Historical information

Warrnambool has never done justice to the women who shared their menfolk the hardships of the pioneering days. Silent Lives fills a void in the history of Warrnambool and surrounding districts, during the early decades 1840s to 1910, providing a narrative about some of the people, in particular women, missing so far in our documented history. Elizabeth O'Callaghan has meticulously researched the period, drawing on early newspapers, diaries, letters, unpublished family histories, honour board listings as well as public documents such as hotel licensing and teacher records held in the Public Record Office of Victoria and State Library of Victoria. By their unremitting labours and self-sacrifice the pioneering women of Warrnambool and district helped to lay the foundations of our communities today.


This publication is of significance as it documents the lives of 19th century women in Warrnambool and district between 1840 and 1910 covering Aboriginal women, schools and teachers, specialist teachers of art, writing and cookery, sporting activities, political and charitable activities, how the law treated women, medical treatment, and the everyday lives of women and their families. It contains images of art produced by some of these women.

Physical description

A4 size book with photograph of 7 women and 3 children in c1890sworking clothing and long white aprons, sitting and standing in front of a hedge with washing draped over the hedge. The two girls on the right are wearing wide-brimmed hats. The title is in white print on a band of dark blue across the middle. The bottom third features an early image of Warrnambool and the author's name in dark blue.

Inscriptions & markings

Elizabeth O'Callaghan/November 2017