Fearless Females 17: Social Butterflies? More Martha than Mary

Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist blog presents Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month. #17 – Social Butterly? What social organisations or groups did your mother or grandmother belong to?

My first thought was “social butterly?” “My family?” Even Trove is unable to turn up stories of my mother’s or grandmothers’ involvement in such social events. One of my grandmothers died in her sixties, which of course I think is quite young as she was a similar age to me now. My other grandmother lived into her 80s but I have virtually no recollection of her even leaving the house. Surely she must have? I’m certain though that she was not involved in any social events or service organisations.

Perhaps not “social butterfly” in the generally accepted meaning of the phrase but nonetheless my mother has a history of service which evokes more Martha than Mary for those with a biblical background. The Catholic church has always been my mother’s linch-pin and she has been part of various committees within it as well as doing the church flowers and the like. She and Dad also did Meals on Wheels for some time too after his retirement. Throughout my school years she was also involved in supporting my schools in various practical ways.

Around the time I married and left home to live in Papua New Guinea my mother also took on a role as Commissioner with the local Girl Guides, of which I’d been a member for some years. She seemed to enjoy this activity but because I wasn’t around I didn’t really learn too much about what she did with them.  Before her own marriage she’d been part of the Women’s Air Training Corps learning aircraft identification etc during World War II and assisting with the library.

It’s interesting to see that this service heritage has passed down to me and my children as well, with engagement in various school or church activities over the years. Interesting, too, to know that this kind of parochial service stretches back to the 18th century in my mother’s family lines.

4 thoughts on “Fearless Females 17: Social Butterflies? More Martha than Mary

  1. Hello Pauleen,
    I am sorry to be leaving this message on your blog, but I could not find an email address for you. In the past you have written about your Gavin ancestors who were baptized in St. Catherine of Alexandria Catholic Church on Meath Street in Dublin, and I did not know if you had heard the news about the terrible fire which was deliberately lit in the church in January. My great-grandmother Jane Early and her twelve siblings were also christened in St. Catherine’s, and I was stunned when I read the news. Here are two links (Irish Times and Irish Journal) in case you would like more information. (http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2012/0105/1224309831009.html)
    I hope you don’t mind me sharing this information with you. Forgive me if you already knew of this tragedy.
    With kind regards,


    1. Thanks for letting me know Jennifer. What a terrible shame especially as it was deliberately lit. With such close family links you must have felt quite devastated.


  2. I wonder if women once were less likely to participate in activities outside of the home. I also can’t remember my grandmother belonging to any organizations. She didn’t drive and may have had no way to get to various activities.


    1. I guess the work at home was so much more onerous in those days and they didn’t have surplus time or energy. By the time life got a little easier perhaps they had lost interest as well as being restricted in how they got places. my grandmother seemed so old when I was a child but I suspect she was never a joining kind of woman.


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