Left out in the cold: Village women and agricultural labour in England and Wales during the First World War

VERDON, Nicola (2016). Left out in the cold: Village women and agricultural labour in England and Wales during the First World War. Twentieth Century British History, 27 (1), 1-25.

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Official URL: http://tcbh.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/...
Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.1093/tcbh/hwv039


The Women’s Land Army, formed in 1917, has featured prominently in recent academic and popular accounts of First World War Britain. This interest reflects the attention the WLA drew from politicians, government reporters and contemporary commentators during and immediately after the war itself. Yet, the WLA, which at its peak had 16,000 women working on the land, was just one strand of wartime female agricultural labour, an auxiliary to the thousands of village women who worked throughout the war. Whilst the WLA received numerous plaudits for their participation, village women were ‘left out in the cold’, as one correspondent to The Times put it, when it came to their wartime service. This article will return the rural woman worker back to centre stage. It will revisit the often contradictory wartime estimates of the number of women working in agriculture in England and Wales before moving on to examine how regional farming structures and seasonal demands for labour shaped the use of women workers. It will show that even at the very local level, here utilising records from the Bedfordshire Women’s War Agricultural Committee, demand and supply issues produced a fractured pattern. It will show that concentrating exclusively on the WLA leads to a distorted picture of women’s work on the land during the First World War.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Twentieth Century British History following peer review. The version of record [insert complete citation information here] is available online at:http://tcbh.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/11/30/tcbh.hwv039.full.
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Humanities Research Centre
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1093/tcbh/hwv039
Page Range: 1-25
Depositing User: Nicola Verdon
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2015 10:33
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 07:49
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/11026

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