Comparison of the Migrant Experience in Melbourne of Immigrants from Dublin 1851-1861 and Immigrants from Trieste 1954-1961

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Biasin, Brent Mitchell (2021) Comparison of the Migrant Experience in Melbourne of Immigrants from Dublin 1851-1861 and Immigrants from Trieste 1954-1961. Research Master thesis, Victoria University.


Over half the global population now reside in urban localities with cities having a profound impact on migration with a shift from rural-to-urban to urban-to-urban migration. Cities grew from the onset of the Industrial Revolution transforming the agricultural peasant into the city-dwelling proletariat. Historically most migratory streams have been rural-to-urban, with few city dwellers making the decision to migrate. Apart from London, cities provided few migrants to Australia and Melbourne. Two cities outside London that contributed large numbers of migrants to Melbourne are Dublin in the 1850s and Trieste in the 1950s. In the 1850s as Dublin faced external and internal issues, groups of Dubliners decided to migrate to Melbourne, a city experiencing rapid growth due to the Victorian gold rush. These nineteenth-century urbanites included professionals, merchants or trade-qualified people who arrived in a growing city, armed with urban skills and experience. In the 1950s almost ten per cent of Trieste migrated to Australia with a large proportion choosing Melbourne as their new home. The maritime city of Trieste sent trade- qualified and experienced Triestines to Melbourne to work in its burgeoning industrial and manufacturing sectors. This thesis analyses a sample of Dublin migrants who migrated between 1851 and 1861 and Triestine migrants who migrated between 1954 and 1961 and investigates the characteristics of urban migration across time. A prosopographical approach was used to analyse the Dublin sample revealing the history of the Dubliners, including where they lived, worked, their social lives and their family lives. Oral history in conjunction with prosopography was used with the Triestine sample and provided insights into the migrants’ experience and lives in Melbourne. Analysis of these two atypical sets of urban migrants revealed the factors that encouraged these migrants to choose to emigrate; how they settled once they arrived in Melbourne; and how their urban background influenced their settlement in Melbourne. These Dubliners and Triestines had achieved higher levels of education and possessed professional and trade qualifications above most Irish and Italian counterparts in Australia. Their urban background profoundly influenced their migration experience and how they settled in Melbourne. These two urban migrant groups are examined here in a comparative frame to discover the similarities and differences that occurred in societies through time and across space. Despite the difference in time between the two groups, this thesis argues that there are significant similarities between each, based on their urban background and how that influenced their settlement and placemaking. The similarities include their employment knowledge, urban experience, and their cultural and social background. This greater understanding of past urban migrations can be utilised with other urban migrations from the past, such as from Saigon after the Vietnam war. The knowledge can also be used to understand the systems required for future urban-to-urban migrations, which will increasingly become the norm in the future.

Additional Information

Master of Research

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4303 Historical studies
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords migration; migrants; Melbourne; Dublin; 1850s; 1950s; oral history; prosopography
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