Rural History 2015

Panel 62

Organizers: Nevala-Nurmi, Seija-Leena (1); Beaumont, Caitriona (2)

Affiliation: 1: University of Tampere, Finland; 2: London South Bank University

Title: Rural Home Fronts: Women's work, voluntary action and wartime experience

"We invite panelists interested in rural women, their lives, work, voluntary action and wartime experience on the home front. The contribution of rural women in particular has too often been omitted from histories of war. In the countryside women had to run their farms and continue with their own household duties despite the disruption of war. Significant numbers of women had to volunteer to undertake work normally reserved for men following the recruitment of men into the armed services. Moreover rural women were also confronted with caring for evacuated children, the elderly and other displaced and vulnerable individuals during wartime. In addition to undertaking these new roles and responsibilities, countrywomen continued to live their everyday lives enjoying rural life and engaging in social and leisure activities through a range of local organisations and women’s groups. A number of these organisations succeeded in giving rural women a voice during wartime and allowed women to make claims on wartime governments to ensure that the experience of war was not unduly negative for the women and children left behind.
Caitriona Beaumont’s paper will argue that a more in depth study of voluntary women’s organisations and their activities during the war not only draws greater attention to their wartime contribution but also raises interesting questions about the meaning of women’s citizenship and voluntary action during wartime. Seija-Leena Nevala-Nurmi’s paper explores the Finnish women’s voluntary defence organisation, Lotta Svärd. It will highlight the ability of this organisation to channel the agency of rural women and in doing so enhance their lives during wartime.
Although these papers explore the experiences of rural women during the Second World War, we welcome contributions from any historical period that considers how rural women experienced war and how the impact of such experiences shaped their future lives. "



Chair: Ella Viitaniemi, University of Tampere, Finland

Paper 1: The role and activities of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes in England (WI) during the Second World War

Caitriona Beaumont, London South Bank University, UK

Paper 2: Lotta Svärd Organisation on the Rural Home Front in Finland, 1939-1944

Seija-Leena Nevala-Nurmi, University of Tampere, Finland

Paper 3: World Wars of the twentieth century, in memory of Polish women from rural provinces

Małgorzata Dajnowicz, University of Bialystok, Poland


Suggested deadline for sending completed papers 31 july 2015

© 2014 Rural History 2015