Snapshots: Dining Rooms

We’ve added photographs to a number of homes in NSW that provide a snapshot of children’s daily life in care. Many of the photographs contain children, while some are of the homes they lived in, showing where they ate, worked, learned, played & slept.

The photographs, held by the NSW State Archives, were taken by officers of the Government Printing Office as they reported on conditions in homes, so were most likely staged examples of the children’s everyday life.

King Edward Home in Newcastle was established around 1930 to house up to 28 girls from babies up to 18 years old. It was a receiving home for girls moving between foster placements, or whose placements had broken down. There is not a great deal of information available about the home, including the precise dates it was established and closed down (around 1975, according to a former resident). The three photographs we have added to Find and Connect were taken in 1938, around 30 years earlier than those we originally had. They provide a glimpse of early life at the home, and some context for the lives of the girls who lived there at this time.

An additional 10 photographs of Mittagong Farm Home for Boys have been added to Find & Connect. Where previously the photographs we had were largely of the buildings and grounds, we can now see more of life inside the home.
This photograph was taken in 1938, four years after the following recommendations were made:
“That the practice of closely cropping the hair of inmates be discontinued
That the practice of placing ‘second timers’ of a tender age on the wood heap with a cross-cut saw over a period of months, on Saturday afternoons, be discontinued
That, in view of the climatic conditions, inexpensive slippers or sandals, be provided for use of inmates (at present they are barefooted after 5pm).”
These recommendations were reportedly all adopted.

Weroona Home was opened by the Child Welfare Department in 1946 in Woodford, in the Blue Mountains. This picture was taken two years later in 1948. Most of the 30 boys were there due to a shortage of foster homes available for their age group (from seven to 15 years old). While other photographs from this time show the boys engaged in various activities, this recently added picture is the only one we have of the dining room.

Between 1892 and 1911 more than 200 boys at a time lived on the Sobraon Training Ship, moored off Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour. The Neglected Children’s and Juvenile Offenders’ Act of 1905 allowed for probation, and over the next six years, boys were discharged to parents or guardians, apprenticed out or sent to other homes. The two images recently added, including this one of the boys eating dinner, increases the number of photos of the ship on to three.

Featured image: Yasmar Shelter dining room, 1949