One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters –
an ancient proverb.
The Sydney Morning Herald,
Wednesday 3 September 1947, page 3

In Australia we observe Father’s Day on the first Sunday of September – this Sunday. It is a day for people to show their appreciation for fathers and father figures. Father figures may include stepfathers, fathers-in-law, guardians (eg. foster parents), and family friends.

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Some things about Father’s Day don’t seem to have changed much over the years. The same presents, the same attitudes – all are evident from articles and advertisements from newspapers and magazines around the country from early 1900’s.

It is often a fascinating exercise to ‘travel back  in time’ by looking through TROVE.

What has changed is the role of fathers and their place in the family over the past century. Society has changed enormously – with families, gender roles and expectations having changed significantly .

Newspapers and magazines reflect the society they were published for and in. In the articles and advertisements that I found for Father’s Day it is readily apparent that not only gifts have changed since the early 1900’s .

Some things haven’t changed – the perceived consumerism of such days is a feature of articles and ‘Letters to the Editor’ through the years.

In one of the main city stores a figure symbolic of Dad is seated athrone, a Crown surmounting his head — King for a day. Surrounding him is a bewildering range of articles, any of which would make an appropriate offering on, Sunday next. All the stores are catering in like manner for the projected obeisance and gift offerings from wives, mothers, daughters and sons.

It may be the sentiment that counts first of all, but Fathers’ Day will lack due significance in any household unless greetings are accompanied by something in more tangible form.

The Daily News (Perth, WA), Wednesday 2 September 1936

To read the full article click here.

One of the first articles I found on Trove that mentioned Father’s Day was a poem in the Byron Bay Record of Saturday, 3 July, 1909. Living in or near Byron Bay, all four of my paternal great grandparents and  my both my paternal grandparents would have read that article!

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To read the full poem click here.

The origin of Father’s Day

The American origins of Father’s Day are explained in an article in the Launcestons Examiner of September 3 , p. 6 . Click here to read the full article.

Feelings towards Father’s Day during the war years combined love and patriotism. Read this article in the  The Horsham Times – Victoria,  Tuesday 3 September 1940.

Socks, Jocks and Ties

Ties were always popular as gifts!
Ties were always popular as gifts!

And then there are the gifts! The gifts mentioned often reflected the economic climate of the time. Ties seem to be a recurring theme throughout the decades.

Father will need to show lot« of moral courage to wear some of the ties selected by his family, judging by some purchases seen this week.

Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton, Qld.
Wednesday 3 September 1947

The same article ( written post-World War 11) mentions the lack of socks. Frustration at the effects of rationing is apparent.

Socks, despite promises to the contrary, remain very scarce.

Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton, Qld.
Wednesday 3 September 1947

By 1951 socks were more plentiful, and obviously still a Father’s Day ‘favourite’. The advertisement certainly would not be printed today because of the word used to describe the colour black! The advertisement below featured in The Mercury, Hobart, Tasmania, Tuesday 28 August 1951

Very different days!
Very different days!
More ties!
More ties!

Commercialisation

Just as people today often worry about the commercialisation of significant days such as Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day these same concerns were frequently expressed in ‘Letter to the Editor‘ columns

You surely know it is Fathers’ Day on Sunday? Or don’t you. look at the advertisements?   That’s how you discover when Father’s’ day comes round -when you are, asked to buy a suitable gift, a purse, a pipe, a shirt, a tie, studs – whatever, is it that Dad hasn’t got that we can give him .

He doesn’t really need any thing, just now, but we must . .

Oh, so, that’s it, is it? Do you think Dad thinks so, too? It is good to feel that there are countless fathers who certainly merit honourable and loving recognition and appreciation; But, does a Father’s -day foster such appreciation- especially when the day is commerclalised as it is?
Williamstown Chronicle
Friday 31 August 1951

The son looks like a handful , judging by the expression on his face!
The son looks like a handful , judging by the expression on his face!

Finally, as stated in The Daily News of Perth WA, on Tuesday 27 August 1935, page 4
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