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Department of Premier and Cabinet

Grace Soltau

Significant Tasmanian Women icon

First president of the
Tasmanian Woman's Christian Temperance Union

Grace Soltau tributePresented to Mrs Soltau
Colonial President of the WCTU
from the members of Northern Tasmania
1893, MIZPAH

Grace Soltau (born Tapson) arrived in Launceston in the 1880s, with her husband George, a Christian Brethren missionary. The last of her nine children, the twins Theodore and David were born in Launceston in 1890.

She became the first president of the Tasmanian Woman's Christian Temperance Union after Jessie Ackermann's revitalizing visit in 1892. She strove to encourage the WCTU members, saying 'I get many confessions of ignorance and inability' but 'I believe our Union is a great education for women with a niche for everyone'. Nor did she downplay the difficulties: 'We are sure to receive many rebuffs, sneers and incredulity that women will have the courage to continue'. However, a sense of Christian duty compelled them to leave the private sphere and help those women and children in unhappy homes.

Grace was responsible for Launceston's first successful rescue home.

She presented a Tasmanian progress report at the first inter-colonial convention in Victoria.

The Soltau family left for Sydney in 1894, before travelling onto the United States. The Northern WCTU presented Grace with a large silver platter to honour her contribution to their work. The platter has been handed down through Theodore’s family given his ‘Tasmanian’ connection.

After the death of her husband, Grace returned to England in 1896 where she helped run a children’s home. In her later years she lived in Colchester, England with her physician daughter Dr Eleanor Soltua , who was director of a Tuberculosis hospital. Grave died in Colchester.

References:

Alexander, A., 'A Turning Point in Women's History? The Foundation of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union in Australia', Tasmanian Historical Studies, Vol.7, No. 2 (2001)

Jordan, R., White-Ribboners: the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Tasmania, 1885-1914, Unpublished BA Hons thesis, University of Tasmania, 2001

This entry was researched and written by Wendy Rimon, B.A.

Picture and family information provided by Grace’s great-granddaughter, Miss Eleanor Soltau of New Orleans Louisiana USA.


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