Goldfields: Women & Children

By Daniel

Introduction

A majority of the people visiting the goldfields would be men. They would leave their families just for the riches and wealth. Not many women would have the same purpose of journeying to goldfields. Women would travel with their children to the fields just to accompany their husbands. Between 1851 and 1860, more than 160,000 women had come to the goldfields. 95% of these women were married, and a 5% were single. The single were supposed to be miners/panners. Women would usually be changing. At the start, most women did not depart to the goldfields, but by the year 1854, the recording of capacity was 4023 women but a substantial total amount of population for men at 12660!

Education

Usually during the gold rush, parent would move different places, so children would have shift schools every move. This was because they had to find richer goldfields. Schooling became erratic for these children. The subjection to the gold rush had an impact, and teachers from 14 years old would work, and the age goes up to unqualified educators. It took extended amounts of time before schools were built near goldfields.


Children however, would have to jump right into the routine of shifting subjects because of the rotation of finding a new goldfield. Most of the time children would forget what they had learned in that class' subject. It would take a while to continue their lessons on that previous subject, so that's why they forget. Regularly, after leaving a school and the subject, the subject they were learning would change to another one, which is usual.


Teachers sometimes would be a situation, because some teachers would not turn up. This means they would have to wait for the teachers. Parents could not educate their kids due to their language or educated barriers, or their duties.

Roles and Responsibilities of Women in the Goldfields

During the days of the Australian gold rushes, women had to do regular tasks lonesome, which was hard life for them but was better than nothing. They would usually do washing, ironing and cooking. They would make different neccessities like clothing, bread, pastes, and soaps. Due to heavy mining, the water would be muddied, which means the clean fresh water would be lacked. Also, fresh vegetables and fruit was also lacked.


Assistance was produced when a woman would give birth on the goldfields. There was a scarce variety of medical help in events of illnesses or to help the women in birth times. Majority of birthgivers had died due to epidemics of illnesses: diptheria, whooping cough, measles, typhoid and scarlet fever that swept through goldfields. Also, men and children had died due to the same cautions.


Many women had continued to travel to the goldfields because of them wanting to visit their husbands, brothers or friends. They would have to serve many purposes just for the comfort of the males. Usually, they would have animals to be used as livestock. They also had major jobs, such as storekeepers, prostitutes, dancers and actresses. They would also order children to other minor jobs or chores, like carrying wood, surveilling the housing, cared for the animals and fossicked around the 'tailings' or left over gravel and sand.

Women and children's health

Many women had to live a difficult life on the goldfields. When they had to give birth, a more possible chance of birth failure would occur. This could also cause death to the 'mother' because of illnesses. Either that, or women had died due to sicknesses and stress from a hard life. The sicknesses would involve illnesses, epidemics, diptheria, whooping cough, measles, typhoid, scarlet fever and ect. Their life would be extremely cramped and got stressful most of the time. Their jobs were hefty because children were usually uncapable of the jobs women would do. Also, men could not do this because they mostly spent their time mining, digging or panning. Although, children would have to do minor jobs, like cleaning the houses, small cooking and buy a few things, if they had to..


Children had a similar fate to women. Medical assistance was not at its best, and it wasn't that great, so there was no solution or cure for infections and sicknesses. Kids would have to bath in unclean water, due to the lacking of fresh water. They would also have to swallow muddy water just for thirst quenching. Not much fresh food was produced because farms had been lacked in the area. People would bring carts of food and fresh water because it wasn't produced in the region. The majority of deaths on the goldfields came from children because the protection wasn't that great. A cemetery in Castlemaine was renamed 'Pennyweight Flats Children's Cemetery' due to the high amount of junior deaths. There was extremely poor sanitation, and another pack of illnesses were brought, which were cholera and dysentery.