Welsh Women’s History 1900–1918

Mrs Blodwen Williams, Ynys–y–bŵl washing the pavement outside her front door, 1930s.

Women in Mary Ann Street, Cardiff in 1893.

Women in the Land Army working on the Gelli Cadwgan farm, Builth Wells, at harvest time in 1917.

The voices of women in Wales have largely been absent from its historiography, both as writers of and participators in its history. Publications such as the collection of historical essays Our Mothers' Land, whilst illustrating this imbalance, have laid the foundations for further research. The need to teach women's history as a seperate subject is in itself an acknowledgement of this deficiancy. One reason often cited for the absence of women's history from the school curriculum is a lack of resources. It is this issue that this resource aims to address.

Drawing in the main from the wealth of archive materials at St Fagans National Museum of History, this pack is an attempt to present visual, oral and written resources dealing with women's experiences between 1900-1918. It is only a small selection of the materials available but one that we hope will help you reconstruct a picture of the past, and enable you to dwell on the diversity of women's experiences.

The Photographs

The photographs focus on different aspects of women's lives. They include paid and unpaid labour; respectable recreations (e.g. chapel, choir and eisteddfodau); sports and entertainment; welfare, poverty and protest; and experiences of the war. A limited amount of information concerning the photographs has survived. Where the name of the sitter/s and the place and date of the photograph are known, they have been noted.

The Oral Accounts

Oral history can play a central role in unfolding the events of the past. It lends a personal perspective to local and national issues and events.

The selected extracts feature both Welsh- and English-medium speakers, and transcripts of the original interview. Every effort has been made to convey a variety of experiences from different locations within Wales. The background of the people interviewed varies, as does their experiences. Kate Roberts, the Welsh novelist and owner of her own press, and Cecil Lewis, born in Morriston, recollect their mothers' toil, whilst Mrs H.M. Walters of Llwynypia and Mrs Kate Davies of Llandysul recall their own life experiences.