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Vessels of Progressivism? Tasmanian State Girls and Eugenics, 1900-1940


Evans, C and Parry, N, Vessels of Progressivism? Tasmanian State Girls and Eugenics, 1900-1940, Australian Historical Studies, 32, (117) pp. 322-333. ISSN 1031-461X (2001) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1080/10314610108596168


In the early twentieth century the notion of state children as a 'burden on the state', born of a liberal bourgeois philanthropic tradition, was gradually replaced in Tasmania by a modernising notion of intervention in the name of national efficiency. Eugenic principles can be shown to have influenced child welfare ideas and laws, notably the Tasmanian Mental Deficiency Act (1920). However, despite public debate and legislative changes, the bureaucrats in charge of state children maintained their liberal philanthropic practices. In many cases the Children of the State Department clashed with the Mental Deficiency Board. State direction of children was also frustrated by children's agency. Girls were the target of many eugenicist (and liberal evangelical) reforms, but they resisted attempts to control their sexuality and make them 'useful'. In Tasmania, the modernising impetus of progressive arguments was offset by bureaucratic stasis, and the agency of the subjects.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Historical studies
Research Field:Australian history
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Evans, C (Dr Caroline Evans)
ID Code:21678
Year Published:2001
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:History and Classics
Deposited On:2001-08-01
Last Modified:2002-06-11

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