Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-rn2sj Total loading time: 0.463 Render date: 2022-08-14T03:58:34.062Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

A Woman's Work is Never Done? Exploring Housework in Interwar Queensland

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 February 2016

Get access

Extract

The woman who demands assistance from her husband in her home is failing in her part of the marriage bargain, and the husband who gives it is losing his prestige as head of the house.

— Letter from ‘Mother’ of New Farm, Courier-Mail, 6 February 1939, p 14

The letter from ‘Mother’ in the Brisbane suburb of New Farm endorsed the assumed and actual centrality of unpaid work within the home for most white women in Queensland — especially for wives — in the interwar years. It accepted a division of labour in which men were defined primarily as breadwinners; by contrast, and despite female participation in the formal economy, the major role for women was that of wife and mother. This allocation of responsibilities was a fundamental component of the gender segregation which characterised work and the Queensland economy in this period.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Notes

1 Frances, Raelene, ‘Shifting Barriers: Twentieth Century Women's Labour Patterns’, in Kay Saunders and Raymond Evans (eds), Gender Relations in Australia: Domination and Negotiation (Sydney: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992), 250–51.

Google Scholar

2 The Queensland Mothers’ Book, rev. ed. (Brisbane: Home Secretary's Department, Brisbane, 1931), 14.

3 Australian Woman's Mirror, 23 February 1926: 21.

4 Fifty-fourth report of the Secretary of Public Instruction for the year 1929, Queensland Parliamentary Papers, vol. 1, 1930, 141.

5 Census of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1921, vol. 1, 510–11 and 1933, vol. 2, 1122–23; Australian Women's Weekly, 4 June 1938: 21.

6 Annual reports of the Director, State Children Department for the years 1919–1939, Queensland Parliamentary Papers, 1920–1940.

7 Courier-Mail, 13 February 1939: 13.

8 Australian Women's Weekly, 10 June 1933: 7.

9 Census of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1921, vol. 2, Statistician's Report, 346. The Census material on average numbers of children included only married women who were ‘enumerated with their husbands’, thus excluding wives whose husbands were absent on the date of the Census and mothers who did not conform to this category. The ABC of Queensland Statistics and Queensland Year Books indicate that about 5 per cent of births in interwar Queensland were ex-nuptial.

10 Queensland Bank Officer, September 1920: 18, Courier-Mail, 13 February 1939: 13. This letter was part of the debate over whether husbands should assist with housework.

11 Cilento, Raphael, ‘Observations on the White Working Population of Queensland’, Part 1, Health, 4(1) (1926): 10.

Google Scholar

12 Cilento, ‘Observations’: 10.

13 Woman's Budget, 19 February 1921: 5.

14 Queensland Bank Officer, September 1920: 18.

15 Isbel, C.E., ‘Coorparoo Days Recalled’, Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, 9(4) (1972–73): 119.

Google Scholar

16 Probert, Belinda, Working Life: Arguments About Work in Australian Society (Ringwood: Penguin, 1990), 2.

Google Scholar

17 Council Letter (Journal of the QCWA), March 1931.

18 Woman's Budget, 14 May 1921, 5; North Queensland Guardian, 21 August 1937: 2.

19 Census of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1921, vol. 2, statistician's report, 355; and 1933, vol. 3, Statistician's Report, 84.

20 Australian Home Beautiful, 2 July 1928: 60.

21 Census of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1933, vol. 2, 1914–15.

22 Cilento, ‘Observations’: 11.

23 Courier-Mail, 13 February 1939: 13.

24 Census of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1921, vol. 1, 482; vol. 2, 1350–51, 1358–59; and 1933, vol. 2, 1114. These figures do not include persons who listed their usual occupation as domestic service but who were unemployed at the time of the Census.

25 Everylady's Journal, 1 December 1930: 489–90.

26 Johnston, W. Ross, A New Province? The Closer Settlement of Monto (Brisbane: Boolarong, 1982), 127.

Google Scholar

27 Everylady's Journal, 1 October 1926: 301.

28 Brydon, M.H., ‘Women's Life in North Queensland’, Health, 1(6) (1925): 167; Queensland Country Life, 19 September 1935: 6.

Google Scholar

29 Brydon, ‘Women's Life in North Queensland’: 167.

30 Census of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1933, vol. 3, Statistician's Report, 186, 200.

31 Cilento, ‘Observations’: 39.

32 Census of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1921, vol. 2, statistician's report, 285; Evidence presented to the Sugar Enquiry Board quoted in Council Letter, March 1931.

33 Council Letter, March 1931.

34 Game, Ann and Pringle, Rosemary, Gender at Work (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1983), 120; Duncan Ironmonger and Evelyn Sonius, ‘Household Productive Activities’, in Duncan Ironmonger (ed.), Households Work: Productive Activities, Women and Income in the Household Economy (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1989), 20.

Google Scholar

35 Cilento, ‘Observations’: 8. A skillion kitchen was a kitchen located in a lean-to or a structure separate from the house.

36 Cilento, ‘Observations’: 1013.

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

A Woman's Work is Never Done? Exploring Housework in Interwar Queensland
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

A Woman's Work is Never Done? Exploring Housework in Interwar Queensland
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

A Woman's Work is Never Done? Exploring Housework in Interwar Queensland
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *