Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Women's Melbourne" - a valuable publication and resource

Women's History Month may have just ended, but it is essential that female "herstory" continues to be brought to light, no matter the season.
There is a well-known quote by Myra and David Sadker in their salient 1994 work entitled Failing at Fairness: How America's Schools Cheat Girls that has become almost a catchcry among those who feel passionate about how history is taught to new generations of girls: "Every time a girl reads a womanless history she learns she is worth less", and so it is wonderful to see that many historians, authors, academics and others are constantly striving to change this attitude.
A fantastic (and free!) publication was launched this week in Australia that will help to illuminate both famous and little-known women associated with the City of Melbourne. Published by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) and supported by the City of Melbourne Grants Program, Heritage Victoria, and the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust, it was a "labour of love" of the National Trust's Senior Historian, Celestina Sagazio, and is entitled Women's Melbourne.
The book is most entertaining, informative and well-illustrated, and gives suggestions for a series of self-guided walking tours of Melbourne streets that focus on the women associated with them. There are buildings that once housed world-famous Melburnians such as Dame Nellie Melba and Helen Reddy, while others are primarily best known to Australians such as soon-to-be Saint Mary McKillop and Caroline Chisholm.
It is fascinating to learn new and interesting facts about women from every walk of life from prostitutes and madams to socialites and sufragettes, from artists and architects to doctors and politicians, and no doubt some of the women I have personally discovered for the first time in the pages of Women's Melbourne will inspire future blogs. (A previous subject - Nellie Stewart - is associated with a number of the sites mentioned including the Princess Theatre and the demolished Melbourne High School.)
Congratulations to Celestina and all those who assisted her in this excellent work.

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