Amongst the possessions that Irish-born Anne Trotter packed in her trunk to start a new life in Australia was her needlework specimen book. Arriving in Port Phillip in 1844, Anne Trotter was one of many assisted emigrants who, along with other members of her family, were deemed suitable emigrants.
Donated to Melbourne Museum in 2014 by a descendant, Anne's needlework book, which includes various plain sewing exercises and finely-stitched miniature shirts and dresses, provides an insight into the formal schooling provided to young working class women in nineteenth century Britain and Ireland and the skills which they brought to Australia. This lecture will discuss the context of the needlework book and posit its value to a young female emigrant.
LAURA JOCIC is undertaking a PhD at the University of Melbourne, researching dress and its role in Australian colonial society, is a Research Associate at Museums Victoria and an independent curator. She was formerly a curator in the department of Australian Fashion and Textiles at the National Gallery of Victoria where she curated a number of exhibitions including AUSTRALIAN MADE: 100 Years of Fashion. In 2016 Laura curated the exhibition LOUIS KAHAN: art, theatre, fashion for the Town Hall Gallery, Hawthorn. Laura’s most recent lecture at The Johnston Collection was A SMART NEW LIFE | Emigration, dress and Australian colonial society, 1820s – 1860s(2018).
Anne Trotter (b. 1820, arrived Melbourne 1844, d. 1910)
Needlework Specimen Book, Collon, County Louth, Ireland, 1840
unbound book containing a range of sewing and knitting samples
collection of Museums Victoria, Melbourne, HT 36147
gift of Margaret Bagnall, 2014
© Museums Victoria / Creative Commons