Women's Work: The Professionalisation and Policing of Fortune-Telling in Australia
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In the early twentieth century, fortune-telling was being heralded by Australian newspapers as the nation’s latest fad. It was enjoyed as a popular form of entertainment, particularly by women. For other women though, fortune-telling represented a source of income, and sometimes their sole means of support. At the same time, fortune-telling was actually a criminal offence, leaving women who practised it vulnerable to police prosecution. Yet while fortune-telling had long been illegal and associated with a variety of criminal practices, the federation period witnessed a growth in legal activity against it. This was due in part to the increased visibility brought about by the practice’s professionalisation, which prompted innovations in policing that opened up other areas of work to female involvement. This article thus probes some of the changes that took place in the culture of women’s work during this crucial era.
© 2015 Australian Society for the Study of Labour History. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)