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Mass-Observation Archive: Topic Collections

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TC 32: 4 boxes

Introductory Note

Most of the material in this Topic Collection is related to women's attitudes to war work and to the Women's Services. It does not include large sections of material on women in relation to other aspects of their lives. Topic Collections FAMILY PLANNING (TC 3), EVACUATION (TC 5), PERSONAL APPEARANCE (TC 18), HEALTH (TC 11), SHOPPING (TC 4) INDUSTRY (TC 75), and SEXUAL BEHAVIOUR (TC 12) are sources of further information on women in particular

DW. September 1980


32/1/A: War work for women

Article: "Working Women in this War" by TH, 29.11.39 for Industrial Welfare and Personnel Management, Vol XXI, No 253. One typed annotated draft and three printed versions

Memorandum: "Suburban Neurosis" from Mrs Fordham (undated) with suggestions for tapping women's energies

Article: "Women in Wartime" written by Observer SS, 4.1.40 (several drafts)

Article: "Women's Organisations under the Blitzkrieg" by SS, 20.10.40

Statistics about women in the WVS, ARP, WLA and in industry

Newspaper cuttings about women at work, 1939-40

Printed leaflet: "The Employment of Women", suggestions to employers by Ernest Bevin, 1941

Printed leaflet: "Registration for Employment Order 1941", notice to women who have registered

Report: Note on Women's Registration at Shepherd's Bush Labour Exchange (RL) 29.10.41

Report: Note on call-up of women (PN) 25.11.41 in Shotley Bridge, Durham

Report: War Jobs for Women exhibition at Wembley, (MT) 18.11.41

Report on a debate at a Warden's Post, (CF), 16.12.41: "There should be no conscription for married women"

Extracts from M-O diaries 1941-42 on the conscription of women

Article: "Women Park Keepers" (LB) 4.5.42

32/1/B: Proposals for the study of women in wartime

Correspondence relating to the study of women: Mrs Sieff and TH, Jan-Dec 1940 on the progress of the work which has been paid for by Mrs Sieff

Correspondence between PN and TH on the study, July-Aug 1940 with proposals for the structure of a report

Letters from Norah M Jeans of the International Women's News to TH, Sept 1940, with leaflets

32/1/C: Observations of women

Report on Dover, the BEF, with references to the reactions of women, 10.6.40

Article: "An Observer's experience trying to help her country" (DS) 19.6.40

Report from a Women's Hospital Ward at University College Hospital, London (PF) 21.6.40

Observations of women in Bolton (BA) 31.7.40

Observations in Mile End Baths-women's section, (NM) 1.8.40

Observations in Worcester (DA) 30.8.40

Observations in Slater's Cafe, Oxford Street, London, (SS) 30.8.40

Notes on women's health and nerves, Notting Hill Gate, (DH) 12.9.40

Further observations in Worcester (DA) Sept-Oct 1940

Report on Women's Exhibition of Housing and Planning organised by RIBA, London, (MS) 29.5.42

32/1/D: Women's publications

Schematic analysis of a small sample of publications aimed at a female readership (CP) undated

32/1/E: Women in the Forces

Miscellaneous notes on the Women's Services including newspaper cuttings

Observations of women in uniform, July-Aug 1940 and notes (CF) 29.7.40

Observations and overheard comments on the ATS and the WAAFs in Central London (CF) Aug 1940

Set of replies to four questions put to women about the women's services (CF) 12.8.40

Women's attitudes to women in the Forces (JS) 30.8.40

32/1/F: Male attitudes to women in the Forces

Interviews in the street with men (JS) 15.10.41

Report: Soldiers' attitudes to the ATS (JF), 10.11.41

Replies from male members of the Panel in the Army and in the RAF: attitudes towards the ATS and the WAAFs respectively, Oct 1941

32/1/G: Printed material on the Women's Services

Recruitment literature for the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutions (NAAFI), the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS), the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) and the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF)

32/1/H: The Women's Land Army

Newspaper cuttings 1939

Correspondence between TH and senior members of the WLA about getting access to information about the WLA

Report: A visit to WLA headquarters (SS) 29.11.39 and an account of an interview with the Honorary Director, Lady Denman; opinions on the organisation of the WLA from other WLA personnel

Letters and newspaper cuttings from the Farmers' Weekly sent in by a Panel member, Joyce Rowley, 1938-40

