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.


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 [1]

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.

  • 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',
  2. Female Convicts Research Group (Tasmania),
  3. Historic Houses Trust, 'Why were Convicts Transported to Australia?',
  4. National Archives of Australia, 'Women Transported: Myth and Reality', 
  5. Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service, 'Ross Female Factory: Archaeology', 
  • 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.

  • 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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