When combing through Midlands Agricultural Association’s past catalogues, reports and historical accounts author Vera Taylor came across something unexpected: the association recorded a woman as a member in 1872.
Mrs Taylor and co-author Dr Georgina Pengilley have been working behind the scenes to compile the association’s 180th anniversary book, which will be launched at Campbell Town Show on Friday.
While women’s roles within farming are now more frequently recognised, the discovery of a female association member in the 19th century stunned Mrs Taylor.
“I was really pleased to see that.”
“She lived on a property in Campbell Town district. As far as I’m aware from my reading, it wasn’t until the 1960s that women were made made life members by their parents,” she said.
The book builds on the historical accounts the association published for its 100th and 150th anniversaries.
Minutes, association records, catalogues, photos and interviews were all used to piece together the association’s story over the past 180 years.
“It is a document of information for families who live in the district and people who are interested in its history,” Mrs Taylor said.
Interestingly, the show would be approaching its bicentenary if it was allowed to go ahead when the idea was initially touted.
As association sought permission to hold a “fair” in 1826, but the governor of the day, Colonel George Arthur, would not allow it because he thought it would become “unruly”.
“He thought it would be like fairs in England. The next Governor [Sir John Franklin] gave his support and had the patron role in 1838,” Mrs Taylor said.
“The basis of the fair was to sell surplus stock. At the first show in there were over 200 sheep entries and equally as many horses,” Dr Pengilley said.
Through their research, the authors discovered the association hand wrote its catalogues until 1882, and The Examiner produced the first printed copies.
The association – and the Campbell Town Show – has relied on extensive input from Midlands families over decades, including significant voluntary input.
“There has been a lot of people associated with the show. If it wasn’t for the people involved, we wouldn’t be celebrating,” Dr Pengilley said.
The book will be launched on Friday at the Roberts Wool Arena, Campbell Town Show, at 11.30am.
Copies are $45 and are for sale at the show or via www.campbelltownshow.com.au