborough could not have been more marked. In the one, she was at the spiritual heart of the Bahá'í world community, and in the other, a remote and mostly abandoned gold-mining town far from city life. She resumed a quiet rural life. Whereas each new day in Haifa was marked by the arrival or departure of pilgrims from all parts of the world, life in Goldsborough was circumscribed by distance, and occurred at a pace determined by family and friends who did not necessarily allow the momentous events happening in other parts of the world to disturb their comfortable and tranquil existence. No longer was there the possibility of conversing with Shoghi Effendi, no longer the excitment of the weary pilgrim arriving early or late, to be cared for and made at ease. Effie would have preferred to be nearer to town, but caring for her mother prevented this. Being in the country was not without its advantages, on the other hand. It was better for her health, and was more restful, being away from the bustle of the big city.

The work and climate in Haifa had been strenuous. Effie had often referred to the heat in Haifa in her letters home. She may have returned primarily to care for her aging mother. But were there not her other sisters, and relatives in Victoria, capable of this? Had the war clouds gathering over Europe compelled Shoghi Effendi to send some workers to the safety of their homes? Fugeta had returned to Japan. Perhaps the workload in Haifa now required younger hands? But did not Fugita return to Haifa in the post-war years, and remain there until his death in 1976? "I am thinking of you always and to write you for long times ever since I came back to Haifa", Fugeta wrote to Effie in 1961, "...Now Mr Featherstone is returning to Australia after the conferences. He will take back the interesting news. I am working hard to develop top of Mt. Carmel behind the Archive building. Some day I wish you could come to see what I am doing"3 But this was not to be. If Effie made her own decision to return, it was made with heavy heart, as she freely admitted when writing to Shoghi Effendi in February 1937:

...I cannot realize that it is just twelve months since I reached home, and the anniversary of my dismissal and departure from Haifa has been very sad to me, and I have felt very depressed and downhearted...4

Soon after her return Shoghi Effendi wrote, through his secretary, to the Australian and New Zealand National Assembly, that Effie had left Haifa "with the consent and full approval of the Guardian", and stated further,

As you know, for over ten years she has been devotedly working for the Cause in Haifa, as keeper of the Western Pilgrim House and also as the custodian of the International Bahá'í Archives.

During this long period of service she has accomplished much for our beloved Cause, and she is now in need of some rest after so many years of strenuous labours. She is going to join her mother, and will, it is hoped, prove of great help to the friends throughout Australia and New Zealand in both their teaching and administrative activities.

The Guardian hopes, therefore, that the friends will give her all the opportunity she needs to help in the extension and consolidation of the Cause throughout Australia and New Zealand.

He is entrusting Miss Baker with a beautiful and most precious present for the friends; it is one of the finest photographs of the Master which, he wishes your NSA to place in your National Bahá'í Archives. He is, in addition, sending through her for the believers a bottle of attar of rose extracted by the friends in Persia.5

Effie also carried gifts to the Australian National Assembly from individual Bahá'ís in Haifa. Mahmud El Mouchoucaly of Port Said, for one, had entrusted her with a box of Turkish delight. Hilda Brooks wrote to thank Shoghi Effendi on the National Spiritual Assembly's behalf for the gifts, and to report that the community was thrilled to have Effie once more resident in Australia. The Guardian had requested that the National Assembly assist her in every way possible. It was decided that Melbourne, more than anywhere, was in need of her assistance.6 In April Shoghi Effendi again wrote through his secretary to encourage the National Assembly's interest in Effie's well-being:

On behalf of the Guardian I acknowledge with thanks and appreciation the receipt of your letter of March 12th with enclosure. He is grateful for the warm assistance extended by your N.S.A. to Miss Effie Baker, and hopes that she will be of valuable assistance to you all, specially to the friends in Melbourne. The task of organizing the believers in that center is no doubt a very responsible one, and the Guardian trusts that she will be able to fully acquit herself of it.7

