‘Fair Delinquents'? Irish Famine Orphans of Colonial Bathurst and Beyond was designed for Eitherside Publications, researched and revealed by Leonie Blair and Dr Perry McIntyre, and supported by Bathurst Regional Council Heritage Interpretation Fund.
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The Great Famine, sometimes called the Irish Potato Famine, was a period of mass starvation and disease in Ireland from 1845 to 1849. During this time about one million people died and an estimated two million became refugees. One of the government responses to the crisis was to establish the Earl Grey immigration scheme to relieve workhouses from overcrowding and to bring single young women to the colonies.
The book tells the stories of 185 Irish Famine orphan girls who settled in Bathurst, the first inland settlement of New South Wales. The girls braved the long sea voyage to become apprentice domestic servants, making a new life for themselves in a new country. New skills, newly earned wages, new opportunities for marriage and family, and a new life beckoned the girls as they set foot on the ships.
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The book design captures the author’s vision to tell the stories of the orphan girls – dispel myths, remove prejudice and question assumptions. The orphaned girls lived through exceptional circumstances, challenging conditions and with minimal resources. Their story has now become part of the Australian story and fabric of our culture.
The cover features a painted artwork, View of Bathurst, New South Wales, c. 1865, to represent the new found land. The painting has been composed in the form of a postcard, juxtaposed with a single piece of jewelry. Does this represent a longing for home, scant precious belongings or memories of loved ones lost?
The design of the book uses a major–minor column layout to structure content and present text and images. This creates generous margins and an asymmetrical layout. While the book is text heavy, well-defined headings, text features and tables, allow the reader to easily scan biographies to find specific information.
The book displays significant historical imagery: black and white photographs, paintings, illustrations and artifacts that beautifully illustrate the era of colonial Bathurst. The imagery captures the vastness of the Australian landscape and the hardship of early regional settlers. Photographs of the girls show their courage, humanity and strength to prosper.
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