When: Friday, 10 November 2023 - 10.00 am - 11.30 am
Who Rocked the Cradle? Women of the Diggings
Presenter: Dr Dorothy Wickham
The fight was for the right to vote; for equality; as well as for basic human rights. How women strove to exercise and exert their independent attitudes and ideas, and how they lived their lives, within such a restrictive male-controlled patriarchal society, has been essentially “hidden”.
Dot Wickham will examine how women challenged such gendered power structures. She will discuss women of the Victorian Gold Fields, from many different circumstances and places, who not only overcame obstacles but who were innovative and resourceful. In 1854 for example, Clara Seekamp took over the editorship of the Ballarat Times newspaper, when her husband Henry was arrested and thrown into gaol. Clara’s editorials were described by the Argus as outspoken, startling in tone, and liberal and energetic in their use of words such as ‘sedition’, ‘liberty’ and ‘oppression’. Fanny Finch of Castlemaine, a striking figure with her dark skin, black hair adorned in artificial flowers, and bright blue silk dress in 1856 saw a loophole in the ballot system and voted in local elections. In 1867 a group of 26 Ballarat matrons wrote to the government and established a female refuge for ‘fallen’ women (single mums), the first such institution on the Australian goldfields.
We may well ask ‘Who Rocked the Cradle?’
Our Speaker: Dorothy Wickham