In its October 1936 half-yearly report the Sydney Local Assembly observed that "it was a source of great pleasure" to have Effie in Sydney, and "to listen to many accounts of her experiences during her sojourn in service to the Bahá'í Cause".8 The National Spiritual Assembly included in its Annual Report Effie's return as one of the highlights of the year:

...Miss Effie Baker ... has returned to her home near Melbourne after many years service at the Pilgrim House at Haifa. Miss Baker visited Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and melbourne on her way home. We shall always remember this selfless servant of God, who made the Holy places seem very much nearer to us, and who showed us by the example of her own life, the meaning of self-sacrifice and true severance.

Travel was not easy in the first years after her return, as Effie had not yet established a source of income. The Australian Bahá'ís expressed their concern for Effie, now that she had returned from a decade of service in Haifa. When Annie Miller of Perth, for instance, learnt of her "very straightened circumstances" from Rose Webb, she wrote to the National Assembly, asking if Effie could be assisted. Although some Bahá'í businessmen in Sydney offered to the National Assembly to assist with the sale of her toys in Sydney and Melbourne, Effie responded that her "toys or any of the work" she did would "lose their artistic sense through mass production".9 She believed there was still room for handicrafts, but admitted there was only a small market.

She had intended applying to various schools for employment as an art instructor, but was disheartened by the discovery upon her return home that the trunk containing all her educational certificates had been opened and its contents disappeared.

When I came back from Haifa the trunk had been opened and the contents 'gone west'. It was being used as a bread bin. (She had left her possessions with a sister). All my certificates certifying my passing various exams were gone which would have been handy for me to apply for a position of art instructor when I came back. However no use crying over spilt milk"10

Perhaps Effie could have continued with her purpose, but this setback deflated her enthusiasm. We know from letters that she continued to earn a small income from orders of Calendars of Australian birds and animals. She also continued to make and sell handicrafts, and in the 1930s some of her photos of Australian wildflowers were used as a series on the covers of school books. By August 1936 she had established a darkroom and was earning a small income from photographic work. A brother-in-law secured work for her by showing samples to various business houses. She also continued to work with wood: not too long after her return she constructed a doll's house for raffling by a local charity. Its large rooms were fully furnished, and, most spectacularly, it was lit by a small battery-operated light - a feature which long remained in the memory of local residents who were to wait another twenty years before their own houses were provided with electricity.11

Effie only travelled from Goldsborough for short periods, spending most of her time at home caring for her sister and mother. Living with her mother and her sister Ester was not easy, as her sister, especially, had an entirely different temperament to her own. "Effie believed in turning the other cheek, and Ester believed in hitting that too", is how one relative described their relationship. According to another, most of Effie's time was spent:

looking after ungrateful relatives. That is a bit of a harsh statement, but even her sisters didn't get on too well with her, probably she was too kind to them and they abused the privilege?12

Mrs Baker passed away in September 1945. She had been loved by all in the Goldsborough district and had led, Effie felt, a "beautiful and unselfish life". Hearing of her death, the National Assembly expressed to Effie the condolances of its members.13 Ester, who suffered rheumatoid arthritis, continued to require her care: "It must be a painful and distressing disease", Effie wrote to Dulcie Dive, "and one can make allowances for irritability caused by it."14 Ester died about 1961. If Effie had thought differently to her sisters in the period before she became a Bahá'í, a decade spent in Palestine, and her experiences in Persia, had further broadened and expanded her knowledge of the world. It was easy for her to think of the world as "one country", and to see all people as members of one human family; for she had lived with and become close friends with people of vastly contrasting cultures.

