Christiane Susanne Augustine (Augusta) Zadow (1846-1896), trade unionist and factory inspector, was born on 27 August 1846 at Runkel, Duchy of Nassau, daughter of Elizabethe Hemming and Johann Georg Hofmeyer, gardener, who were married next year. Educated at Wiesbaden and, on a scholarship, at the Ladies’ Seminary, Biebrich-on-Rhine, she became a companion and governess, travelling through Germany, France, Russia, Siberia and England.
Just over four feet (122 cm) tall, she was warm-hearted, alert and fluent in several languages. Having seen women reduced to ‘veritable beasts of burden’, on settling in London in 1868 she worked as a tailoress and helped oppressed female clothing workers in the East End.
At the register office, Westminster, on 30 May 1871 Augusta (as she now styled herself) married Heinrich Christian Wilhelm Zadow, a tailor and a political refugee from Germany.
Seeking a just society, they embarked with their 3-year-old son in the Robert Lees as assisted migrants bound for Adelaide. Arriving in 1877, they lived at Goodwood. Augusta laboured tirelessly to assist the increasing number of Adelaide’s female workers in the newly-mechanised clothing trades.
To overcome the injustice of their penurious wages, she planned for structural change. Although a proposed women’s co-operative clothing factory was not achieved in her lifetime, she was the major force in establishing the Working Women’s Trades Union in 1890: she was its foundation treasurer and, from late 1891, a delegate to the United Trades and Labor Council.
With Mary Lee and David Charleston, she drew up a log of wages and prices for use in Adelaide.
She investigated complaints about women’s wages, work safety and sanitary conditions, and gathered evidence for a council sub-committee on sweating.