Category Archives: Australian History

To our last man and our last shilling

I sincerely hope that international arbitration will avail before Europe is convulsed in the greatest war of any time. All, I am sure, will regret the critical position existing at the present time, and pray that a disastrous war may be averted. But should the worst happen after everything has been done that honour will permit, Australians will stand beside our own to help and defend her to our last man and our last shilling.
— Andrew Fisher

 

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Entente Cordiale – We’ll keep the flags a-flying boys, World War I postcard

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2018 Canberra and Region Heritage Festival

April, the month of remembrance is also the month of the Canberra and Region Heritage Festival.

My culture, my story is the theme for this year’s festival. Running from 14 April to 29 April 2018, it is a celebration of Aboriginal, European and natural heritage in and around Canberra — Australia’s nation’s capital. Read here if you would like to attend one of the many festival events or to find out more about the festival.

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Old Parliament House, Canberra

 

April, the month of remembrance

My mind is on the First World War this month. Anzac Day, will be commemorated this month. On this day (25 April) Australians and New Zealanders remember those who have served and died in war. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. This was the landing on Gallipoli, which happened 103 years ago, in April 1915.

 

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Postcard celebrating the end of World War I, 1919

March 2018, Roundup

The month of:

Women, International Women’s Day, Women’s History Month

Questions and Answers

10 Questions About Women’s History
Answers

Gold Stars

Helen Leonard
Women’s Electoral Lobby
Australian Women’s History Forum
Australian Women’s History Network

People

Fernand Braudel, Caitlin Davies, Emily Davison, Charles Dickens, Miles Franklin, Clara Lemlich, Helen Leonard, Gerda Lerner, Muriel Matters, Emmeline Pankhurst, Bessie Rischbieth, Joan Wallach Scott, E.P. Thompson, Robert Wainwright, Alfred North Whitehead, Mary Wollstonecraft, Clare Wright

Places

Broken Hill, California, Copenhagen, London, New York

Events

1902: Australia grants women the right to vote and stand for election.
1908: Protest by Muriel Matters at the House of Commons; New York garment worker’s strike.
1909: First Women’s Day; Uprising of the 20,000 New York shirtwaist worker’s strike; Muriel Matters flies across London dropping Votes for Women handbills.
1911: Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.
1913: Emily Davison’s death at the Epsom Derby; Bessie Rischbieth witnesses the Suffragette movement.
1918: Representation of the People Act passed.
1928: Equal Franchise Act passed.
1962: Indigenous Australian women and men granted national voting rights.

Organisations

Australian Women’s History Network
British Library
eScholarship Research Centre
Muriel Matters Society Inc
National Archives (UK)
National Centre of Biography
National Foundation for Australian Women
Parliament (UK)
School of Historical and Philosophical Studies
State Library of Victoria

Resources

Australian Dictionary of Biography
Australian women at war
Australian women’s history network resources
Australian Women’s Register
Biography of Clara Lemlich
Birth of a Nation? by Clare Wright
Canberra women in World War I
Encyclopedia history of women and leadership in twentieth-century Australia
Gender history in Australasia readings
Indigenous Australia
Labour Australia
Lilith: A Feminist History Journal
Muriel Matters TV movie
National History Challenge
Obituaries Australia
People Australia
Pictures (State Library of Victoria)
She’s Game: Women Making Australian Sporting History
Suffrage 100, The National Archives, UK
Suffragette movie
UN Timeline
Troves Digitised Newspapers
VIDA: Blog of the Australian Women’s History Network
Votes for Women, British Library
Women and the Vote, UK Parliament
Women’s Archives Project
Women Australia

Books

Bad Girls : A History of Rebels and Renegades by Caitlin Davies
Miss Muriel Matters : The fearless suffragist who fought for equality by Robert Wainwright

Quotes

I am afflicted with the power of thought, which is a heavy curse. The less a person thinks and inquires regarding the why and the wherefore and the justice of things, when dragging along through life, the happier it is for him, and doubly, trebly so, for her
— Miles Franklin

The deepest definition of youth is life as yet untouched by tragedy.
— Alfred North Whitehead

Women ought to have representatives, instead of being arbitrarily governed without any direct share allowed them in the deliberations of government.
— Mary Wollstonecraft

Happiness, whether in business or private life, leaves very little trace in history.
— Fernand Braudel

Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history.
— Joan Wallach Scott

Everything that explains the world has in fact explained a world that does not exist, a world in which men are at the centre of the human enterprise and women are at the margin ‘helping’ them. Such a world does not exist — never has.
— Gerda Lerner

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
― Charles Dickens

I am seeking to rescue the poor stockinger, the Luddite cropper, the “obsolete” hand-loom weaver, the “utopian” artisan, and even the deluded follower of Joanna Southcott, from the enormous condescension of posterity. Their crafts and traditions may have been dying. Their hostility to the new industrialism may have been backward-looking. Their communitarian ideals may have been fantasies. Their insurrectionary conspiracies may have been foolhardy. But they lived through these times of acute social disturbance, and we did not. Their aspirations were valid in terms of their own experience; and if they were casualties of history, they remain, condemned in their own lives, as casualties. ― E.P. Thompson

Answers to 10 Questions about Women’s History

Answers

Here are the answers to 10 Questions About Women’s History:.

