Caroline Chisholm was renowned for her charitable work at a personal and public level and for the social reforms and improvements she achieved in the 19th century.

Some hundreds benefited directly from the School of Female Industry she established and ran in Madras, India, during the 1830s when she was newly married and a mother. Over 11,000 benefited directly during her first period of assisting new and recent emigrants in Australia from 1838 to 1846.

After travelling to England in 1846 with her husband and children, she won a raft of social reforms and improvements for emigrants, particularly poor emigrants. Over the years these benefited, directly and indirectly, a very large number of those going to Australia to settle individually or as a family group or to be re-united with their families there.

When the Chisholms came back to gold-rush Australia in the 1850s, along with their six children, they again acted decisively for the common good. This included provision of affordable accommodation for those travelling to the goldfields and advocating fairer distribution of land. Ill-health and financial difficulties restricted, and then brought to an end, her activities for the common good.

Mrs Chisholm, her husband Archibald and their younger children returned to England in the mid 1860s. She and Archibald lived quietly and in reduced circumstances until both died in 1877.

History — Emigrant Depots and Journeys

Mrs Chisholm began the Female Immigrants’ Home in Bent Street, Sydney at the end of 1841. She achieved a great deal, housing homeless emigrant girls, finding them and other job seekers fairly paid work, and facilitating emigrant depots to assist new settlers. She regularly took “bush parties” to the country. For a map showing the depots and her journeys by land and sea, Click here.

History — Timeline

To see the important dates and movements for Caroline Chisholm and selected details for her husband Archibald and their children, Click here.

History — Biographical Summaries

This website has two short accounts of Caroline Chisholm’s life and work. The first is by the late Percival Serle. His summary has a secularized description of Mrs Chisholm’s motivation and significance, but is otherwise fair and balanced. To view Percival Serle’s entry, clickADB_1949_Serle. The second account is titled “Caroline Chisholm: A Saintly Model”, which immediately distinguishes its approach. To view it, Click here.

History — In Her Own Words

Caroline Chisholm’s most extended piece of writing was her 1842 book called Female Immigration Considered, in a Brief Account of the Sydney Immigrants’ Home.

Here are five extracts: