Caroline Chisholm, 19th-century social reformer and philanthropist, left few personal effects to shed light on her remarkable life. This scrapbook, handed down through the Chisholm family, was purchased by a Chisholm historian at an auction in Tasmania, and in 2000 was presented to the museum.
The scrapbook consists of material relating to Chisholm’s work assisting immigrants in, or trying to get to, Australia: newspaper clippings, public notices, posters, correspondence, her Family Colonization Loan Society constitution and meeting minutes, and documents containing her signature. The earliest document dates back to 1843; most of the items are from her time in Britain and Australia from 1852 to 1866.
It is not known who collated the scrapbook. Perhaps it was Chisholm herself, but it might also have been her husband, Archibald, or one of her nine children. The personal nature of much of the material, such as soiree invitations and railway tickets, suggests the compiler was someone intimate with her personal archive. The items are not in chronological order, but were probably added shortly after the events they record.
The scrapbook captures Chisholm’s working life. Posters advertise the immigration lectures she gave across Great Britain; railway tickets stamped for free travel indicate the distances she covered and the official support for her project; invitation cards reveal a woman circulating in high society, where her fundraising efforts would have been directed; lists of names record the people she assisted financially to migrate to Australia.