Travelling once more

Although the Bahá'ís and their friends were thrilled at hearing Effie recount tales of her time in Haifa, and in Persia, she could not be coaxed into giving formal presentations. The National Assembly wrote to assure her of its members "interest and support in any work she may be able to undertake" and to ask her if she had any definite plans in mind.15 Effie replied, however, that she did not consider herself as being a public speaker:

I wrote and told Shoghi Effendi that I am not a speaker and cannot give talks or lectures and hoped he would not expect it of me. Miss Dugdale sent a note in Ethel Blundell's letter asking me to write articles for the Magazine but I don't feel capable to undertake that either.16

Despite this diffidence, the Bahá'í communities throughout Australia appreciated Effie's company and invited her at every opportunity to visit them to share her experiences of living in Haifa. From Goldsborough she made short trips to Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

She was a frequent visitor to her cousin, Hilda Anderson, at Greenhill near Kyneton, and she also visited as often as possible the family of her cousin, Mrs Wheeler. When in Sydney she often stayed on Garden Island, a small naval base in Sydney Harbour, in the company of Elaine and Captain Hutchinson, he being the son * of Sydney Bahá'í Charlotte Moffitt. In Brisbane, she stayed with her special friend Marie Kidd at "Green Hill", Meandarra. On one visit to Brisbane specifically to give an address, she enthralled some forty listeners with tales from her journey to take the photographs for the Dawnbreakers, with recollections of her pioneering work in colour photography in Australia, and with her account of the Dunn's first Bahá'í meetings in Australia.17

    * Guy Moffitt submitted this correction: In the text you reference that Effie Brooks, when in Sydney, often stayed on Garden Island with Captain Hutcheson and Elaine Hutcheson, he being the son of Charlotte Moffitt. Charlotte was my great grandmother; Elaine my great aunt and Hutch my great Uncle. Captain Hutcheson was, in fact, the son-in-law of Charlotte Moffitt. Elaine was her daughter, my grandfather's sister. [GM, 2018]

In 1936, the year in which Effie returned to Australia, the National Assembly did not convene a National Convention because it had expended a considerable amount on health care for Hyde Dunn, and could not afford the costs that a National Convention would have incurred incurred. When Convention was held the following year in Sydney Effie was unable to attend, and so missed the opportunity of once more meeting up with her fellow pilgrims Margaret Stevenson and Ethel Blundell. Disappointed at this, all Effie could do was send a cable to the Convention expressing her good wishes. Neither was Effie able to get to Melbourne when Freddie Schopflocher passed through.

Melbourne was the closest city to Goldsborough, and the Melbourne Bahá'í community was only slowly being consolidated, and Effie assisted teaching activities there at every opportunity. The Melbourne community had in fact struggled to exist and function since her departure in 1925, and at the time of Effie's return to Australia, only two or three of the first group of Bahá'ís remained. Unfortunately Kate McLoughlin, who had accompanied Effie and Martha to Tasmania and Adelaide, had been expelled from the Melbourne group by December 1925 by Hyde Dunn. She had been by turns a Catholic, a Bolshevic and a Socialist, and her efforts to disrupt the unity of the small group in Melbourne had provoked the most drastic action Hyde Dunn was ever required to take to ensure the continuation of the group.

27 March 1938

My Dear Gretta,

Your letter dated 22 February reached me safely and I am ashamed for delaying so long in answering it. I don't seem to have much time for writing and am afraid I have also become a bad correspondent for many a day. I don't seem to have much inspiration for writing. I think quite a few years have lapsed since I wrote to you last from Haifa. I was sorry not to be able to come to Yerrinbool for the summer school. I suppose you were delighted to meet Maysie after corresponding for so long with one another.

Miss Beaver sent me a copy of the letter written by Miss Ethel Dawe to Father and Mother Dunn after her visit to Haifa. She seems to have had a wonderful experience during her ten days stay there. One could not expect anything else. There is one great privilege denied her and that the personal meeting of the Greatest Holy Leaf. She surely met her in spirit but oh! to me Haifa was not the same without her Holy presence. She was the truest example of how the life of a Bahá'í should be lived.

