Working With Historians
Since initially creating the website for my college project, I have continued to develop the site and link with other individuals interested in the work of the Women’s Land Army. I have been in correspondence with a number of historians on the topic, and have been working closely with two in particular, Stuart Antrobus and Dr David Wilson. Both have hugely advanced my thinking in terms of how I looked to develop my own research into the different issues relating to the Women’s Land Army. Through working with Stuart Antrobus, I have found out more about his extensive research into the Bedfordshire Land Army, the impact this has had on individuals trying to trace relatives in that specific area as well as learning about general research approaches for investigating the Women’s Land Army. Stuart is also contributing content to the emerging World War One section, which I have been focusing on this year. Working with Dr David Wilson has particularly opened my mind to the perspective of oral history, especially in analysing what insights can be gained from oral history contributions.
As I began linking with, and learning from, historians on the subject, I was also being contacted by people from around the world who were requesting information on the Women’s Land Army – right from advice on how to apply for the commemorative Veterans Badge awarded by the British Government, to relatives of historians passing into my keeping official journals and documents from the period to ‘archive’ on my website. This last point really got me thinking about my site at a much higher level, as being a central ‘virtual’ location where journals, documents, photos, recordings and accounts could be accessed from all around the world. Over the last few months, I have actively developed ‘The Archives’, containing original documents from the period, including magazines such as ‘The Landswoman’ (WW1) and ‘The Land Girl’ (WW2).
The Bigger Picture
As well as my own contact with historians and relatives of ex-Land Army veterans, I noticed a number of Women’s Land Army related events which seemed to be coinciding at a similar time on a bigger scale. Much to my delight, I too was able to get involved in Women’s Land Army related events.
- February 2012: I was contacted by the Yorkshire Museum of Farming to write a letter of support for their Heritage Lottery Fund bid to open a specific Women’s Land Army exhibition at the museum.
- May 2012: I was interviewed on BBC Radio Solent on the work of the Women’s Land Army.
- September 2012: An article, which Dr David Wilson and I had written, was published in the BBC History magazine on the topic of researching the Women’s Land Army.
- Autumn 2012: The BBC and Open University produced the documentary ‘Wartime Farm’, investigating on a practical level British farming during the war. Could this be interpreted as an early sign that this specific wartime area of agricultural history was becoming more of an interest to mainstream society?
- March 2013: I attended the official opening of the Yorkshire Museum of Farming’s ‘Feeding The Nation’ Women’s Land Army exhibition.
- October 2014: I attended the unveiling of the Women’s Land Army and Timber Corps memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
- June 2014: I discussed the First World War Women’s Land Army for Countryfile’s feature on women’s agricultural work.
- November 2014: I advised on an article on the First World War, published in Pride magazine for the areas of Market Harborough, Kettering, Corby and Oundle.
- March 2015: I presented on the First World War Women’s Land Army as part of celebrations for International Women’s Day at Lucy Cavendish College.
Along with the work being carried out by the Women’s Land Army Tribute to raise money for a permanent memorial for the Women’s Land Army, this all seems show what a serendipitous moment in time it is to meet the growing demand and interest (coming from a number of different perspectives and angles) in the work these women had undertaken – interest from historians to school students who were researching this topic.
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.
Find out more about the future of the website here.
Written by Cherish Watton, Website Editor and Historian, October 2013.
Updated in April 2014.