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The Frauenstein Letters

Aspects of nineteenth century emigration from the Duchy of Nassau to Australia

Kathrine Reynolds

This book investigates the migration of nearly 20% of the population from the village of Frauenstein-Wiesbaden (Germany) in the mid nineteenth century (1852-54) to Australia, using the letters and diaries of the towns-people, as well as official records and documentation. These migrants were imported as indentured workers for the developing wine industry, being sponsored by the Australian colonial authorities, and their stories make a significant contribution to both the migration debate as well as early Australian history.
Using the voices of ordinary people revealed in their writing to and from Europe (the Frauenstein Letters) gives new insights into the migration process: What urged these people to migrate? What did they think about migration and how were they affected by it?
Much of this migration correspondence has been generated by the female members of the family and, as treasured possessions, the letters have survived a century and a half and provide a window onto the experiences of ordinary working women whose voices from that period were seldom heard. The female construct of memory, and hence of history, is different and this book shows how important female migrant letters are in enhancing our knowledge of history and human migration.
Contents: Migration theories – Migration schemes and assisted migration – Indenture – German migration to Australia – Life in Frauenstein and factors affecting migration – Letters and their function – Migrant letters and the construct of history – The Frauenstein letters.