[Episode 17 | 1848: Johanna]

Johanna carries out a variety of chores around town. While delivering vegetables, she overhears a piece of gossip about her father. The local boys tease and attack her because of her bright-red hair.


The Australian curriculum: History

Show curriculum details

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: Servants
Show details
Subtheme(s): Chores, business and employment; Gender roles and stereotypes; Social order and education

In this clip, many servants work in the Owen's large house. Servants such as Aunt Maryann worked long and difficult hours with very free time.

  • As a class, discuss why wealthy landowners such as the Owen family employed many servants. Consider issues such as who made up the servant class, where did they usually comes from, what were their conditions of work, how did they move away from being a servant and what is the role of the servant in contemporary society.
  • Ask the students to create a lotus diagram about servants. A lotus diagram template is provided on Student Activity Sheet H17.2 Servants. You may need to enlarge the template to suit your classroom situation. A lotus diagram is made up of nine squares, each divided into nine boxes. The heading 'Servants' is placed in the middle box. Ask students to write eight subheadings or ideas using 'Servants' for inspiration. Then they should write these eight subheadings in the central box of the surrounding eight squares. Students should then add eight more ideas that relate to the subheadings in each of the boxes.
  • Using their lotus diagram as a tool, ask students to research the life of a house servant. Students should use the following web links to guide their research:
  1. Victorian Servants,
  2. Victorian Life, 'Servants',


Using the information students collect in their research, ask them to create a personal recount for Aunt Maryann or another imaginary servant in the 1840s. The recount should be based on a day in the life of a servant working in a large house. Students should consider the following questions when writing their recount.

  1. What work did servants do in a Victorian household?
  2. Why was it necessary for wealthy landowners to have servants?
  3. How were servants generally treated by the wealthy members of the household?
  4. What was the status of servants during this time? 
  5. Imagine how servants felt about the work they performed.


{tpl region name=footerbottom}