On Friday December 7th approximately 50 guests enjoyed a pleasant summer evening at a private view of ‘Four Women’s Stories’ the latest exhibition to be created at the Residency Museum.

The lives and times of four women from different eras and backgrounds have been told through this eye-opening new display funded by a Lotterywest Interpretation of Cultural Heritage Grant with support from the Shire of York. 

After an opening address and acknowledgement of Ballardong Noongar as traditional landowners by Museum Chairperson Sally Boyle, Curator Carol Littlefair explained “previous new exhibitions have focussed on Aboriginal culture, early settlement and convicts. A high proportion of the earliest settlers, and all convicts were men - in fact there was an imbalance of the sexes and a shortage of women in the Swan River Colony throughout the nineteenth century. This exhibition looks at the home and leisure aspects of women’s lives from the 1870’s to the present day”.

Each woman’s life story is told using their own words, either by quotes from historic diaries or directly by contributors. 
Covering the 1870s to around 1900 is the story of Margaret Elvire Hamersley, the daughter of Edward Hamersley who was the wealthiest landowner in the York area in the C19th. Extracts from her diary written in 1874, courtesy the Battye Library, show the lifestyle of a woman from the highest strata of colonial society. Photographs taken by her nephew, Edward Tours Hamersley provide an amazing insight of life at the local family homestead, Wilberforce, around 1900, made available courtesy of Mr. Stephen Hamersley, Mr. Tony Clack and the York Society.

‘Everyday Lives’ tells the story of the typical struggling small farming family from about 1890-1920 told through quotes from the diaries of the Taylor sisters, courtesy of the York Archives. Photographs and information were generously supplied by the late Mrs. Doris Collins who was the niece of the Taylor sisters and many of the objects on display were donated by Arthur and Melville Taylor. Doris was represented by her son Warwick at the preview.

The late Lorna Bateman was a highly regarded female Elder of the Ballardong Noongar people and her story, which mainly covers the period from the 1930s to the 1970s is told here in the museum by her daughter, Laura Lee.

Emotive topics including the Stolen Generations and divisive citizenship certificates are woven through her life story, with photographs and documents generously provided by the Bateman family. The guests listened with keen interest as Laura addressed the gathering during the ceremonies.

The final contributor brought the women’s stories up to the present day.
Marion Kickett tells of her childhood growing up on the York Reserve; very recent history indeed as she describes the harsh living conditions at a time paralleling the formation of the Residency Museum.  Marion’s generosity with information and photographs has been much appreciated, as was her address to the assembled group as she spoke about how much the photographs meant to her family.

Carol Littlefair thanked the contributors and all those who had supported the Museum especially the extremely hard-working team of volunteers who had put in many hours of preparation for the new exhibition, paying particular tribute to the late Phyllis Rogers who was involved in developing the exhibition concept.

Museum Management Committee Chair Sally Boyle concluded proceedings thanking Lotterywest, the Shire of York, the Curator, Cellarbrations of York for in-kind sponsorship of the evening and the Museum volunteers for preparing and serving the refreshments. Reminding everyone that entrance to the Museum was FREE for York residents, she urged all to tell their friends and relatives about ‘the best exhibition about women in W.A.’

Do come along and see for yourself – we think you will agree! The Museum is open from 1pm-3pm on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays and 11am to 3.30pm at weekends.

For more information contact Carol Littlefair, Curator, York Residency Museum, tel 9641 1751 Wednesday/Thursday



Long-time Museum volunteer Jan Barker

Marion Kickett with Shire CEO Pat Hooper recalls her childhood growing up on the York Reserve

Descendants of former residents (from left) Taylor Cornwall, Julia Taylor & Laura Lee at the Exhibition Opening

Warwick Collins, nephew of the late Mrs Doris Collins, one of the Exhibition contributors