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In Search of Catherine - The Same Grimacing and Irrational

In Search of Catherine - The Same Grimacing and Irrational

Sorry this event has been and gone


  • Thu 25 Jan ’18, 12:00pm – 1:00pm


Te Ahumairangi Ground Floor, National Library, cnr Molesworth & Aitken Streets, Thorndon, Wellington


All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Free Admission


National Library

'The Same Grimacing and Irrational Creature As Ever…’

Not all women in the 19th and early 20th centuries had happy and successful lives. This is a presentation about Catherine Lawry who emigrated from Cornwall in 1864, and spent over 50 years in the lunatic asylums of early New Zealand.

Alison J. Laurie Research Associate, in Gender and Women's Studies VUW and Valerie E. Davison knew nothing of the lives of their paternal great-grandparents William and Catherine Lawry other than that they had emigrated from Cornwall to New Zealand in 1864.

The first cousins then began a search to complete the family records - and found a wealth of surprising and startling information, all of which was available from official sources. This demonstrates how even carefully hiddEn secrets leave a written trail through the records of the state.

They found that their great-grandmother Catherine Lawry was committed in 1873 to Sunnyside Lunatic Asylum in Christchurch, and remained in asylums until her death in 1923 at Seaview Lunatic Asylum in Hokitika.

Altogether she spent over 50 years as a patient in the lunatic asylums of early New Zealand, never seeing her husband or her 5 children again.

Booking not required.

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