During my long sojourn there I never saw once any difference in her life. She always radiated to rich and poor alike that wonderful radiating love. She exemplified all the attributes that make a perfect life. I just love to read and read that beautiful pen-picture of Khanum written by Marjorie Morten. Marjorie just effaces herself and brings Khanum a living person before one's eyes. How Khanum loved dear Marjorie and Marjorie loved her.

I am sure those who have not had the privilege of meeting her personally will do so as they read that article. Have you a picture of her? I will enclose the snap I took of her. I was photographing the picture of His Holiness the Báb in her room and Fugeta was there to assist me. I had asked Khanum two or three times if she would let me take a snap of her and as she seemed determined I did not press her. As she was sitting on the side of her bed watching me take the copy of the Báb's picture with great interest I thought I would ask her again as I had a spare plate. She said yes! After I had quickly focused the camera Fugeta spoke to me and just as I snapped the bulb she said "what did you say Fugeta?" and smailed, so that is how I got the photo. To me it is Khanum as I knew her. Some people say how think and frail her hands showing the veins but I just love them for I knew the soft loving caressing touch of these lovely fingers.

She was a person of few words but immediately you entered her presence you felt the warmth of her love. I do treasure the original manuscript of that article signed by Marjorie and given to me. I hope that sometime I will have the pleasure of meeting you agin. I send you my warm Bahá'í love and greetings and am glad that you still think of me and Martha. We had some happy times in Hobart.

In His Service, yours lovingly, Effie.

Teaching activities in Melbourne

In 1938 Hilda Brooks reported to Shoghi Effendi that: "the faithful ones" in Melbourne were "pitifully few in number".18 She travelled from Adelaide in the company of her sister and brother in law, Rose and Will Hawthorne, and a total of six National Assembly members - Stanley W. Bolton, Mr Whitaker, Ethel Blundell, Silver Jackman, Bob Brown, and Hilda Brooks - gathered in Melbourne to make plans, toward which Effie gave her full assistence. The National Assembly members spoke at several public lectures intended to attracting new enquirer, and even laid plans to hold the 1939 National Convention in Melbourne, although these could not be fulfilled. Effie travelled from Goldsborough on the last weekend the National Assembly members were in Melbourne, and delighted them with stories of life in Haifa. The Bahá'í Quarterly reported:

All those that took part feel that this teaching effort has been sucessful both in spreading the glad tidings and in helping the Melbourne friends to embark on a vigorous teaching campaign. We are sure that the loyal little band in Melbourne will be blessed and assisted in their efforts. Already we hear the news that they are conducting weekly public meetings and that the small room they had engaged for the purpose has been filled with eager enquirers.19

Although the National Assembly was disheartened by the condition of the Cause in Melbourne, they were excited to learn that Clara Dunn had received a letter from Martha Root containing the news that she was to once more visit Australia, on her way to North America from India. Martha Root arrived in Australia in January 1939. She spoke in Melbourne at the "Women's International League for Peace and Freedom", the Australian Church, the Writers Cultural Club, Esperanto Club, Women's League of Health, a Journalists luncheon, Kilvington Girls High School, and a Unitarian Church, before moving on to Sydney on March 12. Effie and the Dunns were present at a reception for Miss Root held on April 10.20

The need to develop the Melbourne Bahá'í community continued throughout the 1940s. Members of the National Teaching Committee and the National Spiritual Assembly campaigned in the Victorian capital in October and November 1940, and Effie travelled from Goldsborough to lend support to public meetings addressed by Jane Routh and Charlotte Moffitt. 28 people attended their two public meetings, at one of which Ron Cover, a new Bahá'í, also spoke.2 1 Hilda Brooks reported to the Guardian:

Miss Effie Baker has returned to her home at Goldsborough, Victoria. She receives a small Government pension and is happier now than she has been at any time since her return to Australia. Her life has not been easy since her home-coming but now the small pension gives her a feeling of security and she is happy and free to teach the Cause. The N.S.A. intends to help her in every possible way. We appreciate very much her great services to the Cause.22

Jane Routh and Charlotte Moffitt were two of Effie's closest friends. To both she gave pens that had belonged to `Abdu'l-Bahá. Hilda Brooks wrote to Effie jokingly, "did they tell you that I was jealous because you went up to Melbourne for their visit and not for mine? I certainly was."2 3 Effie was freer to travel now, and the NSA expressed the hope that she would be able to travel more often to Melbourne to assist the small group of Bahá'ís there. Hilda wished her to visit Adelaide.

