Domestic life is by definition ephemeral. Nonetheless, we can marshal much evidence from material culture, oral histories, living wage and housing commissions held before the War to create a snapshot of domestic lives in 1913. The choice and design of homes and their fit-out meant a great deal, financially and psychologically. Most of these homes were in cities: they contained more than one third (37%) of the population at this date. The loan schemes that enabled the purchase of homes in all Australian states by the 1920s have their roots in the Workers’ Housing Acts, for example that of Western Australia of 1913. This was a dynamic period of social progress, marked by the professionalization of housecraft, cookery and mother-craft within the domestic science movement that emerged here and in the United States of America from the 1890s. New attitudes appeared at this time in Australian domestic architecture in terms of internal planning, the size of windows, the access to outdoors and the management of light. The possiblity of living in a flat was purposefully raised for the first time, and the role of worker’s housing came under increasing scrutiny.
 Total population of Australia in 1911 was 4,492,000. Sydney’s population was 630,000; Melbourne 589,000; Brisbane 139,000; Adelaide 190,000; Perth 107,000; Hobart 39,000. W.D. Borrie, The European Peopling of Australasia. A Demographic History 1788-1988, Australian National University, Canberra, 1994, p.183.
 In New South Wales, the Government Savings Bank advanced 75 per cent of the valuation in 1913. Working class suburbs such as Balmain and Newtown had only 25 per cent owner-occupiers compared with 75 per cent in a suburb such as Canterbury. Robin Walker, ‘Aspects of working-class life in industrial Sydney in 1913’, Labour History, v. 58, May 1990, p. 39.
Accompanies an exhibition exploring Australia before the Great War (WW I).
Canberra: National Museum of Australia , 2013. 121-133 p.