Researching WW1 Land Girls

 
Women's Land Army, Fishergate, Preston Recruiting for Women's Land Army. Procession crossing the Railway Bridge with County Hall in the background. Source: Lancashire Lantern: Image Archive, item 4975

Women’s Land Army, Fishergate, Preston Recruiting for Women’s Land Army. Procession crossing the Railway Bridge with County Hall in the background.
Source: Lancashire Lantern: Image Archive, item 4975

Unlike for the Second World War, for which we have brief records of over 203,00 named land girls, there are almost no central lists of names for the First World War. A self-populated list has been recently started on the site which can be accessed here.

  • County record offices and local historical archives are always worth investigating for documents of the county Women’s War Agricultural Committee (1917-1919), and Women’s Land Army documents and photographs (1917-1919), along with contemporary local newspaper reports, held in central libraries. For a list of County Archives, please click here.
  • The Imperial War Museum (IWM) holds:
    • photographs
    • documents
    • some uniform items
    • first person accounts relating to Women’s Forage Corps (WFC), Women’s National Land Service Corps (WNLSC) and WLA service
  • The Landswoman: A list of winners may be found in reports of WLA competitions held in many counties. ‘Good Service’ Ribbons are listed by county in The Landswoman (of which some of the copies can be found here, the originals held at the IWM); WLA DSB recipients are also featured with photographs and brief details.
  • The First World War campaign medals index (The National Archives DocumentsOnline) includes a few cards for Women’s Land Army members who mistakenly applied for service medals, to which as members of a civilian organisation they were not entitled. (The reverse of the original card, held by the Imperial War Museum (IWM), should carry their address).
  • The National Archives series T has a few files of individual WLA members’ claims. Also:
    • MA 59/1 has a list of agricultural colleges training women
    • MA59/2 is a copy of the WLA handbook

Information taken from Tracing Your Service Women Ancestors – A Guide For Family Historians (2012). Chapter 18 is particularly useful in understanding an overview of women’s war work on the land during World War One.