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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Schauer, Amy (1871–1956)

by Donna Phillips Ryan

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

Amy Schauer (1871-1956), cookery instructor, was born on 2 June 1871 in Sydney, daughter of German parents William Schauer, cooper, and his wife Katharena, née Hahn. She was educated in New South Wales, trained at Sydney Technical College and after qualifying in domestic science taught privately. Miss Schauer then taught mainly cookery at the Brisbane (Central) Technical College from February 1895. She also gave classes in invalid cookery at the Mater Hospital for a fee of ten shillings a student. Schauer became an outstanding influence on the education of Queensland girls. In 1900 Emily Baxter dedicated her book, Artistic Confectionery, to Amy as an exceptional ex-student.

With her sister Minnie, who had accompanied her north, Schauer wrote popular cookery books which were used in Queensland kitchens well into the 1960s. By 1909 three books were prescribed on the syllabuses of the departments of domestic science and art in Queensland technical colleges: Cookery for Invalids (1908), Fruit Preserving and Confectionery (1908), and Theory of Cookery (1909) soon republished as The Schauer Australian Cookery Book. The first of these was specially designed 'to enable students, whether as amateur or professional nurses, to intelligently co-operate with medical attendants in the proper dieting of their patients'. Her recipes appeared in such widely read publications as Sapford's Queensland Almanac and the Queensland Farmer's Gazette.

Schauer's contributions to the war effort of 1914-18 included the preparation and presentation of courses in basic field, camp and invalid cookery for members of the Australian Army Medical Corps. As part of their annual participation in the Royal National Association's Brisbane Exhibition, Schauer, staff and students from the Central Technical College in 1917 staged half-hour cookery demonstrations, which included an invalid's tray, fish breakfast and war dinner. Recipes from such demonstrations as 'Afternoon Tea' were used to make cakes, sweets, puddings and biscuits to be sent to serving Queensland soldiers.

From 17 January till 17 March 1917, she was also teaching cookery at the newly established Nambour Rural School, travelling from Brisbane by train one day a week. During the influenza epidemic of 1919 she gave public lectures on invalid cookery. Schauer held the position of senior instructress, domestic arts section in the domestic science branch, Department of Women's Work, from 22 January 1922 until her retirement on 31 December 1937.

In retirement she compiled simple textbooks for use in rural schools and rewrote her Schauer cookery book 'to bring it into line with the latest developments on food values and principles of nutrition'. Her community involvements included demonstrations for the Mothercraft Association, the judging of cookery competitions at fêtes and other charity efforts, and working for the paper, Boy's Free Breakfast. She and her sister also founded the Aged Christian Women's Home which she conducted from her private address. In August 1940 she donated proceeds from public demonstrations to the Australian Comforts Fund.

Amy Schauer died at Strathfield, Sydney, on 13 August 1956 and was buried with Congregational forms at St John's cemetery, Ashfield.

Select Bibliography

  • Central Technical College, Brisbande, Cookery Demonstrations (Brisb, 1917)
  • Home Economics Centenary Committee, Home Economics Education 1881-1981 (Brisb, 1981)
  • G. Logan, A Centenary History of Home Economics Education in Queensland 1881-1981 (Brisb, 1981)
  • S. Addison and J. McKay, A Good Plain Cook (Brisb, 1985)
  • Daily Standard (Brisbane), 4 Apr 1917, 29 Oct 1919
  • Daily Mirror (Brisbane), 29 Oct 1919
  • Courier Mail (Brisbane), 20 June 1938
  • Staff card for Amy Schauer, Central Technical College (Queensland State Archives)
  • Syllabus for 1909, 1914, c1920, Dept of Public Instruction, Brisbane (Queensland State Archives).

Citation details

Donna Phillips Ryan, 'Schauer, Amy (1871–1956)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 29 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

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