Late in 1941 the National Assembly instructed its teaching committee to encourage Effie in teaching work in Melbourne, and offer her assistance for travel. It was mindful of the instruction in Shoghi Effendi's letter of January 1936 to give Effie all possible assistance in teaching in Australia.2 4 Hilda Brooks and Rose Hawthorne visited in April and June. Jane Routh visited in October 1940, Charlotte Moffitt in November, and Gretta Lamprill, Kit Crowder and Ethel Dawe visited in 1941.2 5 For a period during the war years Effie lived in as house-keeper for a pharmacist in Camberwell in Melbourne. In January 1942 Effie supported the Melbourne teaching work of Emily Axford, Hilda Brooks, and Hugh and Ethel Blundell. The Bahá'í Quarterly reported that she:

was able to attend all the meetings and give added interest by her personal charm and her experience as a Bahá'í living for so long in intimate association with the Bahá'ís at the centre of the Faith in Haifa, Palestine.26

Following Mrs Axford's talk at the Lyceum Club on the afternoon of Friday, January 16, at a reception held especially for those who had become interested in the Bahá'í Teachings during that teaching campaign, Effie, by general request, "delighted everyone by her simple interesting descriptions of Haifa, the Shrines and other places sacred to the memory of Bahá'u'lláh and the Holy Family".27

Sojourn in Sydney

Effie moved to Sydney in 1939 when Stanley and Mariette Bolton engaged her to mind their three children while they went on a world tour. Scheduled to last from May to November, the Bolton's travels were cut short by the outbreak of hostilities in Europe. In the meantime, Effie was elected in April 1939 to Sydney's Local Assembly. For the first time since her membership on the Melbourne Assembly, she was a member of a Local Spiritual Assembly. On the local body with her were Clara Dunn, Hilda Gilbert, Charlotte Moffitt, Gladys Moody, Jane Routh, Margaret Rowling, Oswald Whitaker and Mr W. Wilson. Although no records remain of the Assembly's activities, there is no doubt that Effie would have enjoyed working with her good friends. This was also the last opportunity she had to spend time with Hyde Dunn, who was ailing. He died on 17 February 1941, following a long illness. Margaret Stevenson had died in Auckland six days earlier. Oswald Whitaker died in 1942.

Now in her sixties, Effie displayed, according to Stanley Bolton junior, an "engaging sense of fun and good humour" while placed in charge of the Bolton children, and was a good disciplinarian. She often told the Bolton children stories of her photographic work in Persia, and with her encouragement they made for the Guardian a booklet of the "Hidden Words" of Bahá'u'lláh, in colours which she knew were his favourites - red, which denoted the blood of the martyrs, green, which symbolised the linkage between the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh, and gold, which represented the "the pure metal and the pure essence of the teachings". She delighted in pulling from the shelf to show to the children the first edition of the Dawnbreakers, in which one of the photos was reproduced upside down: "this was her sense of fun - it wasn't a mistake in her eyes - it was a bit of fun".28 At this time Effie continued her work as a freelance artisan, engaged in fretwork, photography, and painting. She always expressed her abiding affection for Shoghi Effendi, and her affinity with the women of the household in Haifa. But her years of taking photographs were almost over, and within a few years she had disposed of her precious cameras.29

