How far did the role and status of women change 1914 and 1928?
We are studying how far the role and status of women changed between 1914 and 1928. It includes different aspects of life for the women; it will also refer to how and why life changed during the war.
In the early 20th century women’s lives were a repeated routine, which unfortunately was the same every single day. Women were not allowed to work unless she desperately wanted a job. She would have to work extremely hard to become a nurse or a teacher but the pay was very low. The women could also work as servants and worked in the textile industry.
During the war women did jobs that they had not been allowed to do before it, this was because all the men had gone to the war to fight and the government needed workers. There were only women left to do it. Many women had reliable well-paid employment for the first time. Women were, for the first time ever, paid an equal amount of money as the men, whilst they were doing the ‘men’s work’. The money gave the women greater freedom and more importance in British Society.
At the beginning of the war many of the women were given nursing jobs.23000 women served as nurses close to the fighting and a further 15000 volunteered to serve as assistants in the Volunteer Aid Detachments. Women were dealing with the sick and wounded the dying and the dead. The work was hard and unpleasant. At first the government did not allow women the same role in the armed services as well as nursing and industry. In 1917 it gave in. from spring of 1917 there were many jobs in the armed services which women were able to do as well. 100,000 women served in the various sections of the armed services: Women’s army auxiliary corps (WAAC), the women’s royal naval service (WRNS) and the women’s royal air force (WRAF).
Women in the WAAC were thought to be of a lower class. They quickly gained a ‘bad’ reputation for sexual misconduct with the troops in France. But the 21 reported pregnancies among the 6000 WAAC personal in France in 1918 suggest that these rumours were some what exaggerated.
Not every job filled by a woman was a replacement for a man. In 1915 the army blamed its defeat on a lack of artillery shells. The result of this was a huge increase in the production of shells by private companies. New jobs were created in these munitions factories, and by the end of the war over 900,000 women had filled them. However, this was very dangerous work. Explosions could kill and maim the workers. The chemicals used in the explosives caused workers to vomit and eventually turned their skin yellow, giving these women the name ‘Cannoves’. Nevertheless, Munitions work was very well paid; therefore many working-class women were willing to do this work.
When the war ended men came back to claim their jobs which meant that many women had to give up their jobs. Unfortunately many other jobs disappeared. There were fewer jobs in domestic service. By 1921 the economic decline meant that the number of women in work was actually lower than 1911. However, in 1919 the sex disqualification (removal) act was passed. This opened up professional careers to women, allowing them to become police officers with the same powers as man, as only certain areas of the country had allowed women to become police officers during the war.
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In the 1900’s women were expected to clean the house, look after the children and feed their husband and children. The only subjects they could study at school were the female’s ones such as cooking cleaning and childcare. They were not allowed to get to university either only men could.
There were no methods of contraception and they were not allowed to divorce their husbands on the grounds of adultery (sexual relations with someone other than their wife or husband). A husband could divorce his wife for having sexual relations with someone else, but this was not a good enough reason for the wife to divorce her husband. The law supported this inequality, when a women married she had to hand over any property and money she had to her husband.
After the war in 1919 being female or married was no longer allowed to disqualify someone from holding a job in the professions or civil service. Women became independent this all happened because the women proved that they were able to do just as much as the men. They started to wear fashionable clothes, they were now wearing make up in public. They also started to smoke and drink in public. In 1923 the women were given the same right as the men to seek divorce on the grounds of adultery. In 1923 and 1925 the property act allowed married women to hold and dispose of property on the same terms as their husbands. In 1925 widows and dependent children were entitled to pensions and benefits.
Women were unable to take part in councils, elections or anything to do with politics. At the beginning of the 20th century only a few women were ready to protest about the unjust way that they were treated. Men thought that women did not have the abilities of men and that they could not be trusted.
Women’s movement were formed to help the injustice. The suffragettes’ formal name was the women’s social and political union. This was first founded by Emmeline Pankhurst in 1903, with her daughters Christabel and Sylvia. The suffragettes thought the suffragists took things too slowly. The suffragist’s formal name was the National Union of women’s suffrage societies. They were founded in 1897. The leader was called Millicent Fawcett. Their main tactics were persuasion, meetings and petitions to parliament. The suffragettes wanted to see results, and fast. They did not mind getting arrested. It attracted sympathy and showed that they were serious about getting the vote.
