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Naughton and Sister Imelda

A closer look at one of our conference papers

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A closer look at one of the talks that will feature in our online conference on May 20th and 21st. Tickets available now via Eventbrite:


Talk Title: They Were Soldiers, These Women: A Women’s Army Corps Officer in the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force

Talk delivered by Patrick Naughton


The family’s recent discovery of primary documents (letters, diary, etc.) from one of my ancestors who served as a Captain on the staff of General Dwight Eisenhower as he commanded the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) during World War II (WWII) highlights a unique perspective of the war.


What makes this Captain’s experience so distinctive is the fact that they served in the Women’s Army Corps. Marcella Naughton’s two years with SHAEF provided her a front row seat to meet, witness, or experience almost every influential person or event in the European Theater of Operation. Naughton’s personal story shines a light on an underappreciated American experience in WWII: that of the 210,000 female officers and enlisted soldiers who honorably served their nation during the conflict. It also presents a unique viewpoint on SHAEF operations, which up to this point have primarily been documented from a male perspective.


The current desire to achieve true diversity and inclusion in western militaries and society at large makes this article especially poignant to discuss and publish now. I addition, her issues with Post Traumatic Stress after the war will also speak to a whole generation of warriors from the past twenty years of conflict – men and women. The first draft of the article is complete and currently sits at 12,898 words with endnotes.

Biographical information about speaker:

Patrick Naughton is a U.S. Army officer and a Military Historian. He is currently serving as a Legislative Liaison to the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C. Naughton is a recipient of the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award, a former Interagency Fellow, and a Congressional Partnership Program Fellow with the Partnership for a Secure America. He holds a Master’s degree in History from the Army Command and General Staff College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He has published in several venues and his work can be found at:

Bolckow's Ladies Football Team.

More details about our Women in Wartime Conference: Women’s Football in World War One

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Picture above – Bolckow and Vaughan 1913 (Dorman Museum)

Continuing a look at some of the papers and speakers in our forthcoming ‘Women in Wartime’ Conference.

You can find out about all the speakers and book your ticket here:

The following paper will be delivered by Martin Peagam.


Two Cup Finals and then Banned for Life: women’s football in World War One

50 years ago the English FA rescinded a ban on women playing football.

100 years ago women were banned from playing football.

104 years ago 30,000 spectators gathered to watch an all-women football cup-final at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough.

World War One brought women into the workplace out of necessity. As soon as that need was gone, women were sacked from jobs they had proved very competent at.

World War One also brought women into football grounds previously reserved for men. Not as spectators, but as players. But they were too successful and popular. And so, they had to be banned.

The story can be told through the emergence and demise of the Munitionettes Cup.

A football cup competition created in response to the popularity of competitive women’s football in the North East of England, the Munitionettes Cup saw major football grounds in North East England filled to capacity with spectators, watching women who only a few years earlier would not have even kicked a ball.

Drawing on stories from Teesside, this presentation looks at how women came to play in two cup finals, and represent their country in international fixtures at sport, then saw them discarded by the sport’s governing body.

It also examines what motivated the players, including how one woman laced up her boots in memory of her brother and boyfriend, after both died serving their country.

Picture – Women Furness Shipyard 1917 – Teesside Archives

BIOGRAPHY – Martin Peagam.

Popular local history researcher, speaker and guide in Cleveland and Teesside.

Secretary – Cleveland and Teesside Local History Society

Chairman – The Captain Cook Birthplace Trust

Coordinator and Contributor – Local History Month Middlesbrough and Stockton

Member – ‘The Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway’

Member – ‘The Battle of Stockton Campaign’

Member – Community Steering Group High Street Heritage Action Zone – Middlesbrough

Co-presenter – CVFM Radio Community Show, talking about local history

Contributor to:

‘The Architecture that the Railways Built’ series

BBC News Afternoon

BBC Look North

ITV News Tyne Tees

BBC Radio Tees.

To read in more detail about another paper, see:

Marion Barrett

A closer look at our ‘Women in Wartime’ conference

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We’re delighted to announce that tickets are now on sale for our ‘Women in Wartime’ conference.  2 days of talks, 6 panels, 24 speakers, a keynote address and a musical perfomance.  You can find out about all the talks and buy your ticket online here:

We’re going to share a few more details about each of the speakers and the talks they will deliver over the next few posts.


Talk Title: ‘Great Grandma Barrett Was a Shining Woman’: Reflections on the Radium Girls and Industrial Disease

During World War I and World War II, thousands of young women on the east coast of the United States  participated in the war effort by working as radium dial painters, including my great grandmother, Marion Murdoch O’Hara Barrett.

Dial Painters worked with radium and used the lip-point technique to create glowing watch dials, buttons for soldiers, and navigational equipment. At night, encouraged by industrial propaganda that held radium as beneficial to health, Marion brought home in sellable radioactive paint chips to give to her children as glowing toys.

This industry had horrifying impacts on their health and that of their families.  Marion died at the age of 76, suffering from dementia and aluminum deposits on the brain- the result of her time in industry. Many of her children died fairly young, succumbing to cancer, autoimmune disease, and cardiac illnesses.

This conference paper will explore Marion’s work within the dial painting industry and its impact on her health and her children’s well-being within the greater context of industrial disease.


Biography of speaker:

Erin Becker is the Visitor Services & Volunteer Coordinator at the Long Island Maritime Museum in West Sayville, NY.

Her research interests focus on the convergence of women, labor, and the environment through a global extractive maritime economy. Her work in museums grapples with investing local peoples in their resources (archaeological, historical, and environmental) as stakeholders through outreach, education, and the development of public programming.

She has written for Gotham Center for New York City History, New York History Blog, Read More Science, and Global Maritime History. She is the co-host of the Scholars Beyond the Tower: Conversations from our Fields podcast. She can be found at @ErinE_Becker on Twitter.

Above: photograph of Great Grandma Barrett

A postcard of a munition worker holding a cigarette sat on some gun powder with the words "expecting a rise shortly."

Conference Call for Papers

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The Devil’s Porridge Museum will host an online conference focused on women’s work in wartime on Friday 21st May.  12,000 women worked at HM Factory Gretna in World War One and the Museum exists to share their stories.  We have just embarked on an ambitious project to research as many lives and accounts as possible and this conference coincides with this work.

The keynote speaker will be Professor Angela Woollacott, author of ‘On Her Their Lives Depend: Munitions Workers in the Great War’ and Manning Clark Professor of History at the Australian National University.


We welcome submissions of papers that will last 30 minutes (including time for questions).  Suggested topics include (but are not restricted to):

-Any aspect of work done by women in either World War

-Munitions work

-Women’s Units such as the Women’s Land Army, Women’s Auxiliary Corps etc.

-Welfare work

-Militancy or political agitation during war

-The Home Front and the impact of War on domestic life

-Women in conflicts since 1945

-Biographies of individual women or focused on female pioneers

-Objects in GLAM organisations relating to women in work

-Women working in Science, Technology or Engineering during wartime


Please submit a paper proposal of not more than 250 words and biographical information of not more than 100 words by March 15th to


If you would like to know more about The Devil’s Porridge Museum, you may find our guidebook (available from our online shop) of interest:

The Devil’s Porridge Museum Guidebook – Devils Porridge Museum

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