Goldfields: Women & Children

By Marven

Introduction

By 1854 there were 4023 women and 12660 men on the goldfields. Most would stay at home with their children or do chores. Some women would go and dig in the goldfields and others were shopkeepers. Out of all the women there, 95% were married and 5% were single. There were 160000 women among the 600000 in all the goldfields of Australia.

Education

Teachers in goldfield schools were usually young and all had different ways of teaching. Many teachers were strict and others could not keep control. Most children were unable to be educated because their parents were from non-english countries and there were no schools. Some parents didnt even bother sending their children to school. Some children had to move schools. Some parents did not bother to send their children to school.

Women and Children's Health on the Goldfields

Most women on the goldfields were unhelathy because of poor living conditions. Women gave birth in the goldfields and were ususally assisted by average women. Some women died giving birth because they were not assisted by people with trained medical qualifications. The women died from epidemics of illnesses such as diptheria, whooping cough, measles, typhoid and scarlet fever and measles. Children also died from these illnesses. Lots of children died because of a weak immune system. More than 200 children are buried at the Pennyweight Flats Children's Cemetery in Castlemaine. These children died because of poor sanitation and hygeine.

Responsibities of Women on the Goldfields

At first on the goldields, only men were digging and working. Later on, women and children joined the men on the goldfields. A few women were gold miners, shopkeepers and some women sung and entertained men. Most women stayed at home with their children. Most women had a scarce amount of money to live on. Women based at the tent usually done duties of ironing,cooking, and washing. They made bread, butter, jam, soap and clothes for the children and men.