As 2017 draws to close, it provides an appropriate time to reflect on some key developments relating to the Women’s Land Army and Women’s Timber Corps over the last year.
On the website, Stuart Antrobus and I have continued to mark the first day of every month with collages of photos. This year we decided to cast some light on Land Girls and Lumber Jills at play. Government and personal photographs of women at parties, picnics, and reading (of which to name just a few), provided a window into the way some women chose to spend their precious leisure time. Next year, we will continue with our monthly images…though you’ll have to wait until 2018 to find out our theme.
The Landswoman Archives
2017 has also witnessed the completion of the online archive of The Landswoman, where all issues can now be read online. Website visitors from across the world can flick through the pages of this First World War publication to explore many aspects of women’s work on the land. I hope this will be invaluable to people who want to immerse themselves in the world of the Women’s Land Army, which marked 100 years since its formation this year. Though the First World War Women’s Land Army had approximately 23,000 women, compared to over 100,000 in the Second World War, the organisations’ First World War origins were important not only for sustaining food production, but also for setting the foundations for women’s greater involvement in agriculture.
Following the centenary of the WLA’s formation, the work of the Land Girls and Lumber Jills has continued to attract much interest from the media. Towards the end of 2017, the BBC’s Women at War included a feature on the Women’s Land Army, with a great interview between Edward Fox and Iris Newbould. This year has also seen the publication of the first popular history book solely on the First World War Women’s Land Army, Holding the Home Front, by Caroline Scott. In the realms of theatre, No Finer Life, has portrayed the experiences of a Somerset Land Girl and will be continuing its tour next year. Novelists have also taken Lumber Jills and Land Girls as their inspiration, such as Shelter by Sarah Franklin and Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves by Rachel Malik.
On a personal note, I have enjoyed feeding into some of these programmes on the WLA, including the BBC’s Women and War, Heir Hunters, and on Lunchtime Live for Radio Cambridgeshire. In the realms of academia, my third-year dissertation on Women’s Forestry Work in Second World War Britain was both a rewarding and challenging experience to write. I enjoyed presenting on a chapter of this research (Fellings, Photos, and Feelings) at the University of York at their conference, Bringing Conflict Home, which received a positive response and helpful feedback. Ultimately, my dissertation contributed to receiving a First Class Honours in History from Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge, of which I am thrilled.
Thank you again to everyone who continues to give support, whether through website or via social media. Many thanks go to Stuart Antrobus, Dr Lucy Delap, Catherine Procter, and my family who continue to play a vital role in my work on the WLA and WTC.
Sending all best wishes for a happy and healthy 2018.