The First World War demanded sacrifice from all levels of society, and the degree to which citizens at home were expected to “do their bit” was made explicit in national propaganda. Women and girls in Canada and Newfoundland were indelibly affected by, and were integral parts of, their countries’ war efforts. Yet their varied responses and myriad activities are not recognized in our memory of the war.
A Sisterhood of Suffering and Service actively engages in redressing that absence and in exploring why the retelling of women’s stories meets such resistance. Drawing upon a multidisciplinary spectrum of recent work – studies on mobilizing women, paid and volunteer employment at home and overseas, grief, childhood, family life, and literary representations – this collection brings Canadian and Newfoundland women and girls into the history of the First World War and marks their place in the narrative of national transformation.
Recognizing women’s active and emotional responses to the First World War is a crucial step towards understanding how that war shaped Newfoundland and Canada both during and after the conflict. This volume is therefore essential reading for anyone interested in the history of women, the First World War, Newfoundland, or Canada.
This book will appeal to anyone interested in Canadian history and war and society, as well as to students and scholars of women’s studies.
A Sisterhood of Suffering and Service is innovative and unique, both in its combination of research on the two dominions and in its focus on girls, as well as women. Examining as it does the transformation of Canadian society and gender relations as a result of the First World War, this will be the standard work for some time to come.
There has been very little published on the experiences of Canadian and Newfoundland women and girls in the First World War. This volume makes a start at filling that gap. It will stand alone as the single best book for university level studies on the history of women and the war.
Sarah Glassford teaches history at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. Amy Shaw is an associate professor of history at the University of Lethbridge and author of Crisis of Conscience: Conscientious Objection in Canada during the First World War (UBC Press, 2008).
Introduction: Transformation in a Time of War? / Sarah Glassford and Amy Shaw
Part 1: Mobilizing Women
1 “In Defense of the Empire”: The Six Nations of the Grand River and the Great War / Alison Norman
2 The Unquiet Knitters of Newfoundland: From Mothers of the Regiment to Mothers of the Nation / Margot I. Duley
3 Freshettes, Farmerettes, and Feminine Fortitude at the University of Toronto during the First World War / Terry Wilde
Part 2: Women’s Work
4 Gendering Patriotism: Canadian Volunteer Nurses as the Female “Soldiers” of the Great War / Linda J. Quiney
5 “Such Sights One Will Never Forget”: Newfoundland Women and Overseas Nursing in the First World War / Terry Bishop Stirling
6 Patriotic, Not Permanent: Attitudes about Women’s Making Bombs and Being Bankers / Kori Street
Part 3: Family Matters
7 An Honour and a Burden: Canadian Girls and the Great War / Kristine Alexander
8 Supporting Soldiers’ Wives and Families in the Great War: What Was Transformed? / Desmond Morton
9 Marks of Grief: Black Attire, Medals, and Service Flags / Suzanne Evans
Part 4: Creative Responses
10 Verses in the Darkness: A Newfoundland Poet Responds to the First World War / Vicki S. Hallett
11 “’Twas You, Mother, Made Me a Man”: The Motherhood Motif in the Poetry of the First World War / Lynn Kennedy
12 “Mother, Lover, Nurse”: The Reassertion of Conventional Gender Norms in Fictional Representations of Disability in Canadian Novels of the First World War / Amy Tector
Conclusion: “Sisterhood of Suffering and Service” / Sarah Glassford and Amy Shaw
Selected Bibliography; Index
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