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Perry's knowledge of mid-19th century Ireland is extensive and she has spent years mining documents from all over Ireland on the workhouses and the single girls who left for Australia during the Famine years of 1848-1850.
Perry came to history through her own genealogy in the late 1970s. She has served on the committees of many organisations such as the Community Advisory Group at State Records NSW, SAG for almost 20 years, RAHS, History Council of NSW, Australian Catholic Historical Society, Great Irish Famine Commemoration Committee, Irish Studies Association of Australia and New Zealand and the Biographical Database of Australia.
Publications include her PhD published by Irish Academic Press as Free Passage: the reunion of Irish Convicts and their families in Australia 1788-1852, second edition as Free Passage: Convict Family REunion in Australia 1788-1852, Orphan Girls and Remember and Commemoration the Great Famine and Emigration to Australia with Richard Reid for Unlock The Past; several titles with Liz Rushen on single female immigration in the 1830s including Quarantined: the 1837 'Lady Macnaghten' immigrants, Merchant's Women and Fair Game. In 2020 with Jeff Kildea and Richard Reid she wrote To Foster and Irish Spirit: Irish National Association of Australia.
She is a Director of Anchor Books Australia. In 2021 she was awarded the Order of Australia for significant service to history preservation and genealogical organisations.