One page handwritten letter written by Lettie from Kew, Melbourne to her friends Nellie and Will in England, dated 19 November 1913. Lettie migrated to Australia on the SS Port Macquarie with her daughter Kit [Katie], in April 1913. This is one of two letters as well as a postcard featuring an image of the SS Port Macquarie which have survived having been found by the granddaughter of the recipient Nellie.

The letters suggests that Lettie is in domestic service and as she is still paying off an advance to Mrs Woodruff [either her employer or senior housekeeper] they probably arrived not too long before the letter was written. References to the boat also implies it still fresh in her memory. Lettie is working in Kew and she and Kit appear to be well treated, eating well and contemplating a trip to Tasmania for the summer months with her employer. She comments on the expensive standard of living, missing the small bargain shops in England as well as the difficulty for male employment except on the land and in the bush. It would appear that Lettie was sponsored to come out to Australia, a common practice particularly as a way of encouraging domestic and agricultural workers of which there was a great shortage in Victoria. Lettie also expresses her hopes to return to England after four years.

Physical Description

One page letter written on one side in black ink. Paper lined and has several creases where letter has been folded in half and then into thirds.


This small set of correspondence is significant as a representation of the life of an English domestic servant in Melbourne in the early 1900s. References to sponsorship, treatment, the price of goods, distance from home and urban employment opportunities offer a personal reflection on life in Melbourne, as well as touching on broader themes of migration and in particular the shortage of domestic and agricultural workers which resulted in large assisted migration schemes targeting British migrants for these types of employment.

More Information

  • Collecting Areas

    Migration & Cultural Diversity, Working Life & Trades

  • Acquisition Information

    Donation from Frances Walsh, 25/10/2009

  • Sender

    Mrs Lettie, Kew, Victoria, Australia, 19 Nov 1913

  • Other Association (See Comments)

    England, Great Britain, 19 Nov 1913
    Letter addressed to Nellie and Will in England.

  • Inscriptions

    Header: Mill Hill/25 Fellows Street/Kew, Melbourne/Victoria/Novr 19th My dear Nellie & Will Just a line to write you both a very happy Christmas & a bright New Year it seems so soon to begin to write Xmas letters. But it takes all its time to reach England, I would have liked to have sent you something but we have been? paying up what Mrs Woodruff advanced so we are really only just finished, but I hope to later on. & also to write a long letter too as I think I told you we think of being away in Tasmania the end of Decr for 2 months and then I am supposed to have an easy time no cooking or washing up to do. & we are to have half our wages. As it costs 4£ & 8d for each person return. I hope dear you are both keeping well, many thanks for your nice letter Kit [?] in best love to you both. From your ever loving Lettie & Katie, please write again soon/Next time we write I hope to send you some snap shots

  • Classification

    Migration, Settlement - employment, Correspondence

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline


  • Type of item


  • Object Dimensions

    200 mm (Width), 280 mm (Height)

  • Keywords

    Correspondence, Domestic Work, English Immigration, Women's Work