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British Migrants in the 20th Century: ‘£10 poms’, ‘Home Children’ and doctors

The opportunities and exigencies of empire made Britain traditionally an emigrant-sending nation, particularly in relation to the settler colonies and later, Dominions. British migration to these once-imperial spaces did not end with decolonization. But did it change its meaning? Who emigrated, for what reasons, and how were migrating Britons received in the nations that became the global Commonwealth? Looking at Canada and Australia, this week we will explore perceptions and experiences of British post war emigration in comparison with other migrant groups, and explore the spectrum between 'forced' and 'free' population movements.

Mini-powerpoint Week 11

Required Readings:

  • GROUPS 1 and 2 Freddy Foks, 'Emigration State: Race, Citizenship and Settler Imperialism in Modern British History, c. 1850-1972', Journal of Historical Sociology, 2022.
  • Group 3 A James Hammerton & Catharine Coleborne, 'Ten‐pound poms revisited: Battlers’ tales and British migration to Australia, 1947‐1971', Journal of Australian Studies, 25:68 (2001), 86-96,
  • Group 4 Marjory Harper and Stephen Constantine, Migration and Empire (Oxford: OUP, 2010), 'Children of the Poor: Child and Juvenile Migration', pp 247-276. Class Extract
  • Group 5 Karen Agutter and Rachel Ankeny, 'Unsettling Narratives: Overcoming Prejudices in the Hostel Stories Project', Journal of Australian Studies 40:4, 464-477.

Discussion Questions:

  • Were British child migrants forced or free? How do their experiences compare to those of Australia's Stolen Children?
  • What motivated post-war British migration to the Commonwealth, and how were the newcomers received?
  • How does the concept of the 'emigration state' help us to understand migration, and can that concept help us understand hostility or tensions between settled ethnic minority communities and subsequent generations of migrants?

Archival Opportunities:

Go to the Modern Records Centre right here on campus and view relevant primary sources, for example:

MSS.292/904/1; MSS.292/904/1 -- try the search terms 'child emigrants', 'migrants', and 'immigration'.

Background Readings:

*Gwenda Tavan, ‘“Fractured Families”: the Jan Allen Controversy and Australian-British Relations, 1970-72’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 40:4 (November 2012), 669-690. Try this for a really interesting window on ‘White Australia’ vs Interracial Britain!

Warwick Anderson, The Cultivation of Whiteness: Science, Health and Racial Destiny in Australia, (Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2006), Chapter 6. (A great book, and essential reading for those of you researching White Australia!)

Karen Balcom, '"Phony Mothers" and Border-Crossing Adoptions: The Montreal-to-New York Black Market in Babies in the 1950s', Journal of Women's History, vol. 19 no. 1, 2007, pp. 107-116. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/jowh.2007.0003

Jordana Bailkin, 'Defining the Refugee Child',

Marilyn Barber and Murray Watson, Invisible Immigrants: The English in Canada since 1945 (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2015).

Philip Bean and Margaret Humphreys, Lost Children of Empire (New York: Harper Collins, 1990).

Alison Blunt and Jayani Bonnerjee, ‘Home, city and diaspora: Anglo-Indian and Chinese attachments to Calcutta,’ Global Networks 13 (2013), 220–240. TO LOOK AT OTHER IMPERIAL MIGRANTS AND MIGRATIONS, SEE THIS ARTICLE, THE ONE BELOW, and Joanna Herbert's piece next week.

Alison Blunt, Jayani Bonnerjee, and Hysler-Rubin, N. ‘Diasporic returns to the city: Anglo-Indian and Jewish visits to Calcutta,’ South Asian Diaspora 4 (2012): 25–43.

Stephen Castles, 'Italians in Australia: Building a Multicultural Society on the Pacific Rim', Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, vol. 1 no. 1, 1991, pp. 45-66. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/dsp.1991.0000

Lorna Chessum, 'Race and immigration in the Leicester local press 1945–62', Immigrants & Minorities, 17:2 (1998) 36-56, DOI: 10.1080/02619288.1998.9974942 NEW FIND!

Stephen Constantine, ‘Waving Goodbye? Australia, Assisted Passages and the Empire and Commonwealth and Commonwealth Settlement Acts, 1945–72.’ Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 26, no. 2 (1998): 176–95. doi: 10.1080/03086539808583031 (available via Taylor&Francis Online database).

Denise Cuthbert and Marian Quartly, "Forced Adoption in the Australian Story of National Regret and Apology," Australian Journal of Politics and History 58, no. 1 (2012): 82-96.

