The Female School of Industry was first established in Macquarie Street in Sydney, then moved to Darlinghurst Road around 1877. It finally moved to Petersham in 1903. It was a girls' home and domestic training home for girls aged 4 to 14. It closed in 1926.
The Female School of Industry was established by a committee led by Eliza Darling, the wife of New South Wales' Governor in 1827. It admitted girls aged between four and nine years of age. Girls were 'trained' in domestic service until they were old enough to be sent out to work, usually at the age of 12 to 14.
It is not clear from the annual reports how girls came to enter the home: presumably they were placed by family members or guardians who were in difficulty, or who wanted training for their daughters. Parents were expected to provide maintenance for their children, if they could, and visitors were only allowed on designated days. Although girls were expected to stay until they reached working age, the annual reports do mention that some were removed from the school 'by their friends'.
The Female School of Industry was dissolved by a special Act of Parliament in 1926 and its remaining assets were vested with the Church of England Archbishop of Sydney. The location of surviving records of the Female School of Industry is not known.
Sources used to compile this entry: Female School of Industry, Annual report of the Female School of Industry, Government Printer, Sydney, 1828-1926; Ramsland, John, Children of the back lanes: destitute and neglected children in colonial New South Wales, University of New South Wales Press, Kensington, 1986, 249 pp.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 27 February 2013, Last modified: 14 February 2018