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In the rush to be rich, contemporary commentators warned that not everyone was suited to life on Victoria’s goldfields. Women unfamiliar with household labour or exertion were cautioned to remain at ‘home’. This article explores the genteel women who migrated to Victoria during the first two decades of the gold rush, and how they negotiated the British ideal of genteel leisure against the demands for domestic labour in the colony. In particular, it interrogates the often-mundane plain sewing practices necessary to make a new home alongside the push for a colonial genteel industriousness, demonstrating how women manipulated standards of living through everyday material practices.


School of Arts

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Journal Article

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