Mary Booth and British Boy Immigration: From Progressivism to Imperial Nationalism

  • Bridget BrooklynEmail author
Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)


The history of British boy immigration to Australia in the early twentieth century shows how ‘imperial’ values could be combined with strong nationalism. This was the case with Dr Mary Booth, a Sydney physician and social activist. Her early career in eugenics also shows the influence of Progressivism, the US-originated reform movement beginning in the late nineteenth century. Always conservative, Booth appears to have been galvanised by the Great War into greater faith in both the British Empire and Australia, which was channelled into postwar British boy immigration aftercare. Brooklyn makes an important contribution to the history of Australian interwar nationalism through her analysis of Mary Booth’s activities in support of British boy immigration as an example of the melding of ‘traditional’ imperial nationalism with Progressive eugenic principles.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Humanities and Communication ArtsWestern Sydney UniversitySydneyAustralia

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