Matrons at the Old Melbourne Gaol and City Watch House

Female wardens with keys, standing in a

Matrons Eleanor Gertrude Wernert, Jean White and Nora Fitzgerald outside the Melbourne City Watch House, c. 1909-1911.

I am currently working on a study of women working at the Old Melbourne Gaol and City Watch House in the late nineteenth century, which began as a report for the National Trust of Australia, Victoria, to help the Trust update their visitor displays the Gaol Tourist Site. In this research, I am looking at women who worked as matrons, wardresses and officers at both the Gaol and the Watch House from the mid-1800s to the early twentieth century to explore how these roles—which sat outside ideas of 'suitable' women's work of the time—are a part of the larger story of the growing acceptance of women working outside the home in paid positions.