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Home sweet home : women and domesticity in rural Australia 1930-1970

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posted on 2023-05-27, 13:26 authored by Wood, KG
The topic which I have chosen to research - 'Women and Domesticity' focusing on the sub-culture of rural women in Australia from the beginning of the 1930s to the end of the 1960s - is based around the women of a small mining town, Cornwall, which is located on the Mount Nicholas Range in the Fingal Valley on the East Coast of Tasmania. I spent my formative childhood years amongst this particular community, many of whom were relatives. Because this particular community no longer exists, I needed to look at other women's groups and the history of rural women and domesticity in Australia pertinent to my women and the ideologies they had. I have sought to address these issues through both oral histories and the visual images giving emphasis to those issues which were distinctive of the lives of rural women. Areas which I have chosen to research are:ideologies of domesticity, women and food, social networks amongst women, productive activities, fashion and household technology. I chose this period in time (1930s to the 1960s) as the oral histories I have conducted recall Australian social history from about this time onwards and also it was the period when my Grandmother married, was a miner's wife and then a shop keeper on Cornwall. Another factor taken into consideration when choosing to research this period was the fact that Australian Historians of this time had tended to focus on the lives of Australian men with women's history sadly neglected. I found when looking at the works of other academics who had undertaken research into the history of Australian women such as Anne Summers' 'Damned Whores and God's Police', Kerreen Reigers' 'Family Economy' and Kay Saunders' and Raymond Evans' 'Gender Relations in Australia - Domination and Negotiation', to name a few, that they had tended to concern themselves mainly with urban women and their lives basing their findings on the quantitative analysis of data rather than employing the ethnographic 'qualitative text analysis' method which I adopted. I found using this method of research that I was able to obtain a more personal insight into the lives of the women. Also from an archival' point of view, these oral histories become tangible records of Australian social history. This material provided the basis for my visual images which present my understanding, of the daily lives of the women from my childhood, the oral histories being used as a catalyst for my own memories of this period. I concluded from my research that rural women (especially those living in mining towns) had tight-knit communities in which traditional conceptions of women's roles as being primarily in the home were strongly entrenched. While during this era (1930s - 1960s) there were marked changes in the roles, values and expectations of city women, in the country, things changed much more slowly. While from the perspective of urban dwellers, these closely bonded communities probably appear claustrophobic, the country women themselves in the main did not feel this way as they knew no other way of life. It is this that I seek to convey in my prints.

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Copyright 1997 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (MFA)--University of Tasmania, 1997. Includes bibliographical references

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