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She was born Nancy Bannatyne Adams, in Nausori, Fiji on 13th September 1910. The family probably lived near-by in Nasinu, as that was the what they named their house when they moved to Sydney from Fiji in 1924.
They settled in Chatswood on Sydney’s north shore, and Nancy soon became a pupil of the Church of England Girls’ School Chatswood. She performed well at school, won prizes in two state-wide essay competitions, and received an honourable mention in the Alliance Francais oral exams in 1925.
When she left the school at the end of 1928, she was one of only two pupils from the school who completed their matriculation that year.
In her reference her headmistress wrote: “[Nancy] has always been a diligent and reliable student, and has also taken part in school activities outside the Class room, being Tennis Captain for 1927-28, and a reliable Prefect during her last year at school.”
With this endorsement to back her up, she applied for a job as Museum Assistant at the Australian Museum and began her employment on 4th June, 1929. Her starting salary was £78 per annum.
She and Miss S. Stark started on the same day. When Miss Stark resigned on 6th February 1930, Nancy and Joyce Allan were the only female scientific staff members employed by the Museum, until Elsie Bramell joined them in 1933.
Nancy was employed as a General Assistant in the Entomological Department, and began having her articles published in the Australian Museum Magazine in 1931. In spite of these articles and her completely satisfactory employment record, her designation didn’t change for more than 19 years, when she was promoted to the position of Museum Assistant on 23rd September 1948.
She became ill in the early 1950s and was diagnosed with colon cancer. She underwent an operation in early 1954 but it was too late; the cancer had already metastasised. Nancy died on 28th January, 1955.
Her manager wrote of her: “Miss Adams never complained, was always cheerful, and was regarded with affection by the Staff of the whole Museum. Her character might be described by the word "fine", which was her inevitable reply when asked how she felt.”