Minding Her Own Business: Colonial Businesswomen in Sydney
a completely new and deeply human story, which will radically reshape our understanding of nineteenth century colonial cities, business history, women and gender.
Grace Karskens, University of New South Wales
Minding Her Own Business
Colonial Businesswomen in Sydney
2016 Ashurst Business Literature Prize Winner
A history that populates the streets of colonial Sydney with entrepreneurial businesswomen earning their living in a variety of small – and sometimes surprising – enterprises.
From milliners and dressmakers to ironmongers and booksellers; from publicans and boarding-house keepers to butchers and taxidermists; from school teachers to ginger-beer manufacturers: these women have been hidden in the historical record but were visible to their contemporaries.
There are few memorials to colonial businesswomen, but if you know where to look, you can find many traces of their presence as you wander the streets of Sydney. This book brings the stories of these entrepreneurial women to life, with fascinating details of their successes and failures, their determination and wilfulness, their achievements, their tragedies and the occasional juicy scandal. Until now we have imagined colonial women indoors – as wives and mothers, domestic servants or sometimes prostitutes. This book sets them firmly out in the open. See Catherine's article about the book on the NewSouth Publishing website.
Published by NewSouth Publishing in October 2015. Launched by Professor the Hon. Kristina Keneally, Director of Gender Inclusion, Macquarie Graduate School of Management on 16 October 2015 at Gleebooks. Order the book or find booksellers here.
Catherine's award-winning PhD thesis looked at women who were running small businesses in colonial New South Wales and New Zealand. This research was ground-breaking because it revealed that rather than being merely 'colonial helpmeets', supporting their settler husbands, many colonial women in both Australia and New Zealand were engaged in earning a living. Often this involved starting a small business - as a dressmaker or publican, grocer or theatrical entrepreneur - or inheriting an enterprise from a dead husband - such as an ironmongery, butcher's shop or jewellery business.
Catherine has published a number of scholarly articles in Australian as well as journals. These can be accessed below. In October 2015 Catherine published a book, Minding Her Own Business, based on the Sydney portion of her research.
Bishop, C. (2018) ‘Women in the Australian Economy: Reconceptualising women’s place in the public sphere’,Gendered Excellence in the Social Sciences, http://genderinstitute.anu.edu.au/gess/women-australian-economy-reconceptualising-women’s-place-in-public-sphere
Bishop, C. (2017) ‘The Serendipity of Connectivity: Piecing Together Women’s Lives in the Digital Archive’ Women’s History Review 26:5, 766-780
Bishop, C. & A. Woollacott (2016) ‘Business and Politics as Women’s Work: the Australian Colonies and the mid-Nineteenth century Women’s Movement’, Journal of Women’s History 28:1: 84-106
‘A Virtual Walk Down Pitt Street in 1858’ in Labour History and Its People: papers from the Twelfth National Labour History Conference, ed. Melanie Nolan, (Canberra: Australian Society for the Study of Labour History & National Centre of Biography, ANU, 2011): 116-143