Typed extracts from the national press, 1939

Note on the WLA by TH, 4.12.39

Letter from Panel member in the WLA

Correspondence between TH and Lady Stapleton about the WLA including references to her idea of having a Boys' Land Army and with two articles by her: "Recollections of the Land Army" and "Land Army 1916-18"

Government leaflet "Recruitment to Agriculture"


32/2/A: ATS Survey: correspondence Oct-Nov 1941

Letters to Mass-Observation from Mary Gowing, Director of John Tait and Partner Ltd, the advertising agency working on ATS recruitment. Includes ideas for an ATS Survey, an article by Mary Gowing on the need for women to be involved in designing advertisements to appeal to women, notes on life in the ATS and recruitment figures

Letters (2) to TH from K Furse about recruitment

32/2/B: ATS recruitment advertising

Copies of newspapers containing ATS advertisements, Oct-Nov 1941

32/2/C: ATS recruitment advertising

Samples of proof advertisements prepared for the national press, 1941

32/2/D: Life in the ATS

Personal reports: extracts from the letters of an ATS woman to her boyfriend (a Panel member) with editorial comments from him. She is stationed in Leeds. No date

Extracts from letters sent to a female Panel member by her friend stationed in the ATS in Saltdean, Sussex, 1940

Report by Miss Groombridge of a visit to a ATS Depot and her interviews with ATS personnel, 6.6.41

Newspaper cutting about recruitment drive 15.11.41

Copy of letter from the mother of an ATS member to Sir John Wardlow-Milne, MP, criticising conditions in the ATS, 12.11.41

Transcript of a broadcast by Captain David Margesson, MP, about the ATS, 30.6.41

Confidential reports about the ATS: "The ATS and You" 6.5.41, written by an anonymous ATS officer; "Service in the ATS": information for the use of Interviewing Officers at Employment Exchanges, 22.5.41; details of ATS operational employments, Sept 1941?

32/2/E: ATS Survey: Women's attitudes

Indirect interviews with women aged 17-43 in 3 London Boroughs and in Worthing, 15-21.10.41 about their attitudes to the war, war work and the services, specifically the ATS. (LE, RI, CM, JS)

32/2/F: ATS Survey: Female Panel attitudes

Replies on duplicated questionnaires from women who belong to the Panel and from their friends: personal details, attitude to the war, attitudes to their jobs and past experiences at work, war work, attitudes to the Women's Services and especially to the ATS and to ATS advertising. All respondents resident in London, aged 17-43

Internal memo from BW to RF with a copy of the questionnaire

32/2/G: ATS Survey: Women's attitudes

Interviews with 180 women about themselves, their present work, registration for war work, the Women's Services, specifically the ATS and ATS recruitment advertising, expectations about the end of the war. 26 questions, conducted in London areas, Oct 1941 (CM, VW, JS, CF, MS, DG, VT, DH). Questionnaire included

32/2/H: ATS Survey: Women's attitudes

Interviews with 100 women about their attitudes to joining one of the Women's Services, which one appeals most and why, reasons why they couldn't/wouldn't join up and opinion about the ATS recruitment advertising. (Questions 21 onwards of the main questionnaire used above). Includes a copy of the questionnaire. Survey conducted in London areas, November 1941, (MS, CF, VW, DH, JS, VT)


32/3/A: ATS Survey: Women's attitudes

Interviews with approx. 100 women in Coventry (engaged in various occupations, including munitions work) about reactions to ATS advertising and whether they would want to join the ATS. Questionnaire included, Nov 1941 (CF, MS, VT, DH-all female Observers)

32/3/B: ATS Survey: results

Internal memos and reports on ATS survey with analyses of replies

32/3/C: ATS Survey: results

Tabulation sheets (HP, JF, EL)

32/3/D: WAAF: Women's Auxiliary Air Force

Personal reports, descriptions of WAAF exhibitions, and an article entitled "WAAF" by Mrs G Barker of the Ministry of Information, (US Division), 17.3.42

32/3/E: WAAF: Reports from an Observer 1941-2

Detailed reports written at regular intervals for Mass-Observation by NM, formerly a full-time Observer with M-O. The reports cover all aspects of WAAF life: social activities, training, morale, recorded conversation, sex-life, clothing, leisure, reading habits, attitudes to politics, the WAAF hierarchy and so on. NM stationed at Preston, Lancs from April 1941 until July 1941 and then in Digby, Lincs until Feb 1942