In 1905 Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney heckled Sir Edward Grey, who was speaking at meeting in Manchester, and ended up in prison for a week. They thought the Liberal Government after 1906 would be sympathetic. They were encouraged by the 1907 qualification of women act, which let women become county, and borough councillors, or mayors.
By 1912 the Liberal Government had agreed with the idea of some women voting, and tried to put it into their Plural voting bill for parliament to discuss. But the speakers refused to let them add it.
The suffragettes were really angry and so their protests got far more extreme and violent; they chained themselves to the railings outside Downing Street outside Buckingham palace. They physically assaulted politicians. The prime minister, Asquith was attacked on a golf course. Suffragettes tried to tear off his clothes and beat him with dog whips. They also destroyed paintings in the national gallery, and smashed shop windows. Suffragettes made arson attacks on post boxes, churches and railway stations. They even bombed the house of Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
In July 1915 Christabel Pankhurst led a march of 30,000 women who demanded ‘rights to serve’. This was soon granted. In January 1916 conscription was introduced. The army could no longer rely on volunteers. Men were ordered to join up. This meant there was no need for women to do the jobs that the men were leaving.
Women became conductors on buses and trams, very few were allowed to become drivers because the driver pay was higher than the conductors were. The men were worried if women became drivers it would cause their pays to be reduced. For the first time women were allowed to join the police. They could be the chimney sweeps and run bakeries. As early as 1916 a woman drove every ambulance in London.
After WW1 the representation of the people act was passed in 1918 as a reward for their hard work. Not all women got the vote. The ones who did had to be over 30 and a householder or 21 and married to a householder. The same act gave men over 21 the right to vote. Women were also able to become MP’s. Constance Markiewicz, a Sinn Fein Candidate was elected in 1918 but did not take up her seat. The first women did not take up her seat. The first woman to actually become an MP was Nancy Astor who was elected in 1919. The vote did not go to all women over 21 until 1928, when women finally had got equal rights.
I think that the world war one led to great changes in the role of women in Britain because before the war women had absolutely no freedom, during the war the women took over the men’s job to show that they were worthy and equal to men.
Before the war the women were not allowed to smoke, drink or go out with men. But after the world war they wore shorter skirts and short hair became fashionable, the fashion changed during the war because their clothes had to be practical for their jobs, the women went out with men without chaperone, they smoked and wore make up in public for the first time. They also got to do jobs with decent pays such as: conductors, buses, trams, police, chimney sweeps and worked in bakeries.
Civil Rights in the USA!
After studying sources A and B, the source that I think the most useful is source A. This is because it was taken at the time of the event, rather than written after the event and because it is a photograph which means that it is also more reliable as a photo can not show a lie.
Source A is a photograph of a black student on her way to enrol at the all-white central high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, September 1957. in this photograph we can only see one black person and we are also limited as we can not see outside of the photograph.
However the advantages of this source are that, we can see the whites behind the black student are angry and hostile. We can also see all the old and young people in the background and the way that they are treating the black student.
Another advantage of a photograph, source A, is that the US people can actually see with their own eyes at what the blacks are treated like and what is happening with them.
Source B is part of a article taken from Chicago Daily Defender, which is a black newspaper. This source gives another view of the events that took place at the Central High school in Little Rock. But this source was written about a year after it had happened
As this was written a year after the event took place, it could have been possible that things may have changed politically or socially in that time space. And they could have changed their views on what happened.
Another disadvantage of this source is that it may not be reliable because it was written by the blacks and so it maybe bias. This means that it would then be of no use.
On the other hand this may be more useful that source A because we learn more new things about the event from this source. New things that we learn from this source are; the African Americans were courageous, there were nine students not only one that went to the white college. We learnt more about the place that it happened in, we found that the whites were actually violent and dangerous and the police was involved in this case.
Although Source B gives more information Source A would still be the most useful to a historian as it is more reliable and easy to believe because you can see it with your own eyes what is happening in the photograph.
