The Ayahs’ and Amahs’ Home: A History

Part II: The Home at Hackney It is the Hansons then (“aka” the Rogers), who appear in front of the door to the imposing new premises, along with the four sari-clad women, in 1900 (figure 2.1).  Christian Hanson and wife Amina were listed as “Manager” and “Matron” respectively of the Ayahs Home on King Edward’sContinue reading “The Ayahs’ and Amahs’ Home: A History”

The Ayahs’ and Amahs’ Home: A History 

This year a new English Heritage Blue Plaque will be unveiled at 26 King Edward Road, Hackney, in London, to commemorate the Ayahs’ Home that operated there in the opening decades of the twentieth century. This public recognition of a major part of Britain’s imperial history has been some time coming. Rozina Visram, historian ofContinue reading “The Ayahs’ and Amahs’ Home: A History “

She Travelled: The Portrait of Joanna de Silva, the Indian Ayah at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

My encounter with Joanna de Silva, a nursemaid from eighteenth-century Bengal, India, was rather serendipitous! I came to know of the portrait of Joanna through a research network of scholars and enthusiasts committed to unravel the history of Indian ayahs and Chinese amahs, the native nursemaids in the service of European employers in colonial India.[1]Continue reading “She Travelled: The Portrait of Joanna de Silva, the Indian Ayah at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York”

Travelling Pictures and Blurry Visions: Photographs of Chinese Amahs

Our project seeks to trace not only how ayahs and amahs travelled across the world but also how images of these women circulated. Pictures of ayahs and amahs travelled as illustrations in books, photographs enclosed in letters, ethnographic postcards exchanged as curiosities, and as paintings purchased for display in homes and galleries. Today these imagesContinue reading “Travelling Pictures and Blurry Visions: Photographs of Chinese Amahs”

Thomassee: The first Australian ayah

Many of the stories of the travelling ayahs and amahs that we are learning about today concern those women who travelled between Asia and England during the period of the British Empire. As part of this project, however, we are looking for stories of women who travelled south from India and China, to Australia. TheseContinue reading “Thomassee: The first Australian ayah”

A Japanese Amah

The following blog tells the story of a uniquely transnational amah called Tuk-San. [1] Tuk-San was a Japanese woman who travelled with the Hillier family between China and England at the turn of the twentieth century. Her story is contributed by historian and author Dr Andrew Hillier. ‘I came to Europe from Peking for theContinue reading “A Japanese Amah”

Her Devoted Ayah

Our project on the Travelling Ayahs and Amahs looks at families and family life embedded in histories of empire. In this first of a series of blogposts on the project, Victoria Haskins shares the stories from her own family, that sparked her interest in this history.  In August 1858 Margaret Ann Goldie, a young womanContinue reading “Her Devoted Ayah”