[The historian] will row out over that great ocean of material, and lower down into it, here and there, a little bucket, which will bring up to the light of day some characteristic specimen, from those far depths, to be examined with a careful curiosity.
Topics of the Day today include creating some kind of Empire Parliament to better run the Empire, and the election of women to Hospital and Charitable Aid Boards. The recent elections saw two women receive the highest number of votes, and one – Dr. Platts-Mills – was returned to the board with great enthusiasm.
100 years later I suspect you would not fare well in a Health Board election if you were known for “practical eugenics” that advanced “the race”. The final part of her speech given in December 1912 strikes me as very odd coming from a highly educated woman: “every day of school life forced the girl further from the goal to which she must ultimately return – the goal of motherhood.” This sin of sexless education was the fault of men. I’m not sure that the 1913 New Zealand man was at the forefront of thinking on female education, but I could be wrong. It is certainly true that the educated woman has fewer children than the uneducated one, but – unless you want a large family – this is generally considered a good thing in the “modern” world of 2013. There were certainly enough young men to go around in 1914 when they started machine gunning each other in Gallipoli and France.
Dr. Platts-Mills was an extraordinary woman. In 1900 she was one of only five female doctors in New Zealand, and the first female doctor in private practice in Wellington.
Tall and striking in appearance, an excellent public speaker and a trenchant writer, Platts-Mills used her talents generously in community affairs, especially those relating to the health and welfare of women and children. For six years from 1912 she was house physician to the children’s ward at Wellington Hospital. She also served for two successive terms on the Wellington Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, topping the poll in both elections.
Let’s see what else we can turn up on Dr. (Mrs.) Platts-Mills.