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The role of women in the Second World War Assignment

Source A is a cartoon in the British magazine ” Punch”. It was drawn in the Second World War. It was drawn to mock the establishment and the government. The picture is a primary source as it was drawn at the time. Punch is a satirical magazine.

The purpose of the picture is to make people laugh at the government’s decision to introduce conscription for all women. The artist appears to believe that many women would not have been able to do the jobs. The audience would of been well educated and professional people. Conscription was introduced in April 1941 and the picture was probably drawn shortly after this.

Source A is reliable in some ways because it was drawn at the time of conscription and it may reflect what people were thinking at the time. In other ways it is not reliable as it might of been exaggerated. It is not a photograph and it is an artist’s impression. In the picture the man is asking if she has had any experience in agricultural work but it is clear that she hasn’t by the way that she is dressed. In the picture she has a stupid posh and expensive hat on, She is wearing a fox around her neck. She looks like she is a rich women and has most probably never done a days work in her life. She probably has servants to do her house chores so she can do as she pleases during the day.

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Many people were sexist towards women and thought that they would not be capable to do the jobs they were being asked to do and this cartoon appears to show this.

Source B is a picture drawn by Joan Seephat who served in the royal engineers in the british army during the war. It shows women starting training and after they had been trained up.

The purpose of the picture is to show what women looked like when they had just started training and what they looked like after they had been trained up.

In some ways source B is reliable because it might of been her own experience. Source B might be a unwitting source and might have been drawn for only her eyes and no one else to see. It might have been drawn in a personal diary or sketchbook. We know that women did join the services and they would of had to be trained up. In other ways it is not reliable because it is not a photograph but an artists impression. We dont know why it was drawn, when it was drawn or who it was drawn for.

Source D is a letter written by a women, who is a new Land Army recruit. The letter has been written to her boyfriend. It was written during WW2. We don’t know exactly when but it must have been written after April 1941, as this is when conscription of women was introduced. The source is an unwitting source. It was written to tell her boyfriend about her first day, and it was not written to be published.

The content of the source is useful because it tells us what time they got up and had breakfast, what work they did during the day, what time they finished work, where they slept and what they slept on and what the weather was like. There are some gaps that make it less useful. It does not explain what time they went to bed, what they got they paid each month, where they went to pick potatoes, who their general was and where they were based.

Aspects of the provenance of the source make it reliable. It could of been her own experience. It’s an unwitting source as it’s a private letter to her boyfriend and wasn’t meant to be seen by other people. She’s being honest describing her own experience and the letter was produced at the time.

However, aspects of the source make it unreliable. She is a new recruit and isn’t used to the conditions the had to live and work in. It is just one women’s point of view and other women might have been used to this type of work and so it may not be typical.. It doesn’t tell us the women’s name, age or background. Also she might have written it to gain sympathy from her boyfriend so she might have exaggerated parts of her letter.

Source C is a picture, a photograph, was taken in a shopping centre, showing women signing up to join the Land Army. The source may be a witting source. It was most probably taken for propaganda use. It was written to show women that other women were signing up so they should do the same.

The content of the source is useful because women did sign up to join the Land Army and women were most likely to be found in shopping centres so it was easier to put a stall in the centres so women could see them.

However, there are some gaps that make it less useful. It doesn’t tell us how many women signed up, The sign in the picture is facing the wrong way and it makes me think that it has been posed. We don’t know exactly why it was taken, we don’t know who it was taken by, and we don’t know who it was taken for.

There are aspects of the provenance of the source make it reliable. We know that women did volunteer to sign up to join the Land Army, and because women were most likely to be found in a shopping centre, it would of been easier to get them to sign up there.

However, aspects of the source make it unreliable. We don’t know why the photo was taken, who it was taken for and we don’t know who took it. It could of been taken to be used for propaganda purposes, It could of been taken by a family member just for fun, although to me it looks posed because the women are smiling.

I think that source D is more useful because it is a unwitting source as it was only meant to be seen by her boyfriend and she was telling him of her experience. It tells us about the lives of women in the Land Army and what conditions they worked and lived in. Source D is a letter and it was written at the time and although the photograph (source C) was taken at the time it, doesn’t tell us anything about the lives of the women in the Land Army.

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