Sarah's life

[Episode 21 | 1808 : Sarah]

Sarah is dropped off at her new place of employment but makes a poor first impression on her new employer, Mrs Owen. While doing her chores she meets Mrs Owen's sickly daughter Alice.


History

The Australian curriculum: History

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The Australian Curriculum: History aims to ensure that students develop: 

  • interest in, and enjoyment of, historical study for lifelong learning and work, including their capacity and willingness to be informed and active citizens 
  • knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the past and the forces that shape societies, including Australian society 
  • understanding and use of historical concepts, such as evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy, significance and contestability 
  • capacity to undertake historical inquiry, including skills in the analysis and use of sources, and in explanation and communication.

History activities [2]

Activity 1: Female factories
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Subtheme(s): Gender roles and stereotypes; Historical events; Social order and education

Women were among the convicts sent to Australia during the transportation period. Many had been committed for petty theft from their employers in England, and they typically received sentences of 7 or 14 years. Female convicts arriving in the penal colony were assigned as domestic servants to free settlers or sent to female factories. There, women were separated into three classes according to their crime: a punishment class, whose members served periods in solitary cells; a crime class, incarcerated within the prison; and a hiring class, waiting to be appointed to service on local properties.

Discover
  • As a class, research the role of female factories within the transportation system. Begin research by asking students what they already know about female factories and the transportation of women convicts. Record all facts, data and information already known and ask students to enter these in the K column of the KWHL chart in the Student Activity Sheet H21.1 Female factories.
  • Ask students what they would like to learn about female factories. Record all questions, concerns, uncertainties and opinions in question form, and ask students to enter these in the W column of the KWHL chart in the Student Activity Sheet H21.1 Female factories.
  • Ask students to generate ideas about the possible sources of information they might find to answer these questions. Record these and ask students to enter them in the H column of the KWHL chart in the Student Activity Sheet H21.1 Female factories.
  • Allow students, working in pairs or individually, to research the questions asked by the class. Students should record the information they find and the sources they use. Students can conduct research in the school or local library, or online. As a starting point, teachers can refer to the resources listed below:
  1. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 'Cascades Female Factory', http://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/places/national/cascade-female-factory/information.html
  2. Female Convicts Research Group (Tasmania), http://www.femaleconvicts.org.au/
  3. Historic Houses Trust, 'Why were Convicts Transported to Australia?', http://www.hht.net.au/discover/highlights/kids_fact_sheets/why_were_convicts_transported_to_australia
  4. National Archives of Australia, 'Women Transported: Myth and Reality', http://www.naa.gov.au/whats-on/audio/women-transported.aspx 
  5. Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service, 'Ross Female Factory: Archaeology', http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=7566 
  • Ask students to spend some time reflecting on what they have learned during the course of their research, and find out whether any questions remain unanswered. Their reflections should be recorded in the L column of the KWHL chart in the Student Activity Sheet H21.1 Female factories.

Reflect
  • Ask students to design a brochure or website which could be used as information for a guided tour of a female factory. This should contain historical information, illustrations/images, a map of the facility, contact details and testimonials, among other features.

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Student Activity Sheet H21.1 Female factories


Activity 2: Assigned labour
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Subtheme(s): Character; Chores, business and employment; Social order and education

Many female convicts escaped the hard life in the female factories as assigned domestic servants within the households of free settlers. Sarah in Episode 21 of My Place has found herself in such a position. The work that assigned convicts carried out depended on the needs of their master or mistress. Some cleared land, removed tree stumps and constructed buildings, while others looked after animals, tended crops or served in the house. Work for assigned convicts took up the whole week, although officially Saturday afternoon was set aside as free time for the convicts to tend to their own essential chores and to grow food.

Discover
  • As a class, ask students to list the work that Sarah is expected to do each day. Ask them to note the types of technologies and materials she uses to complete her work, for example, broom, scrubber and washboard.
    In pairs, have students research the jobs which assigned convicts could be given. Students can conduct research in the school or local library, or online.
    The following websites may be useful:
  1. Convict Trail, 'Assignment of Convicts', http://www.convicttrail.org/history.php?id=a3b2c1%f%3
  2. Female Convicts Research Group (Tasmania), http://www.femaleconvicts.org.au/
  3. Historic Houses Trust, 'A Day in the Life of a Convict', http://www.hht.net.au/discover/highlights/kids_fact_sheets/a_day_in_the_life_of_a_convict
  4. National Archives of Australia, 'Women Transported: Myth and Reality', http://www.naa.gov.au/whats-on/audio/women-transported.aspx
  • Compare these jobs with 10 jobs that the students' family members would perform in their work. Students can interview their family members to complete the list.

Reflect
  • Ask students to write a diary entry for a day in Sarah's life. They should include everything that they would be required to do within one 24-hour period. They should also write about how they feel about performing these chores and their aspirations for the future.

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Student Activity Sheet H21.2 Assigned labour