Single Mothers and their Children
This book is the first comprehensive history of single motherhood in Australia. Shurlee Swain and Renate Howe tell the powerful, if painful and often moving, story of these women and their children and the lives they constructed. Starting in the 1850s when abandonment and infanticide were not uncommon, the book's main focus ends in 1975 when the legal status of illegitimacy was abolished. The book covers issues of baby farming, infanticide, abortion, sex education, birth control, adoption and marriage, in effect becoming a history of sexual practice in Australia. While tracing profound changes from a time when single mothers were locked in gaol for discarding their babies to the establishment of state benefits, the authors find a good deal of continuity over the period. This long-awaited book makes an important contribution to social, welfare and women's history in Australia.