The Alexandra Home for Women was a maternity home that had commenced in 1891 as the House of Mercy, changing its name in 1916. It was commonly known as the Alexandra Home.
In its early years the Alexandra Home accommodated not only unmarried women who were sent by family or self-referred, but also married women who paid for their confinements, and young women who were referred through child welfare, health or, occasionally, Aboriginal welfare authorities. The policy of the Home was to admit unmarried women for their first confinement only.
From 1936, babies were born at the King Edward Memorial Hospital, and mothers and babies came to the Alexandra Home afterwards. Writing its history in The Open Door (1980), Jean Lang reported (p.46) that 36 babies were adopted from the Alexandra Home in 1949: 'with careful checking as to suitability they were placed into good, comfortable homes'. Not all babies were adopted, according to Lang: 'Although there was a long waiting list for adoptions, the policy of the Home was that mothers should keep their babies if possible'.
Between September and December 1917 there 6 women were admitted to the Home. In 1922, there were 23 admissions, with 14 babies born. A new nursery was opened in1924 to provide extra space. By 1945, 88 women and 58 babies were admitted.
The single women who were admitted to the Home worked in the laundry, which was run on a commercial basis as a source of income for the Home until 1934.
In December 1949, the Alexandra Home received its formal Registration of Mothercraft Training. A new wing, named after the Home's patron Lady Mitchell, was built to accommodate trainees.This was Western Australia's first Mothercraft Training Scheme.
By 1950, the Home became known as The Alexandra Home for Mothers and Babies (Inc) and Mothercraft Training School. It remained in the Lincoln Street premises in Highgate.
13 September 2017
Cite this: https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/wa/WE00004
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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