There were two cornerstones in Bertha’s life; cricket and dead rabbits. I find both repugnant, but I have had to explore both to better understand the woman who was my great-grandmother. Through writing about Bertha I attempt to illustrate the experiences of women around the year 1908. This was the year that women were awarded the right to vote in Victoria. 1 Bertha was not active in campaigns for or against the women’s suffrage movement. In fact, it is not known whether she even voted in the next state election, held in 1911. However as we are exploring the broad topic of” women in 1908″, women like Bertha are important to reflect upon. She was busy getting on with life at the time of the 1908 decision. Her existence did not start or cease in that year because of a parliamentary decision. That does not mean that she did not benefit from women’s ability to vote. She stands, however, as a contrast to many of the other women that you will find in this book. Bertha’s son Norman (affectionately known as Norm), who became my grandfather, was never comfortable speaking about her. Newspaper articles, too, that could have offered insight into her life did not offer more than scant details. Thus I have had to read between the lines more often than not. It is in these silences that I have found glimpses of her. These silences also reflect the sentiment that women during this period should remain in the private sphere, rather than encroach upon the public domain. 2 So without further ado, please let me introduce you to Bertha Henrietta Churcher.
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