Agents of Empire

Agents of Empire: British Female Migration to Canada and Australia, 1860-1930

Lisa Chilton
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442685499
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Agents of Empire
    Book Description:

    Agents of Empirehighlights the aims and methods behind the emigrators' work, as well as the implications and ramifications of their long-term engagement with this imperialistic feminizing project.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8549-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-16)

    The Paris International Exhibition of 1900 was anticipated with great excitement by ‘leading’ men and women around the world. Since the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, these events had gained a reputation as fantastic cultural events, at which history and the future, cosmopolitan urban society and ‘exotic’ colonized peoples, agricultural science and industrial innovations were brought together to illustrate Western society’s forward march of progress. International exhibitions were competitive events, where representatives of participating countries endeavoured to reveal to observers (at the exhibition and back home) their nations’ various assets. As the exhibition that would usher in a new...

  6. chapter one ‘With This Sign I Conquer’: Middle-Class Female Emigrators and the Management of Imperial Migration
    (pp. 17-39)

    In Mary Heath-Stubbs’s official history of the Girls’ Friendly Society (GFS), published in 1925 to mark the society’s golden anniversary, there is a striking visual representation of the relationships between the women who promoted and facilitated female emigration during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the British Empire (see figure 1 in the illustration section). The image is dominated by a carefully staged photograph of Ellen Joyce, who was the head of the GFS’s Emigration Department and a key member of the British Women’s Emigration Association (BWEA) for over forty years. In this photograph Joyce appears confident and...

  7. chapter two Safe Passage: Narratives of Women in Transit
    (pp. 40-65)

    In their annual report for 1905, the Travellers’ Aid Society (TAS) outlined a ‘typical’ turn-of-the-century incident. Two young Irish women set out by train for London on the first leg of their journey to Australia. Soon after their departure from Ireland, a man attempted to befriend them. He assured them that if they were not met in London as had been planned, he would help them find suitable overnight accommodation. According to the TAS worker who had been asked to meet them at Euston Station, the stranger made the women anxious by his refusal to accept politely their indications that...

  8. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  9. chapter three ‘Grit and Grace’: A New Class of Women for the Colonies
    (pp. 66-96)

    In 1906 Kathleen Saunders undertook a ‘mission’ to Canada on behalf of the British Women’s Emigration Association (BWEA). ‘The main object of my mission,’ she wrote, ‘has been to find openings for gentlewomen by birth and education with high principles, whose quiet influence will be felt wherever they are.’ Saunders published a summary of her findings in theImperial Colonist.Having discovered that Canada had few jobs to offer British gentlewomen, her summary began with the somewhat disingenuous statement: ‘Home Help – what a novel but what a comprehensive name!’¹ By 1906, there was nothing ‘novel’ about the home help. Ladies’...

  10. chapter four Letters ‘Home’: Female Emigrants and the Imperial Family of Women
    (pp. 97-117)

    The November 1910 issue of theImperial Colonistfeatures a series of four letters written by A. Glanville, who had immigrated to Canada under the auspices of the British Women’s Emigration Association (BWEA) earlier that year.¹ Glanville’s letters touch upon various aspects of her life between her departure from London in March and the writing of the fourth letter in October, 1910. They tell of her work as a nurse in a Columbia Coast Mission Loggers’ Hospital 140 miles up the coast from Vancouver, then at a hospital in Revelstoke, British Columbia. They also hint at Glanville’s changing state of...

  11. chapter five Welcoming Women: Reception Work in Canada and Australia
    (pp. 118-151)

    For a great many Canadian and Australian men and women, the reputations of the spaces in which they lived (whether defined locally, regionally, or nationally) were a matter of extreme importance during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As historians with a wide range of interests have shown, the citizens of these young nations actively engaged in the process of national, regional, and community image building.¹ Australians and Canadians were both self-conscious about their international identities and anxious about the likely ramifications of negative stereotypes on immigration. The uproar that surrounded the publication of a particularly negative article in...

  12. chapter six Domesticating Canberra: The Federal Capital Commission and the Domestic-Servant Project
    (pp. 152-172)

    Three-quarters of a century after Caroline Chisholm implemented her program of protected female migration and reception in New South Wales, and sixty-five years after the formation of the Female Middle-Class Emigration Society, the Federal Capital Commission (the government body charged with overseeing the official opening of Australia’s capital city) decided that Canberra desperately required more domestic servants than were locally available. Because of the capital city’s symbolic importance, the commission decided that the provision of female labourers for Canberra’s households should become a government priority. The plan that the Federal Capital Commission devised called for the importation of young female...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 173-182)

    Over the course of the second half of the nineteenth century, Britons embraced the empire and imperialism with increasing enthusiasm. At the turn of the century, propaganda associated with the Anglo-Boer War was added to the already substantial body of pro-empire cultural production to whip up a frenzy of imperial celebration. The British Empire was central to Britons’, and especially English people’s, understandings of themselves and their place within the larger world. Yet the changes that occurred within the British Empire over the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were deeply troubling for fervent imperialists. Between the mid-1800s and the...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 183-234)
  15. Index
    (pp. 235-240)