Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

A Widow's Survival Strategy

17 June 1892
Carlton Australia c 1890
MuseumVictoria Collections/items/769061

Clarinna Stringer, a widow with four children living in Carlton, Australia, was starving. She was refused relief by the local charity. By June 1892, she was well behind with the rent and the bailiffs came to confiscate her few sticks of furniture. Stringer ran for help to the Salvage Corps, a quasi anarchist collective of unemployed determined to battle with the bailiffs and salvage the goods of the poor. Within a matter of minutes Stringer's escort numbered 300. The crowd reassembled in front of the local auctioneer's shop.  According to the local newspaper Argus of June 17th, 1892, this was 'the rule of the mob':  'a volley of stones rained upon the walls from the front, smashing most of the windows....the "salvage corps" advanced briskly to the attack and flung themselves on the beleaguered stronghold'.

Read more about family survival in the absence of a male breadwinner in: Bruce Scates, 'Strategic Options and the Household Economy in late 19th century Australia' in: Rebellious Families edited by Jan Kok (New York 2002)