SOUTH AUSTRALIAN HISTORY PROJECT
HISTORY THROUGH THE EYE OF A NEEDLE
Pioneers and Palms: Three Generations of South Australian Embroiderers
Georgiana and Albert had five sons and four daughters, and all the girls excelled at needlework.
Alberta, the first child, was born at Paskeville. In her late teens she moved to Adelaide where she lived with an aunt while she studied with the prominent local artist William Ashton. She is said to have done many large oil paintings. Alberta was also a good pianist and was a popular accompanist for singers. After her marriage in 1913, she moved to a series of farming properties in New South Wales, and eventually settled in Cronulla, then a small village on the outskirts of Sydney. There, Alberta used her accomplishments as a needlewoman and dressmaker commercially. She had a shop built in the main street of Cronulla which was then a village (now a suburb) on the outskirts of Sydney; one window said ‘The Model Shop' and the other ‘Madame Georgette's'. Alberta also had her own workroom for the construction of her high-quality clothing in an era when a ‘model' was a unique design for an article of clothing made to the measurements of the wearer.
This waistcoat was made c1913 by Alberta Palm for her father, Albert. It was embroidered on the fronts in surface darning in two shades of brown with white French knots, on fawn huckaback style fabric. The fronts are edged with fawn grosgrain. The same fabric edges the four pockets. There are six mother-of-pearl buttons with brass shanks, which are held in place with split pins. There is an extra buttonhole to hold the end of a the watch chain. The back and lining are of cream linen.
Minnie was the second daughter and like her older sister, moved to Adelaide and lived with her aunt. She was also ‘adept at dressmaking and needlework'. Minnie returned to Eyre Peninsula after her marriage in 1913 where she regularly won prizes in the local Agricultural Shows for needlework. Minnie later moved to Victoria and remained there for the rest of her life. Her only daughter did not survive infancy.
Diosma was the third daughter and moved to Adelaide with her parents after the farm at Edillilie was sold. Diosma attended the School of Mines in Adelaide (similar to a present-day TAFE) where she came top of her dressmaking classes. She returned to Eyre Peninsula to live with two of her brothers, and met Stuart Humble there, who she married in 1934. Diosma was skilled at embroidery, won many prizes at country shows, and also did dressmaking and knitting. Diosma's daughter, Maggie, was born in 1940 and is the only surviving grand-daughter of Georgiana and Albert Palm.
Daphne Machin 1907-1999
Daphne was the last of Georgiana and Albert's children, and the only one born on Eyre Peninsula. She attended the School of Mines and got credits in the two year Dressmaking, Designing and Drafting course. Later she got top credit in the two year Weaving course at the School of Arts. Daphne was also an embroiderer.
Daphne was very active in her local community. She embroidered church linen for her local Anglican church (Church of Emmanuel, Wayville), served in the St John Ambulance Brigade and was secretary of the metropolitan branch of the Country Women's Association. She also studied theology, shorthand and typing, and piano and music theory.
Daphne was a member of the Voluntary Aid Detachment, and in this capacity, taught First Aid at the beginning of the Second World War, and then volunteered at Wayville military camp. Following her enlistment, she was attached to the 5th Australian General Hospital at Daw Park (now the Repatriation General Hospital).
After the war, Daphne completed her secondary education, matriculated and then gained an Arts Degree at the University of Adelaide while working part-time as a secretary. She then did her teaching qualification and began teaching at Birdwood High School in 1956. She taught at Unley High School from 1957-1962, and at Christian Brothers College from 1963-1964. Daphne married Thomas Machin in 1962.
Daphne was also an author; in 1978 she published Pioneers in South Australia : ancestors and descendants of Albert and Georgiana Palm. Without this book, much of this virtual exhibition would not have been possible.