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Virtual tour 7 - Women during the war

The First World War, changed forever the role of women. Ladies from the higher social classes worked in healthcare and nursing, providing assistance to the poor, widows and orphans. They also helped within charity organizations for countries in need, like Belgium. As far as the middle class women were concerned, they went to work again, mostly in services to carry out administrative jobs. Additionally, they also took on the typical 'male roles' in society such as postmen or police officers. Many women also worked in the war industry, though it really wasn't a choice of their own, but a financial necessity. Some women even went working very close to the front e.g. in launderettes, catering services and bars, while others ended up in the brothel.

Object 1: The syringe (MZ 01863)
For many women, however, working in the war industry is not a choice, but a financial necessity. Some find work close to the Front in laundries, cafés and restaurants, others end up in brothels. ‘The syringe’ is used to treat one of the disagreeable effects of widespread prostitution: gonorrhoea. (MMP1917, MZ01863)

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Object 2: Badge (MZ 6980)
In various ways governments expressed their thanks for the many women on the home front. From 1917 the Australian Department of Defence issued so called Female Relative Badges. They were given to the nearest female relative of men who left Australia for active service abroad. A bar was suspended below the badge to indicate additional relatives involved in the war effort. (MMP1917, MZ 06980)
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Object 3: Book (MZ 07489)
British children's abecedarium entitled "Our hospital A (nzac); B (ritish) C (anadian), written by Hampden Gorodon and M.C. Tindall, illustrated by Joyce Dennis. Published in London and New York by The Bodley Head (MMP1917, MZ 07489)
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