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Did the First World War liberate British women?

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In this assignment I will be studying what effects world war one had on British women. I will examine different sources to reach a conclusion. I will describe what life was like for women before, during and after the First World War.

I will comment on the utility and reliability for each source I use. By the end of my assignment I will of reached a conclusion and state my opinion on weather I thought world war one had liberated British women.

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In source A1 the author describes how women went from working in factories to becoming housewives.Women workers gradually decreased from 1819, this was because child labour was gradually being restricted and so now people were realizing that the children needed looking after, this role fell to the women.

This role became very important, women had no way of getting out especially when Queen Victoria gave a statement saying “Let women be what God intended them to be, a helpmate to men.

” Everyone agreed with their role in life even the Queen.One in four married women were employed by 1911. The situation remained like this untill about 1914.

I would say that this source is reliable because it was written by a woman called Ann Oakleym who’s book “house wife” was published in 1974, she would have no reason to lie about her experiences and she witnessed how life was during that era.I would also say that this source is useful because it gives a lot of information about the gradual decrease in un-employment in women and how they managed to fight for legal rights. Describes from the dates 1760-1950, before, during and after the war.Source A2 describes the role of women before the war.

“A woman’s place was in the house caring for her family” men believed that women were not as intelligent as them and could not handle work that required leadership. The more well off women were not expected to work anyway. The working class women did work, mainly in the domestic service such as cooks and maids for those better-off families.I would say that this source would be useful if it had an attributi0n.

It doesn’t, we don’t know where it came from so we cannot comment on how reliable it is. We cannot tell wether it is based on fact or if it is an opinion from an inexperienced person, but based on other sources such as source 1 it gives similar detail to those that do have attributions, so some may consider it fairly useful but you cannot rely on it as a historical factSource A5 is from an autobiography written by Margaret Powell, “Below the stairs” talks about her experiences as a housemaid and how the Lady of the house considered her name un-suitable for her job. It shows how much disadvantage working class women had to the higher-class women and men. If you were a man your name would not be changed because simply of the reason that you are a man.

I would say this source is reliable because it is based on a woman who had first hand experience of life before the war and she would have no reason to make her story up.I would also say that this source is useful because it is a primary source from someone who experienced the life that we can only comment on. She describes in detail what life was like for a normal, average and middleclass woman living during that time.Source A8 is a timetable of a working class women’s average day and a timetable of a high-class women’s average day.

Through this source you can clearly see that their lives are completely different. For a start the higher class women depend on working class women to provide for their needs. This was very common during this time. The maids (working class) woke up about two hours before their mistress (higher class) to prepare everything ready for breakfast etc.

I would say that this source might be considered unreliable because it has no attribution, but it does fit in with what source A5 said which was reliable.It may be useful for a brief idea of life before the 1st ww but it would not be suitable for a historian because it is very short and brief and has no attribution.Source A12 is a picture of the famous Florence Nightingale It is a picture demonstrating her work as a nurse during the Crimean war. Due to this it began to make nursing more acceptable amongst middle class women.

Florence nightingale’s work opened up a whole new career for the British women.I would say that the source is not particularly reliable because it is a painting, which is portrayed through the eyes of the artist. (artistic licence)It may be useful as some backup to show how nursing became acceptable but no more than that.However, by the 1870’s there were some women who were not prepared to accept life as it was.

Source B1 talks about the suffragists and the suffragettes.The suffragists were putting great pressure on parliament to get more legal rights; they would do this through peaceful demonstrations. Some of the main arguments were demonstrated in magazines normally read by farmers and landowners. They would put their point across as much as possible for example they would argue that if they lived in a free country then why should some of the laws only belong to one sex and not the other? And how was it that for the more wealthier women, who hired male servants to work for them couldn’t vote but their male workers could? men would always come up with explanations or back up answers.

As for the suffragettes, they put their points across in a more physical and violent way. They would stand up with banners and protest and resort to violent issues to put their point across. These women wanted action taken sooner rather than later; they were not satisfied with the peaceful suffragist approach. The suffragette movement was born in 1903, the suffragettes at first relied on propaganda to gain support.