The Yerrinbool School

In 1938 the National Assembly had accepted an offer by Mariette and Stanley Bolton to convene "summer schools" at their property at Yerrinbool, near Mittagong south of Sydney. The event became in subsequent years one of the most exciting annual gatherings for the Australian Bahá'ís. Although unable to attend the first few summer schools, Effie attended many over the following three decades.30 When she could not go, she cabled her greetings to the participants.31 Characteristically, Effie refused to regard herself as a speaker, and generally declined requests that she feature on the Yerrinbool School program. As she wrote from Goldsborough to Hilda Gilbert, secretary of the Yerrinbool School Committee:

mentioning about writing a paper my dear I've never attempted such a thing in my life. Afraid like the country side in which I am at present residing my brain is very droughty. To compose a few thoughts into passable english on paper would amount to almost a miracle for me, but then again droughts are liable to break any moment so lets keep cheerful and hopeful in the circumstances.32

Yet despite this reluctance to put herself forward, Effie's participation in the programs of both summer and winter school contributed significantly to their success.33 Dorothy Dugdale, an Adelaide Bahá'í who on one occasion shared a room with Effie at summer school, later recorded:

Effie was not a born talker and it was some time before I could get her to tell me about her life at Haifa, where she ran the pilgrim house with the help of a charming little Japanese gentleman named Fujita. At the outbreak of the war the Guardian had sent them both home for safety, but they neither of them readily wanted to leave. Effie told me about her travels through Persia, taking photos of all the Bahá'í places for the "Dawnbreakers" which was being published then.34

If Effie did not regard herself as a speaker, she was even less inclined to speak at random about the personal life of Shoghi Effendi and other members of the Holy Family. As hostess of the pilgrim hostel Effie no doubt became familiar with the details of daily life, but never allowed curiousity about such matters on the part of the Australian Bahá'ís to cloud her understanding of what was important to know about the Holy Land, and the Holy Shrines, and what were merely incidental matters.

The War Years and After

The outbreak of war brought restrictions on travel in Australia, but little threat from bombing, such as the European Bahá'ís faced. Although Effie had little correspondence with the many friends she had made while living in Haifa, she did have occasional contact through letters, or visits to Melbourne. Nellie French had passed through Melbourne in September 1937;35 Mrs Slade had written to her in Goldsborough in November 1945; Fujita, who had returned to Japan in 1938, sent her newsclippings in 1948 about the progress of the Japanese Bahá'í community. Corrine True wrote to Effie in 1941 to enquire after her, and to ask if there was any news of Fujita, whom Shoghi Effendi had instructed to return to Japan. "It is so long since I have had any direct word from you", Corrine commenced, "but I am thinking of you so many times and all the lovely kindnesses you bestowed upon me and Edna and Katherine while we were visiting in the Holy Land."

Despite the government's restrictions on inter-state travel in the war years, Effie obtained a permit to attend the National Convention in Sydney in 1944. This was an important year for the Bahá'í World, since it marked the hundredth year of the declaration of the Bab, and Shoghi Effendi had instructed all communities to hold dinners in celebration of the cententary. In addition, he had extended financial assistance to the Australian Bahá'ís to acquire a property in Sydney to serve as the Headquarters of the National Assembly. The two-storey home thus acquired, at 2 Lang Road Paddington, in which the 1944 convention and centenary celebrations were held, were later to become Effie's final and happiest home.

Having attended Convention, Effie wrote to thank the National Assembly for enabling her to be present, and commented on the progress of the Australian Bahá'í community. It now had a "permanent nucleus", she wrote, from which the "great truths revealed by Bahá'u'lláh" could be promulgated. The task for the individual was "to become happy and contented striving to become selfless, and in the greatest love and harmony co-operate with others". It was only with a "oneness of will" would the Bahá'í community prosper. The relationship of co-workers to each other was similar to the pieces of an orange, for "in a perfect orange each section lies in its correct place", just as "each member must be in his or her right place and work in love and harmony with fellow co-workers". "There must be a head to everything", she continued, "but the head cannot stand alone. True harmony and unity is attained when the head and members of the body work together. The need of today is the formulating of the true spirit of consultation and of steady co-operation amongst the believers of this wonderful Revelation for this Day...". She included herself as one of Shoghi Effendi's "loyal and conscientious workers", who needed to prove to him that they were ready to do their part "to carry out to the best of our ability his instructions, wise counsels, and good advice, to establish on a sound basis the administrative affairs of the Bahá'í Faith thus assuring its steady progress in our land."36

