Author: Tara Oldfield
The Bendigo Regional Archives Centre (BRAC) holds local records from 1856 through to the 1970s including maps, plans and council correspondence. The collection also boasts a number of collections available online.
BRAC’s online petitions are fascinating items that shed light on what was important to the people of Bendigo between 1870 and 1899.
You can search the lists of 14,240 names and download one of the 284 petitions that have been digitised. See if an ancestor of yours was community-minded and signed a petition, and see their original signature.
Part of the collection is this petition signed by 21 local men and women regarding using the Town Hall for a women’s franchise meeting.
Bendigo 2nd July 1894
To His Worship the Mayor of Bendigo Dear Sir,
We the undersigned ratepayers beg to request that you will be pleased to convene a public meeting to be held in the Town Hall Bendigo on Monday 23rd July for the purpose of considering the advisability of extending the franchise to women; and if you cannot convene the said meeting that you will permit the Town Hall to be used for that purpose on the date mentioned and will preside at the same.
We are yours respectfully
According to BRAC’s Archives Officer Dr Michele Matthews, this Petition is historically significant for two reasons:
- The fact this Petition was written in July 1894 and so predates (by five months) the South Australian Parliament’s granting of the suffrage to its female residents; South Australia was the first colony to do so. This local petition is therefore evidence of grassroots feeling in support of Women’s suffrage in Bendigo, then a regional Victorian city. The requested meeting did take place on 23 July, at the Bendigo Town Hall. The speakers were the Mayor, D.B.Lazarus MLA, Dr. Quick, Mr.A.S. Bailes, Rev. Rofe and Mrs. MacGillivray.
- It is handwritten by local identity Dr. John Quick (1852-1932), the man who had the year before attended the important Corowa Conference, where his well-received motion led to the calling of the Federal Convention with delegates elected from each colony; together, they wrote the Australian Constitution. Quick went on to be one of the ten Victorian delegates, who attended the Convention’s sittings held in 1897-1898. This Bendigonian was knighted in 1901, specifically for his many contributions to our Commonwealth’s creation.
Please note: BRAC is closed from 4.30pm 22 December until 10am on 11 January 2017 for Christmas.