This source does have an attribution but, we are only given the names of the writers, we are not given a reason for why they wrote it and who they were. Based on my own research about the suffragists and the suffragettes I would this source does describe what they do clearly so I would say that it is a reliable source.This source is useful to people who do not know about the suffragists and the suffragettes or useful to those who want to know more. This source has helped my understanding but I do not think that it would be useful to an historian because it cannot be used as evidence towards any argument, it just basically describes what the suffragists and suffragettes were.

Source B6 talks about a women suffragette who threw herself under the Kings horse at the Espom races. She went by the name of Emily Davison she was fatally injured and died. Many thought that what she had done was stupid but the suffragettes called her a “martyr” and held a public funeral for her in London.Source B6 would not be reliable in the sense that because it had been written by “The Times” news paper.

The editor job is to influence public opinion if he told a lie he would loose his job but they bend the truth and influence the public readers by their own opinion or what they want the public to believe.This source is useful because it shows what some women were prepared to do to get recognition and change the ways in which they were treated. We can guess that this properly had a big impact on many people. This incident happened in June 1913 before the war.

Source B7 is a response to what happened at the Espom races. It was written obviously by a male. He talks about how stupid it was do what she did and not only did she kill herself, she could have killed the jockey and he says that what she has done will not impress the general public.I would say that this source is reliable because it is someone’s opinion and why would someone want to make up something that someone said.

I would say that it would be useful in the sense that we can see what men thought of Emily Davison.Source B11 talks about how women suffragettes suffered in prison when they refused to eat. Mary Leigh, a women suffragette describes how she was pinned down by two wardresses and had a tube put in her nose, forcefeeding her because she refused to eat. She describes how painfull it was saying that her eardrums felt like they were bursting and how she had a horrible seering pain in her throat.

Iwold say this source is reliable because it was written by a suffrogette who suffered the consequences of refusing to eat. It wold be pretty hard to make up a story like that if there was no evidence that this was going on. So even if she did lie there were women who did suffer like this. Besides why would she lie because it wouldn’t get her anywhere.

I would say this source is useful because it shows the consequences that a suffragette would have to go through if refusing to eat which was common because women wanted to put their point across This source show how desparate or determined these women were to get recognized.Then, in 1914 the great war changed everything. Women’s roles as housewives were about to change.Source C2 is written by a woman who we do not know the name of, but what is written suggests that she is quite young.

She talks about what women did to help during the war and how winning the right to vote was a national victory. She explains why they voted for a government that was against womens causes, she says that it was because the country was their country and it belonged to them and not the government, so basically it didn’t matterwat party they voted for the said that they could basically do what the like.Iw ould say this source is usefull because it explains in more detail what we alredy know plus it is from a womans point of view, but it may not be as reliable because we don’t know who wrote it but we do know that it is from a book called “unshackled” that is a good sign because it shows that somebody else used it, it would be more reliable if we knew weather an hisrorian used it, but it is most likely to be telling the truth because the same subject has been feature elsewhere for example on Encarta.Source C3 talkes about the women suffarage movement and how womens employment went up rapidly.

The anti-suffragist sentinent was clearly visible in 1914. This was reversed due to the large amount of women workers helping to contribute in the war effort.I would say this source is usefull because it points out how women gained more power due to the effort they put in during the war. I would say this source is reliable because it has an attribution.

Source C8 is a paragraph written by a woman who visited a munitions factory. This woman goes by the name of Mrs HumphryWard, she talkes about how the women dressed, worked and their attitude to their work. She talks about the long houres they worked and points out what the superintendent says “even though they are not as strong as men the make up for it with good spirit”.Iw ould say this source is both usefull and reliable because it points out that even though there was discrimination against women they were still prepared to take on a mans job and even do it with good spirit.

It is reliable too because the woman is reporting on what she sees so not only is this a primary source but she would have no reason to lie.Source C11 shows the amount of women working in different jobs between 1914-1918. It shows a great increase of women workers by 1918 compared to 1914.I would say this source is usefull because it shows how women employment went up from 1914 and by 1918 it had increased rapidly.

