The Female Immigration Depot opened in Sydney in 1848 to supervise the importation of unmarried female immigrants into New South Wales. Travelling on subsidised passages, these women were supposed to work as domestic servants and to marry into colonial society. The depot represented a new, institutional way of managing the perceived physical and moral dangers for female immigrants but it also played an important role in the transformation of immigrants from a variety of backgrounds—ethnic, religious, linguistic, and cultural—into settlers with a shared British identity. Drawing on the rich archival and archaeological materials related to the Female Immigration Depot (1848-1887) at Hyde Park Barracks, I provide a case study for a culinary archaeology of the institution. Tacking between multiple lines of evidence provides detailed glimpses into life at the depot and, in particular, into moments of disjuncture between official policy and actual behaviour. The results reveal a diet that was much more varied than the official dietary would suggest, pointing to the range of strategies that women within the institution had for acquiring food products. The range of food remains found at the barracks connects the immigrant women into globalised meshworks of circulation and broader shifts in dining practices. More broadly, tracing the flows of people, goods, and ideas through the depot highlights the importance of emergent institutions of immigration for understanding the formation of the settler colonies.

About the presenter

Kimberley Connor is a PhD candidate in the Department on Anthropology with a minor in History at Stanford University. Her work combines archaeological analysis with archival research to study historical diets. Kimberley’s current project uses multi-material analysis of food-related artefacts from Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney to understand the role food played in shaping immigrants within the British Empire. Connor received her B.A. (Languages) in French and Archaeology, and B.A. (Honours) from the University of Sydney and a Masters in Anthropology from Stanford University.

Email [makayla.harding@uqconnect.edu.au] or [t.dooley1@uq.edu.au] for Zoom link.

About Archaeology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Archaeology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of archaeological research and ideas amongst UQ archaeology students and staff. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment. It is hoped that anyone interested in current archaeological directions, both within and outside the School and University, will be able to attend and contribute to the series.


443; Michie Building (9) & on Zoom