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Using the information in the sources and your own knowledge, in what ways were the lives of people at home affected by the first world war?

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Introduction

Using the information in the sources and your own knowledge, in what ways were the lives of people at home affected by the first world war? The First World War introduced many new opportunities and experiences for the lives of the people at home. Some of these changes benefited people and some did not. A lot of women had to become stronger and take on tasks like never before. Acts such as DORA were introduced, as were propaganda and censorship among others. People were suddenly face to face with new ideas and prospects. Women were a major group of society that were affected and arguably the most. Everything about their lifestyle changed. The one area in which it changed the most was in employment. Before the war, few women worked as domestic servants only and were generally seen to look after children and the house. But with an ever increasing number of men needed to fight the war, thousands of job vacancies arose with nobody to fill them except women. This wasn't a problem for government departments who immediately employed 200,000 female clerks. However the manufacturing industry created problems. Employers were very reluctant to take on female workers. Especially as they were taking 'men's jobs'. They didn't think that the women were capable of such labour and feared trouble from the unions. The unions didn't like the idea of women employees; they feared that when the men came back from the war, women would have replaced them in their jobs. ...read more.

Middle

These posters were affective, proved by Source C, which shows a huge queue of men from all classes standing outside a recruitment office in December 1915. But buy 1916 the government had to introduce conscription- Source D from 1916. All men between the ages 18 and 40 who were unmarried had to register for active service. This was later extended in 1916, so every man of military age had to register. By doing this it meant that the number of volunteers was falling but demands for troops was still rising because the dead and wounded needed replacing. The volunteer system was causing problems, which were helped solved by conscription. Britain's agriculture and industry were suffering because so many miners joined up. Some even had to be sent back from the war to provide essential supplies of coal. Another problem was that not all parts of society took an equal share of the burden. In the end many people welcomed the government taking control and introducing conscription. However this was not the case for everybody. Fifty MPs voted against it in Parliament. There was also a group of people who didn't believe in war and didn't want to fight for religious or political reasons. These people were named 'conchies'. Some conchies were sent to prison, where they were badly treated. Others were sent to work in field hospitals or as stretcher barers. In 1914 the government passed the Defence of the Realm Act later known as DORA. This gave the government huge control over people's lives. ...read more.

Conclusion

Overall the evidence shows that the war benefited some people but not others. Women gained the right to vote and work and became seen as more equal to men than before but some women were still treated badly and forced to work in such terrible conditions that they suffered from diseases and in some cases brain damage. The poor seemed to have benefited from the war the most because as Source A, written in 1990 by a historian, suggests there was in 'improvement in people's diet and a decline in the death rate'. This being because many of the poor found themselves in permanent employment'. However the rich did not benefit as a cartoon from 1917 about ' The Brown Family's Four War Christmases' suggest. The family starts off looking forward to the war with one soldier and male servants. Then as the years go by their clothes deteriorate and food gets considerably less so that by the end of the war the family members are part of the war effort. The sources and information suggest that people were affected by the war in nearly every way possible. Large things affected them politically, socially, industrially, food shortages and smaller things like only being able to fly certain types of kites and not being able to buy a stranger a beer. But also completely out of the ordinary things like censoring newspapers and women in the workforce. It seems like the government controlled every action taken by a person and that is why the lives of people at home during the first world war were so drastically affected. Naomi Biddle Coursework October 2002 ...read more.

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