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women in wartime

Bolckow's Ladies Football Team.

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

By News

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50 years ago the English FA rescinded a ban on women playing football.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

By News

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

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