The efforts of many Bahá'ís to aid the Melbourne community continued. Maysie Almond moved from Adelaide to reside at the Bahá'í centre being rented at 88 Collins Street.37 Early in 1945 Effie was living in the Melbourne suburb of Canterbury. Clara Dunn visited Melbourne, staying first with Mrs Wheeler then with Mrs Culbert. Ruby Beaver came to Melbourne from Sydney on holidays. By March 1945 Eleanor Wheeler and Maysie Almond reported to secretary of the National Assembly Dulcie Dive that the former "trouble" in Melbourne was being replaced by a sense of love and unity.38

Effie continued to spend alternate periods living in Sydney and Goldsborough. She lived with friends in Sydney for a few months toward the end of 1947,39 and in 1948 resided for a time at Lang road. A talk she gave to the Bahá'í youth in Sydney in January, the National Youth Committee reported in their newsletter, was of such interest to them that a second meeting was arranged in April so that she could continue her account.4 0 She spoke at 1948 convention about the world centre, before returning to Goldsborough in June.41 She lived with Charlotte Moffitt in Mona Rd, Darling Point, Sydney, from mid 1949 until her good friend's death late in 1950. The obituary Effie penned for Charlotte provides a clear statement of the qualities she admired in her friend, and suggets also the qualities she felt were important to any spiritually-oriented life:

November 21st 1950 marked the peaceful passing of one of the early, and best beloved Bahá'ís of Australia, Charlotte Moffitt. The Sydney Community with which she was associated for some years, has lost one of its most loyal, staunch, and generous adherents. Always ready to render any service which would promote the spreading of the Bahá'í Faith; she gave freely of her time and energy, meeting, welcoming, and entertaining Bahá'í visitors, helping those in need, visiting anc caring for the sick, and locating rooms for meetings. It was mainly due to her untiring efforts the premises for the establishment of the National Headquarters were located and purchased. Her personal charm, unbounded generosity, her bright and cheery nature endeared her to all hearts. She will ever linger in our memory, as one who exemplified that this is "the day of deeds, not words". Her life was so full of live and selflessness, that her power of attraction was felt by all who cam ein contact with her. She was a sincere and devoted Bahá'í, and we are told that "the rays of those spirits the sincere, are the cause of the development of the people". From this beautiful soul "will appear the traces of God".42

When in Goldsborough Effie was one of only four isolated Bahá'ís in the Victorian countryside, the others being Una Colins at Talfains; Mr Keipert; and Mr Alf Jensen at Laverton. The few Bahá'ís in Melbourne included Irene Cover and her son Ron Cover, Emily and Cyril Easey, Charlotte Moffitt (staying for a while before returning to Sydney), Daphne and Robert Reid, and Emily Wheeler. Hilda Brooks visited Melbourne from Adelaide to assist Mrs Collins search for a new Bahá'í room, but was unable to find any suitable. Charlotte Moffitt moved from Sydney to reside in Queens St, Albert Park late in 1945. After two decades of struggle, a Local Spiritual Assembly was re-formed in Melbourne at Ridvan 1948. The community now included Mrs Adams, Mr and Mrs Bennett, Irene and Ron Cover, Emily and Cyril Easey, Vi Hoehnke, Mr H. Martin, Madame Holden-Graham, and Eleanor Wheeler.

