University of Tasmania
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Our children the orphans

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posted on 2023-05-27, 07:11 authored by Dean, S
The history of the Orphan Schools in Hobart in the 1800s could be written in one of two ways. Either it was an integral part of the 'Benevolent Empire' providing for children in need, or it was an example of a total institution; the institutionalisation of the body, mind and spirits of non-productive members of society contained and trained to be useful members of the emergent colonial community. Or it may have been a complex blend of the two. Benevolent concern demanded the establishment of an orphan school. Assessments of it have been mixed. In 1852 John West wrote: But the establishment of the King's Orphan School (1828) was successful. It was chiefly designed for the numerous children whose parents had deserted, or who were dead. It was placed under the guidance of a committee, and afforded protection to many children who must have sunk under the influence of a vicious example. In this island, the fatherless have found mercy. In the absence of natural ties, the settlers have often displayed a parental tenderness in education the children of the I outcast and the stranger. His comments exemplify the ideology of the time: firstly, that orphan schools were to give protection to orphaned and destitute children; secondly that they provided a way of saving the children from the bad example set by their parents; and thirdly that the settlers, led by the Governor, were willing and able to provide a surrogate 'parental tenderness' in protecting and educating orphaned children.


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