32/3/F: Letters from women welders 1942

Letters from a group of young women engaged in munitions work in Yorkshire (mostly Huddersfield) sent to their former instructor, Val Pearson, a young female member of the M-O Panel in Sheffield. Details of life in the factory, the hazards of work and various escapades


32/4/A: Women's organisations: general

Draft questionnaire to be sent to officers of the organisations

Lists of organisations with addresses and names

Details of some women's organisations compiled by SS who conducted the entire survey

Article: on the need for good women's organisations in rural areas to tap women's energies, written by Katherine Furse, 13.8.40

32/4/B: Regional reports on women's organisations

Report based in Yorkshire sent in by Panel member E Rowntree, Pickering, Yorks, Feb 1940

Interviews carried out by JS in London, 13.12.40 about women's membership of clubs

Survey with interviews by JJ, 17.12.40 made in working class districts of Watford

32/4/C: Women's organisations

Information collected by SS during 1940. Arranged in alphabetical order:

British Federation of University Women:

Notes on officers, organisation, description of meeting, 16.3.40 (SS), a printed leaflet and a copy of University Women's Review, No 29, Nov 1939

Citizens Advice Bureaux:

Notes on the origins and functions, letter 21.12.39 and explanatory leaflet

The Electrical Association for Women:

Letters from the Director to TH Jan and Feb 1940

The Housewives' Union:

Report of a meeting at Letchworth Garden City 15.1.40 written by Mrs Harrisson (TH's wife?)

32/4/D: International Co-operative Women's Guild

Publications, Popular Nutrition and the Housewife, Youth and Cooperation, Present Economic Tendencies-where does the Housewife come in?, Housewife's Programme, Mothers of the Future and various duplicated Bulletins

32/4/E: Organisations

Ladies Guild (of the British Sailors Society):

43rd Annual Report

Married Women's Association:

Leaflets-Marriage is News, Are Wives Slaves?, account of a meeting, 8.2.40 plus assorted notes

Mental Health Emergency Committee:

Correspondence, notes on organisation and leaflets

Mothers' Union:

Notes on organisation plus leaflets

National Council for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child:

Pamphlet: Twenty-one Years account of the history of the organisation and The Illegitimate Child-a challenge to Society plus other printed material

National Council of Social Service:


National Council for the Defence of Women and Children:

Duplicated circulars

32/4/F: National Council of Women of Great Britain:

Notes on the organisation, origins, officers, functions, opinions about pacifists, duplicated Annual Report, two copies of Women in Council, No 1 and No 8 and the Handbook, 1939-40

32/4/G: Organisations

National Federation of Women's Institutes:

Correspondence and notes

National Union of Townswomen's Guilds:

Notes on organisation, officers and correspondence

National Union of Women Teachers:

Note and letter

Personal Service League:

Printed material

Red Cross:


United Kingdom Alliance:

Notes on organisation and letters

Women's Engineering Society:

Invitation to 21st Birthday Celebrations with guest list, observation 4.3.40, newspaper cuttings of occasion

Women's Farm and Garden Association:

Correspondence, printed material and notes on organisation

32/4/H: Organisations

Women's Freedom League:

Newspaper cuttings, notes, descriptions of a talk 17.1.40 and duplicated Bulletin

Women's Guild of Empire:

Account of interview 29.8.40 and printed leaflet

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom:

Notes on attitudes to pacifists, notes on organisation, leaflet and pamphlet on history and aims

Women's Liberal Federation:

Notes, duplicated circulars and letter

Women's Parliament:

Letter to Naomi Mitchison (M-O Panel member) 21.11.41

32/4/I: Women's Voluntary Service:

Assorted leaflets, printed material including leaflets on knitting for the war effort, reports from DA in Worcester about local activity, July-Aug 1940; booklets with helpful information on ARP, children etc; confidential report from Lady Reading; notes, observations etc

32/4/J: Women in religious organisations

Report by SS on the effect of war on church organisations, 19.1.40

Assorted church publications

Completed questionnaire sent to the Women's Guild of the Congregational Union of England and Wales

32/4/K: Youth organisations for girls

Girl Guide Association

National Council of Girls' Clubs: printed and duplicated material (including material about camps), sample newsheets, notes on organisations

Mass-Observation Studies 1937-55

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