Working Lives and Memories of the Home Front

Part-time women war workers inspect cables in the Inspection Department of the ‘factory’ at Perrings furniture showrooms. They are producing electrical equipment for the Royal Air Force.

War generates unique and unexpected experiences in civilians’ ordinary lives. But war can also exist as a surprisingly uneventful setting for everyday working lives. At the European Social Sciences and History Conference three talks encouraged me to consider ways in which war work impacted civilians’ ordinary lives through memories that reclaim, forget and negotiate popular experiences of the Second World War.

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Versions of everyday survival in 1950s Britain: feeling fear without worrying.

Crown Film Unit production, The Waking Point, Film still, [00:14:32]; (Britain: Central Office of Information, 1951) IWM Collections; COI 1181.

The Cold War launched a new series of threats on Britain - from invasion by communists to atomic warfare. The military and moral implications of this ideological battle meant that fear was ever-present in the public sphere. My Collaborative Partnership PhD asks whether fear really was the most widely held emotion in 1950s Britain. At the British Social and Cultural History conference, held from 31 March to 2 April, I will be presenting my initial thoughts on this topic, using evidence gained through oral history interviews.

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