Producer: Michael Schubert
Old Husbands’ Tales : Businesswomen in Sydney 1850-1950
Using modern digital archives to look back into our colonial history, Catherine Bishop found that women in early Australia were far more than merely ‘colonial helpmeets’ supporting their settler husbands. Many colonial women in both Australia and New Zealand were engaged in earning a living. Often this involved starting a small business – as a dressmaker or publican, grocer or theatrical entrepreneur – or inheriting an enterprise from a dead husband – such as an ironmongery, butcher’s shop or jewellery business.
Dr Catherine Bishop is a historian who researches Australian, New Zealand and international history, with a particular focus on women. She received a PhD from the Australian National University in 2012 and is now a Kathleen Fitzpatrick Junior Research Fellow at the University of Sydney.
She has published a number of articles and her first book Minding Her Own Business: Colonial Businesswomen in Sydney was published in October 2015. This book was awarded the 2016 Ashurst Business Literature Prize. She has contributed to the Dictionary of Sydney. She was the Australian Religious History Fellow at the State Library of New South Wales in 2016. She was also the recipient of a New Zealand History Trust Award and won the Australian Women’s History Network Mary Bennett prize.
Her research interests include businesswomen in New Zealand and Australia, female missionaries, the International Federation of Business and Professional Women and the Daily Mail and Herald Tribune World Youth Forums of the post World War Two era. She is also interested in heritage, particularly in the way women’s history has been memorialised.
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Inside History magazine interview
HELP WITH CATHERINE’S RESEARCH
Catherine is looking for people with knowledge of women in business in Australia from 1880-1980.
Trove is a collaboration between the National Library, Australia’s State and Territory libraries and hundreds of cultural and research institutions around Australia, working together to create a legacy of Australia’s knowledge for now and into the future.
The title was inspired by an article by Leonore Davidoff entitled Regarding Some Old Husbands’ Tales: Public and Private in Feminist History [in Worlds Between: Historical Perspectives on Gender and Class, Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1995].