End of the line; end of the month; well, women’s history month that is! It is so important to remember women’s history; not just in March, but throughout the year as if we don’t remember it and talk about it it will be lost to history. This has been an interesting month to delve into my interests as an historian of Irish dress, and by extension the history of Irish women.
As women returned from their war duties in the late 1940s many once again subsumed the role of wives and mothers that they had prior to 1939. Others did not and went onto lead professional, independent lives fueled by their sense of ‘freedom’ that serving in various armed forces gave them. Indeed, women leaving the various Allied auxiliary services were even offered ‘Housewife Classes’ if they were to be married soon after been demobbed alongside such practical classes as typewriting, secretarial skills, and options for going to University. Read on to see how a return to domesticity, and in some cases women never left the domestic sphere, affected Irish women in the early 1950s.
The Women’s Voluntary Services was publicly launched on 16th June 1938 with the aim to recruit women who could help in the eventuality of war. These women would eventually between 1939 and 1945 assist ARP wardens, escort evacuees, provide mobile canteens, organize fundraising drives, manage clothing depots, and assist the local authorities in any manner needed. The WVS members quickly became recognizable with their distinctive teal green uniform consisting of a dress, beret, great coat, scarf, overalls, and skirt suit on more formal business. Read on to find out how the WVS was set up in Ulster and how the uniform was a key part of a woman’s role as a member of the WVS.
This week my blog posts will concentrate on the lives of Irish women during World War Two. This is a particular area of interest as I have a long time interest of the roles of women during World War Two; particularly the lives of ordinary women on the British or Irish Home Front. This blog post looks at what effect rationing had on the lives of Irish women and how they managed to continue as ‘normal’ despite shortages and stress over loved ones away at war.