Effie continued to support teaching activities in Melbourne throughout the 1950s. The highlight of this period being a visit in 1953 Hand of the Cause Mr. A. A. Furutan, and his translator, and later Hand of the Cause, A.Q. Faizi. Effie had met Mr Furutan in Persia in 1930, and Rose Maxwell, who travelled from Adelaide with her husband Jim to assist Effie in Melbourne, recalled 'getting Dr Furutan and Mr Faizi on the train to Ballarat and we were all laughing so much people began staring at us, oh we had wonderful days...43

Muriel and John Handley, who moved as Bahá'í pioneers to Ballarat in 1957, became Effie's closest Bahá'í neighbours. Effie gave Murial a silk scarf from Yazd, which had been given her by the Greatest Holy Leaf. This Murial later presented to the National Archive.44 Of these years Murial later recalled:

Effie Baker lived about 70 miles distant in her dear little home in Goldsborough, and she had a cousin living in Ballarat not far from us with whom she used to visit sometimes. These were great times for John and me because she also often spent a few days with us before she returned to her home. Listening to Effie's stories of her family, and especially of her years in Haifa and Persia were very stimulating. At times we did the visiting to Goldsborough. We were most grateful for these uplifting times with Effie.45

National Committee work

In the late 1940s Effie became involved in more activities at the request of the National Assembly. In September 1948 the National Assembly decided to establish an archive, and asked Effie to help.46 She felt there must be someone more capable should do the job, and did not wish for the Assembly to "waste" its money on her travel expenses in order to set up the archive at the Hazirat'ul-Quds in Sydney. But when the National Assembly insisted, Effie agreed, and suggested she commence work on the Archive following the 1949 National Convention. Years earlier, Effie had donated to the National Assembly's archives photos and manuscripts, including a small specimen of `Abdu'l-Bahá's handwriting given her in March 1926 by Gowar Bayum, sister of `Abdu'l-Bahá's wife Munireh Khánum;47 and in 1941, a "moving film" of Haifa, and the original manuscript of Marjorie Morten's tribute to the Greatest Holy Leaf. A number of items Effie had given to her Australian friends were amongst those that found their way into the archives: a pen belonging to `Abdu'l-Bahá had been donated by Mrs Routh; another of the Master's pens given to Effie by Shoghi Effendi, which Effie had given to Mrs Moffett.

In 1949, following National Convention, she commenced the sorting of artifacts and correspondence into bundles which she wrapped in brown paper and labelled clearly, for conservation until a later date when the National Assembly's archival holdings could be properly housed. Effie continued to serve the National Assembly as "National Archivist" into the 1960s.

In 1950-51 Effie was also appointed to the National Assembly's Reference library committee, and was elected chairman, with Avilda Johansson as secretary, and Jane Routh as the third member. This involvement with books continued into the 1960s, when she served on the "Bahá'í Book Committee" with Bruce Saunders, John Walker, Hugh Walker, Bessie walker, Glad Pollard and Mrs V Read; Stanley Bolton jr, and Brian Whitehead.

Return to Sydney

It was now twenty-seven years since Effie's return from Haifa. For two decades and more she had lived in Goldsborough, travelling several times each year to be with family members or at the invitation of Bahá'í communities. In the closing years of her life Effie lived once more in the heart of the Sydney Bahá'í community, at the National Hazirat'ul-Quds at 2 Lang Road Paddington. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s she had stayed at Lang Road for short periods; and in the early 1950s Clara Dunn, who resided in the small flat attached to the Hazirat'ul-Quds, had consulted Shoghi Effendi as to whether Effie could live with her. The Guardian had, at that time, said that the matter was one for Clara to work out in consultation with the National Assembly.4 8 In the m

In the months after the passing of Clara Dunn, in November 1960, the National Assembly recalled once more Shoghi Effendi's letter advising it to take the best possible care of Effie Baker. Thus, the National Assembly invited Effie to reside, should she wish, in the flat which had formerly been occupied by Clara Dunn. Although reluctant to leave a home which had been associated with the Baker family for nearly one-hundred years, Effie was pleased to sell it to her good friend Stella Childs, who had become a Bahá'í in South Australia in the 1940s. In 1963 Effie accepted the National Assembly's invitation and moved permanently to Sydney.

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