Chinese Sojourners in Victoria: A Collection of Artefacts from the Upper Ovens Goldfields

01st December 2006

Jennifer Chandler

BArch(Hons), Archaeology Program, School of Historical and European Studies, La Trobe University, October 2005

Chinese immigrants came to Australia throughout the second half of the nineteenth century to mine gold. Substantial numbers of Chinese lived and worked in the rural area of the Upper Ovens Goldfields, Victoria, and apart from the information that historical accounts provide, little is known about them. This thesis analyses a collection of artefacts originally used by this community and contributes to the body of information about Chinese historical artefacts. In the process of this analysis, some information about the Chinese in the Upper Ovens Goldfields was revealed.

The methods adopted in this project were similar to those used in other overseas Chinese research, such as the United States, New Zealand and, to a lesser degree, Australia, and allowed comparisons to be made. Artefact analysis revealed that there is little variation within types in the collection and that overall the collection represents a fairly typical selection of artefact types from this era. Results indicated that the Chinese in the Upper Ovens Goldfields maintained some traditions, a pattern noted in other sites of the overseas Chinese. They did this through the types of food that they consumed, the medicine they used and their leisure activities, such as gambling and opium smoking.

During the course of this research some issues stemming from working with collections surfaced. These deal with government legislation and collectors’ viewpoints. As there is potential for future research in this area, some steps need to be taken to try to protect this heritage by unifying the groups involved.

Jennifer Chandler
Chinese Sojourners in Victoria: A Collection of Artefacts from the Upper Ovens Goldfields
December 2006
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Thesis Abstracts
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