  1. What does the acronym WRANS stand for? Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service
  2. How many children did Queen Victoria have? Nine
  3. The 2017 Battle of the Sexes movie is based on the 1973 tennis match between which two tennis players? Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs
  4. Which country had the first democratically elected female president? Iceland
  5. What were the colours of the suffragette movement? Purple, white and green
  6. In which city was the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory fire? New York
  7. What was the first country in the world to grant national voting rights to women? New Zealand
  8. In what decade did the Anglican Church of Australia approve legislation allowing for women to be ordained into the priesthood? 1990’s
  9. In 1984 Joan Benoit became the first gold medallist in which Olympic event? Women’s marathon
  10. In what year were Australian indigenous women (and men) granted national voting rights? 1962

For future reference you can find answers here as well.

Easy or difficult? Any surprises?

10 Questions About Women’s History

To end Women’s History Month I thought it might be fun to have a Women’s History quiz. Good luck with these! Answers to come.

  1. What does the acronym WRANS stand for?
  2. How many children did Queen Victoria have?
  3. The 2017 Battle of the Sexes movie is based on the 1973 tennis match between which two tennis players?
  4. Which country had the first democratically elected female president?
  5. What were the colours of the suffragette movement?
  6. In which city was the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory fire?
  7. What was the first country to grant national voting rights to women?
  8. In what decade did the Anglican Church of Australia approve legislation allowing for women to be ordained into the priesthood?
  9. In 1984 Joan Benoit became the first gold medallist in which Olympic event?
  10. In what year were Australian indigenous women (and men) granted national voting rights?

 

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Bible study group at a Melbourne Church of England, about 1915 to 1918

Women’s history, suffragettes near and far

Centenary of the Representation of the People Act

This year is a special year in Women’s history. The 6 February 2018 was the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, the change in the law that gave some women in the United Kingdom (UK) the right to vote for the first time.

The Representation of the People Act gave the vote to women over 30 who owned property or were graduates voting in a university constituency. It also gave the vote to more men — their voting age was lowered to 21 and the property qualification was abolished. Women would get the same voting rights as men, ten years later in 1928 with the passage of the The Equal Franchise Act.

British women’s right to vote came after a bitter struggle between activists and authorities. The suffragette movement ran a radical and militant campaign that included property damage, hunger striking and the death of Emily Davison at the 1913 Epsom Derby. Authorities responded with surveillance, imprisonment and force-feeding. The film Suffragette is worth watching if you want to start understanding the suffragette cause.

If  you are interested in finding out more here are some resources:

Women’s history at the National Library of Australia

In 1902 Australia became the first country in the world to give most women the right to vote and the right to stand for election to a national parliament. Indigenous women and men would not be provided with national voting rights until 1962.

Having secured the right to vote in Australia for most women, Australian female activists used their success to support women in the UK and the United States to get the right to vote. If you want to know more about this a really interesting essay to read is Birth of a Nation? by Clare Wright.

Bessie Rischbieth was one of these women. In London, in 1913, during the height of the suffragette movement, she found their cause deeply inspiring. This would drive her own campaigns for women’s rights in Australia. Bessie also built up a large collection of suffragette items that were bequeathed to the National Library of Australia (NLA). Deeds Not Words is an NLA exhibition based on Bessie’s collection. It opened on the 6 February and ends on the 19 August 2018. I am really looking forward to seeing this.

Muriel Matters

Muriel Matters was an Australian woman who joined the suffragette cause in a big way. Her commitment included in 1908 chaining herself to an iron grille in the ladies’ gallery of the House of Commons, which resulted in a month’s imprisonment in Holloway Prison; and in 1909 flying over London in an airship inscribed ‘Votes for Women’ and scattering handbills over the city.

Here are some resources about Muriel Matters if you want to know more:

If you are interested in the suffragette movement I hope this information helps you do some further exploring. I think there are some really fascinating stories to discover here.

 

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Muriel Matters in prison dress