Denise Cuthbert, & Marian Quartly, "Forced Child Removal and the Politics of National Apologies in Australia." The American Indian Quarterly, vol. 37 no. 1, 2013, pp. 178-202. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/aiq.2013.0000

Kate Douglas & Pamela Graham, ' "Go Back to Where You Came From": Stunt Documentary, Conversion Narrative, and the Limits of Testimony on Australian Television', Biography, vol. 36 no. 1, 2013, pp. 124-147. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/bio.2013.0000

Karen Dubinsky, 'Babies Without Borders: Rescue, Kidnap, and the Symbolic Child', Journal of Women's History, vol. 19 no. 1, 2007, pp. 142-150. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/jowh.2007.0009

Ann Haebich, 'Forgetting Indigenous Histories: Cases from the History of Australia's Stolen Generations', Journal of Social History, vol. 44 no. 4, 2011, pp. 1033-1046. Project MUSE,

Claire Halstead, '"Dangers behind, pleasures ahead": British-Canadian identity and the evacuation of British children to Canada during the Second World War', British Journal of Canadian Studies, vol. 27 no. 2, 2014, pp. 163-179. Project MUSE,

A. James Hammerton, ‘Life stories, family relations and the ‘lens of migration’: postwar British emigration and the new mobility’ in Desley Deacon, Penny Russell and Angela Woollacot, eds, Transnational Ties: Australian Lives in the World, (Canberra: ANU Press, 2008) at

A. James Hammerton, 'Growing Up in “White Bread” England in the Sixties I Might as Well Have Come From Mars’ History of Australia Vol. 7 , Iss. 2 (2010)

Christiane Harzig, 'MacNamara's DP Domestics: Immigration Policy Makers Negotiate Class, Race, and Gender in the Aftermath of World War II', Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society, vol. 10 no. 1, 2003, pp. 23-48. Project MUSE,

Scott Johnston, '“Only Send Boys of the Good Type”: Child Migration and the Boy Scout Movement, 1921-1959', The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, vol. 7 no. 3, 2014, pp. 377-397. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/hcy.2014.0036

Tiffany F. Jones, Anna Greenwood and Harshad Topiwala, 'Indian Doctors in Kenya, 1895–1940: The Forgotten History', Social History of Medicine 29.3 (2016): 647-648 doi:10.1093/shm/hkw034 E-journal.

Bernard Kelly, ‘Masters in Their Own House’: Britain, the Dominions and the 1946 Ex-Service Free Passage Scheme', Journal of Imperial & Commonwealth History. Vol. 44 Issue 1 (Feb 2016), p121-139. (available via Taylor&Francis Online database).

Victoria Mason, 'Strangers Within in the "Lucky Country": Arab-Australians after September 11', Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, vol. 24 no. 1, 2004, pp. 233-243. Project MUSE,

Andrew May, 'Exiles from the Children’s City: Archives, imperial identities and the juvenile emigration of Anglo-Indians from Kalimpong to Australasia', Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, vol. 14 no. 1, 2013. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/cch.2013.0016 For an alternative perspective on child migration...

Lucy Noakes, ‘From War Service to Domestic Service: Ex-Servicewomen and the Free Passage Scheme 1919–22.’ Twentieth Century British History 22, no. 1 (2011): 1–27. doi: 10.1093/tcbh/hwq031

Roy Parker, Uprooted : the shipment of poor children to Canada, 1867-1917, (Policy Press, 2008).

Jon Stratton ‘Not just another multicultural story’, Journal of Australian Studies Vol. 24 , Iss. 66 (2000) 23-47 (available via Taylor&Francis Online database).

Shurlee Swain, '"Homes Are Sought for These Children": Locating Adoption within the Australian Stolen Generations Narrative', The American Indian Quarterly, vol. 37 no. 1, 2013, pp. 203-217. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/aiq.2013.0004

Shurlee Swain, 'Sweet Childhood Lost: Idealized Images of Childhood in the British Child Rescue Literature', The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, vol. 2 no. 2, 2009, pp. 198-214. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/hcy.0.00 (Good for background on what motivated the global -- forced or free -- dispersal of children).

*Gwenda Tavan, ‘“Fractured Families”: the Jan Allen Controversy and Australian-British Relations, 1970-72’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 40:4 (November 2012), 669-690. Try this for a really interesting window on ‘White Australia’ vs Interracial Britain!

Alistair Thomson, ‘ "Good migration": Place, meaning and identity in audio letters from Australia, 1963‐1965', Journal of Australian Studies Vol 25, Issue 68: Scatterlings of Empire (2001), 105-116 (available via Taylor&Francis Online database).

S. Wills, 'When Good Neighbours Become Good Friends: The Australian Embrace of the Millionth Migrant', Australian Historical Studies, 34/124 (2004), 345-7.

David Wright, '"Worse Than Being Married": The Exodus of British Doctors From the National Health Service to Canada, C. 1955-75', Journal of the History of Medicine and the Allied Sciences 65.4 (2010), 546-575.

Rakefet Zalashik and Nadav Davidovitch, 'Professional Identity across the Borders: Refugee Psychiatrists in Palestine, 1933–1945’, Social History of Medicine (2009) 22 (3): 569-587 E Journal -- interesting for comparisons of medical migrants and migration.

Internet Resources:

For more on travelling and migrating to Australia in general, see: 'Journeys' from the Museum Victoria, Australia.

On 'Ten Pound Poms'

'The Changing Face of Modern Australia' from the Australian Government

'Belongings' from Migration Heritage, New South Wales

On 'Home Children':

British Home Child 

Home Children Immigration Records, 1869-1930

Canadian British Home Children 

Child Migrants Trust

The Lost Children

Do note that many pages in both of these categories are written by communities and activists. These are very valuable resources for the first hand accounts, memories and interpretations they provide, but should be handled sensitively and with critical attention as primary source materials.