Labour History

From Making Do to Making Home: Gender and Housewifery on the Victorian Goldfields

Labour History (2019), 117, (1), 1–22.

Abstract

Feminist historians have been strong advocates for the recognition of women’s domestic lives, yet housework remains an underexplored area of labour history. Scholars of material culture have explored individual aspects of domestic life on the goldfields, particularly needlework; however, the broader focus has remained on women’s activities outside the home. Although typically interpreted through narratives of masculine adventure, hardship and goldseeking, the goldfields were also domesticated landscapes. Both men and women consciously made attempts to create home, even when the concept of home was transitory. Commonly, the task of transforming an industrial landscape into a domestic one fell to women, who had been assigned the “natural” responsibility of household labour for centuries. The expectation was that women would attend to the daily labour-intensive work of creating and maintaining home.

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Details

Author details

Dernelley, Katrina