• Entry type: Organisation
  • Entry ID: AWE0549

Governesses’ Institute and Melbourne Home

(From 1857 – 1936)
  • Occupation Social support organisation


The Governesses’ Institute and Melbourne Home opened in Melbourne in 1863 with the aim of accommodating governesses, shop women, needlewomen and servants and to provide a central employment registry in a self-supporting institution. Its forerunner, the Melbourne Female Home, which opened in September 1857 in temporary premises in Collingwood, provided shelter only for newly arrived single female immigrants who were without friends in the colony. The Governesses’ Institute occupied a number of premises over the course of its existence in Little Lonsdale St. Melbourne, “Wynamo” in St Kilda and “Lovell House” in Caulfield. The governing body comprised a central committee, with nine local or suburban committees. A matron was employed to supervise the Home and its occupants. Strict rules applied; women were only admitted if they arrived on a week day, could pay a week’s board in advance and were without children. In 1863 Mrs Laura Jane a’Beckett was elected secretary of the management committee of six men and twenty-six women. It closed in 1936.

Published resources

  • Book
    • The governesses: letters from the colonies 1862-1882, Clarke, Patricia, 1985
  • Thesis
    • A lady in every sense of the word: a study of the governess in Australian colonial society, Jones, Gwenda D. M., 1982
  • Resource

Archival resources

  • State Library of Victoria
    • Records, 1856-1936. [manuscript]

Related entries

  • Related Women
    • Clarke, Janet Marion (1851 - 1909)
  • Affiliated
    • Macartney, Jane (1803 - 1885)