Those that stayed at home – a look a women and children during the First World War
In Britain, the First World War had an impact on the lives of everyone - young or old, male or female. The horrors soldiers faced while away fighting is well documented, but less has been said about those that stayed at home.
See also other World War One features at ahrc.ukri.org/WW1 and visit our 'WW1 Centenary news and events' page.
‘Being young on the home front’ was a project in Greater Manchester that examined the war from a young person’s perspective - both today and 100 years ago. What was the emotional impact? How did the loss of fathers, brothers and uncles affect them? How did they feel about having to work?
The project was led by Dr Marcus Morris from Manchester Metropolitan University.
Watch some of the children that were involved in the project talk about their experiences in this film:
With the majority of men going away to fight, women were called upon to fill the jobs they left behind. For example, the Isle of Sheppey had a naval dockyard, aerodrome, army barracks and a number of essential industries like glue making. The ‘Women of Sheppey’ project is looking at the key role that they played in helping to support the war effort, with the findings being turned into a play and an exhibition.
Similarly, Greenwich was home to the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich which expanded into a multitude of munitions factories, employing 80,000 workers, with women making up around a third of the workforce. ‘Here come the girls’ researched the impact of the war on the Royal Borough of Greenwich, specifically looking at the role of women.
‘Every poster tells a story’ looked at the posters that were produced during the war. It examined posters featuring women to see how they were used to recruit men to fight the war. The project also looked at how posters were used to help encourage women to leave behind their traditional jobs and take on more challenging roles to help support the war.
Read the blog 'Finding the women like us in the First World War' by Dr Julie Moore, from the University of Hertfordshire, where she talks about the ways in which community researchers are engaging with some of the less well-known stories of the everyday experiences of women during the First World War, and calls for community researchers to put themselves on the record.
A project called ‘No Man’s Land’ looked at the work of female photographers during the war. Led by young people, they produced a book that brings to life the story of the First World War through the eyes of women. The book features images that have never been published before, including photographs taken by Mary ‘Fluffy’ Porter who joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.
Following the Battle of the Somme in 1916, a women’s peace crusade began in Glasgow. It had a faltering start, but eventually spread across the country during 1917 and 1918. By the summer of 1918, there were over 123 crusades run by a network of women suffrage, socialist and pacifist activists who were appealing to local working-class women. Watch the 'Women's Peace Crusade' video produced by the project that researched its impact in the North West.
Early this year, the conference on ‘Voices of women in the Great War and its aftermath’ explored the multitude of different experiences of women in war. Read the blog from Professor Maggie Andrews from the University of Worcester about what they discovered.
Banner image: 'Beyond the Trenches' blog: Three members of the Women’s Land Army raise their hoes in salute. Copyright: IWM (Q 30678).
Read more features in this series at: ahrc.ukri.org/WW1, in the news and events section.