School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Theses

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    The Hotel Kurrajong and the public/domestic dichotomy: Women, Work, & Canberra 1926-66
    Thomas, Claire ( 2021)
    To discover the world of Canberra’s hotels, of which the Hotel Kurrajong is a descendent, is to find a Canberra of women. Women as wives and mothers but also doctors, omnibus entrepreneurs, and bookshop owners. Apart from the Hotel Kurrajong’s managers, Isabelle (Belle) Southwell and Gladys Coles, there were women within and without the hotel who contributed to the making of Canberra. These managers, secretaries, activists, and politicians represent a fraction of the women who lived and worked in Canberra between 1926-66. While the working women of Canberra were more likely to be waitresses than palaeontologists, women were more of a presence in the city in its formative years than is commonly acknowledged. Population records show their percentage of the total population has never been less than thirty-nine per cent. If we accept women were a substantial proportion of the Canberra population from its 1911 inception, we must also accept they were contributing to the city’s culture and workforce. To have a more nuanced understanding of our federal capital’s history, we need to re-examine women’s contribution to the formation and development of that society through a re-evaluation of their paid work.