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Letter from Robert to his mother

Date: November 1952
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Robert Stephens
Classification:Ephemera
Object Name: Letter
Object No: 00054488
Related Place:England,

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    Description
    This letter was written by British child migrant Robert Stephens, who travelled to Australia with the Fairbridge scheme in 1952, to his sister Margaret in England. In the lettter, Robert, who was extremely homesick, begs to return home to England.
    SignificanceThis letter provides a highly personal insight into the experiences of nine-year-old British child migrant Robert Stephens. It speaks volumes about Robert's enduring attachment to England and the difficulties of leaving his family as an unaccompanied child migrant.
    HistoryBetween 1913 and 1967, more than 7,000 British children were sent to Australia by charities such as Fairbridge, Barnardo's, and the Salvation Army. The Fairbridge Farm School in Molong NSW (opened 1937) was one of three farm training schools established under Fairbridge principles in Australia. South African philanthropist Kingsley Fairbridge aimed to alleviate the plight of British slum children by sending them to farm schools in the colonies. The idea was to remove children from impoverishment, while simultaneously developing remote rural areas of the British empire with young white labour.

    Supported by the Western Australian government, Kingsley and his wife Ruby established the first Fairbridge Farm School at Pinjarra, south east of Perth in 1913. Fairbridge died in 1924, but the scheme continued. Children lived in cottages under a cottage mother, attended local state schools until they were 14, and then spent 12-18 months training in farm work on the property.

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