This website, the national online archive for commemorating the work of the Women’s Land Army and Women’s Timber Corps, was started back in 2010. This page shares a short history of the evolution of the website.
A college project
I first came up with the idea to produce a website on the work of the Women’s Land Army in summer 2010. During the summer, I was given the opportunity to research any topic for my Extended Project Qualification. I used this opportunity to follow-up on a single line I read in a class textbook about ‘how women took the place of men in the fields’.
After reading memoirs, newspaper articles and history books, I soon came to learn about the varied work undertaken by women, who helped to grow the country’s good. In the words of the WLA director Lady Denman: ‘The land army fights in the fields. It is in the fields of Britain that the most critical battle of the present war may well be fought and won’.
This was the first time I’d carried out independent research – and I was hooked. I found it fascinating to research the varied work of the Land Girls and then to turn information found in libraries, archives, and museums into a website.
At the time, I was particularly interested in how women took on men’s roles and jobs. Women were coming onto the land and challenging stereotypes, proving through their hard work and determination – even when some faced discrimination on farms and in local rural communities.
Publication, presentations, and press appearances
After attaining full marks, several people encouraged me to publish the website. Since then, the site has grown into the national online hub for the commemoration of the work of the Women’s Land Army and Women’s Timber Corps. The website offers general information on the WLA, photographs, videos, and memories from hundreds of women who worked on the land and in the forests during the Second World War.
In July 2017, I graduated from Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge with a First in History. My final year dissertation focused on the experience, representation, and memory of the Women’s Timber Corps under the supervision of Professor Lucy Delap.
In 2018, I was honoured to win the Royal Historical Society’s inaugural Undergraduate Public History Prize for my work running the site.
Over the last few years, I have discussed the work of the WLA on television (highlights include BBC Breakfast and Countryfile) and radio. I have also given several presentations around the country, including for museums, local history societies, and women’s groups. I continue to run the website in my free-time, whilst researching a history of scrapbooking in Britain as a PhD student at the University of Cambridge.
Click here to view the archive of New Year messages, sharing the progress of this website, and work on the WLA and WTC each year.
I run the website in my free time and have funded the web hosting and other associated costs, such as travelling to gain access to content to share online. Any additional funds raised are reinvested. If you are interested in supporting the work of the website, any donations would be gratefully appreciated.
Written by Cherish Watton, WLA Historian, October 2013. Updated in August 2022.