In the 1960’s black Americans disagreed among themselves about the best way to try to gain equal rights.
I think that sources E and F are quite reliable to an historian studying the civil rights movement in the USA in the 1960’s. This is because black people gave both of the statements/speeches and why would they say that they are making progress when they aren’t.
Martin Luther King gave the statement in source E. Martin Luther King wanted to help all the people that were suffering from poverty. He said that race and economic issues were closely connected.
However, what Martin Luther King did believe was that if you were a poor white person then you should work close together with the black people. The statement in source E was taken from his very famous book ‘chaos or community’. He died a year after this book was published.
Source E was written in 1967 in a book because everyone wanted to know how Martin Luther King achieved the blacks their civil rights with not even using any violence.
Source F is from a speech made by James Foreman, who dedicated 50 years of his life to getting the blacks their civil rights, vote rights and human right causes.
Source F is a primary source because the speech was made at the time. It explains how the blacks united because of the whites being racist to them, as it is said in the speech “racist white Americans”.
The blacks were no longer afraid to demand their full rights. He said, “We are tall, black and proud”. They said that they are going to attack the “western White world”. They became confident and would do anything to get their rights.
The speech mainly explains what Malcolm X wanted to do. Malcolm X was a Muslim leader who was also very confident and ready to use violence to get their rights.
Malcolm X said that King was too ‘moderate’. Malcolm became popular because of his speeches. This was when another black group got involved. This group was called ‘the black panthers’. This group said, “Blacks should not defend for themselves”. This group also used violence. They also carried around guns. The whites were frightened of this group. I think that both sources are quite reliable because they are both primary sources and was recorded at the time of the event.
“the civil rights movement achieved a great deal in the 1950’s and 1960’s”.
the sources that do not agree with this interpretation are;
source C, this shows the number of Negroes that were in schools with whites in 11 southern state in 1956-57 and beside it shows the numbers in 1961.
Source does not agree with the interpretation because it says that Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia were the most racist southern states and that there were no Negroes in whites schools at any time. But in the rest of the states there was improvement but only a little. I think that this source C is quite reliable as it is from a history text book that was published in Britain in 1984.
The second source that does not agree with the interpretation is source I. Source I shows the percentage of black people voting age registered to vote in the south. This source does not agree because although It shows a bit of improvement in a few of the states, North Carolina and South Carolina still stayed as bad as before. Florida was also one of the worst states. I think that this source is quite reliable because it is from the official figures.
The third source that does not agree with the interpretation is source J. Source J is a film called ‘Mississippi Burning’ which is a secondary source. This film was produced in the USA in 1988. it deals with racial prejudice in the south.
The film is all about a police deputy and how he also worked for the KKK that were against the blacks. The KKK wore white masks and beat up innocent black people, telling them to go back to where they belong. They did not accept Jews or Negroes.
The film shows the bad ways that the blacks were treated. For example: it shows that the blacks were not allowed to drink from the same water fountains as the whites, they had different washrooms, they were not allowed to be buried in the same cementry as the whites and if a white person was seen with a black he would be shot. The white men also put windows of the black houses on fire. They would throw bombs at the houses and blow them up.
I think that this source is quite reliable because it is not bias and shows the truth about the white men treating the innocent blacks badly. But the source also shows the white police did do their job properly and helped the blacks.
One of the sources that supports the interpretation is source A. This is because source A is showing the blacks had now started to be allowed to do their education at the same colleges as the whites.
The second source that supports the interpretation is source B. This supports the interpretation because it is saying that the blacks were helped by the police to get to the college without being harmed this shows that attitudes were changing towards the blacks and they were getting some help.
The third source that supports the interpretation is source D. Source D is the speech that Martin Luther King made about how they made a difference without violence. This March was done to end segregation for civil rights.
The other sources that support the interpretation are sources E, F, G and H.These all support the interpretation because they show that the attitudes of whites changed towards the black and there was no more segregation. They also show that the blacks were given the votes and were able to become politicians.
I think that these sources are quite reliable because they are mostly parts from speeches that leaders made and so they are primary sources, which means that they were written at the time of the event.