A Historiography on Women Workers in World War I

Essay by billygoatsgirlUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, December 2006

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When doing history, we should always remember that there are many different ways of determining how history happens. Historians do not always agree on why some events happened. In considering women in the First World War, we must consider how women during the war contributed to the war effort. Through choosing four sources and by focusing on how the history of women workers in world war one was handled, this essay will show how each historian dealt with this topic. To understand the women workers during the First World War, four primary sources were selected. Working-Class Culture, Women, and Britain, 1914-1921 by Claire A. Culleton examines working-class women in the Great War, however, Culleton does so with the intention of writing "a study of the cultural and social consequences of British working-class women's engagement in the First World War," incorporating "the private and the official, domestic and national experience."

Culleton's intention is to transform our understanding of the nature and extent of war as a cultural and social category that constructs myth (of class and gender) while at the same time manipulating and stimulating class divisions. Women Workers in the First World War by Gail Braybon, of course explores women workers, however, Braybon looks more closely at how and why women were employed, and in what ways society's attitude changed towards women during the war. Braybon's book investigates society's attitudes towards women and tries to "show the remarkable consistency of male attitudes towards women's work... and the way which such attitudes affected the women themselves." Suffrage Discourse in Britain during the First World War by Angela K. Smith describes the relationship between the suffrage campaign in Britain and World War I. In the chapter titled Suffragists and War Work, Smith explores how women's work may have actually postponed and...