Investigation 3

Who were some Tasmanians working for change in the 1890s?

Tasmanian politicians played important roles in making Federation a reality. Some participated in the Conventions held in the 1890s to plan how a federal system would operate. Some actively campaigned to build support for Federation, working to make sure Tasmanians were informed about how it would benefit the colony and all of Australia.

At the time of Federation, only two colonies—South Australia and Western Australia—had granted women the right to vote. In Tasmania, women could not vote or become a member of Parliament, although they campaigned strongly for these rights. In fact, some of Tasmania’s prominent citizens in the 1890s were women, and they played a significant role in bringing about political and social change. Tasmanian women won the right to vote for the Tasmanian Parliament in 1903.

Your Task

Discover the values, leadership qualities and motivations of prominent Tasmanians in the 1890s.


  1. As a class, brainstorm a list of values. The nine Values for Australian Schooling may be used as a starting point for creating a list of values. Brainstorm a second list of leadership qualities. It might be useful to have a leader or leaders in mind when creating this second list.
  2. Form groups of four. Each group member will be responsible for reading one of the biographies. Your task is to discover your prominent person’s values and leadership qualities. The biography may include all or only some of the values or leadership qualities identified on the class list. Circle significant events and facts.
  3. Read your person’s biography to your group. Explain the values and leadership qualities that you have identified. Be prepared to justify your observations if required.
  4. As a class, make a list of the possible motivations for Edward Braddon, John Keating, Jessie Rooke and Bolton Stafford Bird for making a difference to the lives of others and the colony of Tasmania. There are no right or wrong answers, but you need to be able to justify your suggestions based on the biographies that you have explored.