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"a sense of conscious difference"

From Fresh evidence, new witnesses: finding women's history by Margaret Allen, Mary Hutchison, Alison Mackinnon (Adelaide, Government Printer, 1989).

"It has been common for historians to talk of separate spheres—of the public world of work for men and the private world of the home for women. Close examination of the material aspects of women's lives reveals this distinction often masked the work women carried out both outside the home and within it. Many women earned a livelihood by taking in lodgers, for example, but this type of activitiy can easily be overlooked as work as it takes place within the home. The relegation of women to the 'private' sphere is a process which needs to be examined very closely. By unravelling that process we can begin to understand how the sexual division of labour has been constructed, maintained and challenged."

. . . .

"Although our documents are mainly from South Australia, our themes are widely applicable within Australia. Child rearing, caring for the sick and milking the cows were no doubt similar in all Australian colonies. Yet South Australia was also distinctive. Its planned colonization, its lack of convicts and its large number of non-conformist settlers all helped to give it a sense of conscious difference. For many, South Australia was a social laboratory. Women such as Catherine Helen Spence and Mary Lee entered wholeheartedly into the spirit of social and political change ensuring that women would take their place as useful citizens."


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