This shows that women were starting to get recognition.I would say this source is reliable because even though it has no attribution its information looks to have been based on fact looking at how they got the numbers of women’s employment.As a result of their contribution to the war in January 1918 women had gained more respect.Source D1 is a statement made by Lloyd George, the Prime Minister of Britain in 1918.

He says that if it hadn’t been for the women of Britain it would have been impossible for Britain to wage a successful war. He comments on the enthusiasum and skill that women had, which got them through the war.I would say this source is reliable because it is a statement made by Britains Prime Minister which also means that it is a primary source.I would say this is a usefull source because it shows that women played an importat part in the war and that Britains Prime Minister realized this which was a big step for women because it was a time of change, men were starting to realize that women played an important role in Britain as well.

Source D3 is a statement from Herbet Asquith, who was Prime Minister before the war who also apposed giving women the right to vote. He talks about how women were a great help to Britain during the war and he had missjuged them and they had worked just as hard as men during the war. He admits this, which is confessing that he was wrong and he now says that he would find it impossible to restrict women from having the right to vote and being allowed to speak out.I would say this source is reliable because like source D1 it was a statement by the previous Prime Minister the only difference is that he was the Prime Minister before the war and in source D1 it was a statement by the Prime Minister after the war but it is still an important statement and it is a rimaru source.

I would say tis surce is usefull because it shows how the attitudes of men towards women changed after the war; this source is a perfect example.Source D4 is a table showing the number of women employed compared to men using percentage. It shows the percentage employed in 1914, 1918 and 1920. Looking at the table it suggests that in 1914 only 24% were employed, that is less than a quarter of Britains population.

By 1918 this had increased vastly due to the contribution of women working during the war. By 1920 it had dropped to 28% this was more than they had started with but ad still gone down from 1918 this was because Britain’s economy suffered depression and women were the first to loose their jobs.I would say this source is reliable because it looks to have been based on facts but it would be more reliable and useful if they were government figures.It is useful because it shows what women had achived after the war but it shows that the situation did not remain like this as I said in source A1 they had taken two steps forward and one step back.

Source D5 talkes about the lives and jobs of women during the war and after. Source D5 describes how during the war women got paid higher wages than they would in domestic work that women would have worked in before the war. Jobs such as bus drivers, ambulance drivers and policewomen were just some of the jobs women were inclued in during the war.It then talkes about women after the war losing their jobs because the men had come home from the war and wanted their jobs back.

There was still some discrimination against them, they were the first to loose jobs but on the whole their lives had improved and they were a lot more confident and could earn wages that a man could earn.I would say this source is reliable because from what ive read on other sources it describes it in the same detail.I would also say it is usefull because it tells us why employment of women dropped after the war.Source D9 show pictures demonstrating what women had achived at certain dates.

The first piture shows a woman by a fence with a banner saying “Votes for women” which demonstrates women getting the vote in 1918. The next picture shows the first women M.P, Nancy Astor in 1919. The next two pictures show how some women broke away from the crowd during the 1920’s they had their own individual style and they would smoke in puplic these women were known as “Flappers”The next two pictures show how the role of working class women did not change much after the war.

I would say this source is reliable because it is a simple form of what other sources have described, the pictures are based on fact.I would say this source would be fairly usefull if you were trying to put information across in a simple form, perhaps in a lower school textbookConclusionAfter studying the sources that I have used I have come to a conclusion that the First World War did liberate British women to a certain extent. Before the war women were looked down upon, less than a quarter of British women worked in 1914. Britain was a man-operated country and even today it still is.

Women before the war were considered to not be as intelligent as men and they were left to care for the children. Women did not even have the right to vote.When world was one broke out men went off to fight leaving women to do their jobs. Women managed their jobs well and surprised most by their good attitude and skill, they got paid higher wages and at the end of the war in 1918 they won the right to vote.

As time went on women employees stated to fall again because Britain went through depression and the first workers to go were the women but even so women could be more flexible with the type of job they wanted and could go and get a degree. They had a lot more rights after the war, they had earned it and they had also earned the respect of most men.

Cite this Did the First World War liberate British women?

Did the First World War liberate British women?. (2017, Nov 11). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/did-the-first-world-war-liberate-british-women/

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