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Penny Dadswell Zylstra was born in Sydney, descended from the First Fleet convicts. Professionally trained as a General Nurse, Penny has numerous interests and skills. She has worked in amputee rehabilitation, assisted with surgeries, illustrated medical textbooks and other publications, including an Encyclopaedia of Asian Crafts for UNESCO and the Field Guide for doctors in war zones for the World Health Organisation. She also recorded books on tape for visually impaired people.
In various nursing roles, she assisted doctors and local communities in the treatment of tropical infections, rehabilitation after accidents and running Outpatient clinics in Papua New Guinea, Nigeria, Zambia, Ghana, Kenya, India, Indonesia and the Caroline Islands. Aside of her duties she relished studying different cultures, customs, artefacts and people. She is an enthusiastic photographer and traveller. She has visited all corners of the globe, numerous countries, big and small, including Guatemala, Nauru, Sri Lanka, The Philippines, Japan and many others.
Penny’s interest in anthropology dates to her childhood when her family frequently hosted overseas visitors, valued travels and nurtured inquisitive interest in the customs of other people and cultures. Now she follows these interests, combining them with extensive readings, travelling, photography and involvement in care for the anthropology collections at the Australian Museum.
In the 1980s Penny worked as a volunteer in the Malacology Department of the Australian Museum, illustrating molluscs, among other duties. Since 2001 she works, on a voluntary basis and occasional small contracts, for the Anthropology Collections. Penny’s contribution to our small team is highly valued and her contribution to organising records and proofreading are considered vital. She helped with editing numerous publications, articles, reports and, more recently, anthropology stories that appear on the Australian Museum Website.