Women looking into leisure

Woodhorn Museum, Ashington
Picture by Jane Coltman
Woodhorn Museum, Ashington Picture by Jane Coltman

Kirkley WI

Newcastle University’s School of English is doing a project about the impact changes in the workplace had on women during and after the First World War.

With men being conscripted for the armed forces, this led to women taking on jobs men had always done in the past. This then enabled women to gain access to leisure activities outside the home.

The project is being run by a small team of researchers — Dr Stacy Gillis, Dr Emma Short and Dr Paul Wright.

They requested that volunteers from Women’s Institutes in the North East might like to apply to attend their initial meeting, which was taking place on March 14, at Woodhorn Museum, near Ashington.

They had such a great response that there were three days instead of the planned one day.

We were given talks on what was available in the archives and how to research information, along with a guided tour around the storage facilities behind the scenes at Woodhorn.

And we learned how documentation is sorted, catalogued, logged and preserved in temperature-controlled separate storage rooms.

We were given lunch and advised when the other workshops for research were taking place, during the four weeks in April, firstly at Gateshead Library, then the Discovery Museum, the Lit and Phil, at Woodhorn again, and during the first week in May at Newcastle Library.

The group heard that we would have Dr Paul Wright attending each week, at each venue, to help us and give advice on our research.

The outcome of all this research into Women’s Leisure Activities during the First World War, which of course coincides with the starting up of the Women’s Institutes throughout the country, will form a physical, digital exhibition and the opportunity to work with a local theatre company to develop performance workshops.

It is a very exciting opportunity, and we will have further updates as the research progresses.

If you would like any further information on this project email fww@ncl.ac.uk