oral history group initials

Oral history group, release Number 6.
We can still remember. Girls at school 1912-1934
Release date 2014.

Interviewers: Suzy Chandler, Lis Christensen, Prue Gill, Marian Letcher, Mary Lush & Sue Woolley
Musicians: Susan Breen Clarke, Anna Clarke, Sandy Price & Fintona girls
Sound editor: Mary Lush
Producers: Lis Christensen & Mary Lush
Financial supporters: Tourmont Inc & an anonymous donor

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The lives and schooling of girls circa 1920s

girls on campGirls and staff at Mount Buffalo. Photo: Gunn family

This recording tells a story about particular women in a particular time, a time when non-government schools were the only source of full secondary education to university entrance level in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

The women whose voices are heard between them attended one-teacher country schools, State schools, dame schools and private schools. They have in common the fact that at least some of their schooling was at Fintona. They talk of their schooling in all of these places, but particularly at Fintona.

Conditions of use: Intellectual Property and Ownership

The interviewees and interviewers in the Releases below have agreed to their work being made available, but the Releases remain subject to copyright. Users must not do, permit or authorise any act that infringes this copyright. For example you must not reproduce the Releases, publish the Releases, perform the Releases in public, communicate the Releases to the public, make an adaptation of the Releases, enter into a commercial rental arrangement in respect of the Releases or authorise a third party to do any of those things. You must not at any time do, permit or authorise any act that infringes the Moral Rights in the Releases. For example you must not treat the Releases in a derogatory manner, falsely attribute the Releases or fail to attribute the Releases to the author or performer.

This Release should be cited as: Christensen L & Lush M, producers (2014). We can still remember. Girls at school 1912-1934. Oral History Group Release 6, http://www.fintonahistory.com.au

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You can download or listen to the entire recording or individual tracks

Option 1. Entire recording
Size: 68 MB
Duration: 1 hour 2 minutes


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Option 2. Individual tracks:

Track 1 Introduction 1:30


Track 2 The family backgrounds of the girls and their friends 8:38 Chandler, Christensen, Forrest, Gabb, Gayford, Gill, Gough, Gunn, Letcher, Lush, Reilly, Scales, Simpson, Wassard, Wilcox


Track 3 – Primary schooling 7:16
Chandler, Christensen, Gabb, Gilbert, Gill, Gough, Gunn, Letcher, Lush, Scales, Wilcox


Track 4 Fresh air and exercise 5:21
Catchlove, Chandler, Forrest, Gabb, Gayford, Gill, Gilbert, Gough, Gunn, Letcher. Lush, Parker, Reilly, Scales, Simpson, Wilcox


Track 5, Lessons 9:09


Track 6, On the conduct of women and on discipline 7:41
Catchlove, Chandler, Forrest, Gabb, Gill, Goldsworthy, Gough, Gunn, Letcher, Lush, Scales, Reilly


Track 7 Annual events 4:59
Corbett, Forrest, Gill, Gunn, Letcher, Lush, Parker, Wilcox, Woolley


Track 8 Boundaries 5:49
Catchlove, Forrest, Gayford, Gough, Letcher, Lush, Parker, Reilly, Wilcox


Track 9 World events 7:42
Catchlove, Gabb, Gayford, Gill, Gough, Gunn, Letcher, Lush, Reilly, Wilcox


Track 10 Summing up 4:45
Catchlove, Chandler, Forrest, Gayford, Gilbert, Gough, Lush


Additional notes

Fintona is a girls' school in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. It is one of a number of non-government schools still operating today that were founded over 100 years ago by formidable women. These interviewees, aged at the time of interview between their late 80s and 103, were the last generation of girls to be taught at Fintona while it was still owned by its main founder, Miss Annie Hughston.

In compiling this recording we have not selected only those memories that cast the school, or the girls, in the best light. Rather we have tried to convey something of the range of the girls' lives and experiences. We have inserted some information about the context of the times to guard against foreseeable misinterpretations by the listeners.

We thank the interviewees for their generosity, particularly when recalling unhappy or difficult times. Listeners wanting more information are referred to the interviews listed below which are held in the oral history archive at Fintona. The year following each name is the year they left Fintona.


Interview number

Wassard (Aase) 1921


Corbett (Yolande) née Birch 1927


Gunn (Jean) née Rose 1930


Catchlove (Joan) née Fussell 1931


Forrest (Leigh) née Gregory 1932


Gayford (Fay) néeMackrell 1933


Gabb (Joan) née Hallam 1934


Scales (Dora) née Goudie 1936

14 & 30

Simpson (Gwen) neé Mackrell 1936


Gough (Majorie) née Trott 1936


Parker (Diana) née Matthews 1936


Gilbert (Merle) née Goldsworthy 1937


Wilcox (Jean) née Anderson 1937


Reilly (Hope) 1937


Historical detail

Those unfamiliar with the details of the history of Fintona may be confused by the mentions of Miss Cunningham. Margaret Cunningham began teaching at Fintona in 1929, and bought Fintona from Miss Hughston at the end of 1934. In the period of this recording she was a house mistress and science teacher.
Full secondary education in State run schools arrived in the eastern suburbs in the mid 1950s when Box Hill Boys High and Camberwell High held their first matriculation classes.*

For information about examination failure rates and changes in the philosophy of teaching see McCalman (1993).**

*McCalman J (1993). Journeyings. The biography of a middle-class generation 1920-1990. Melbourne University Press, p 114
**Ibid pp 119-128