Women working in World War I

During World War I women were recruited into jobs that were formerly reserved for men, for example as railway guards and ticket collectors, buses and tram conductors, postal workers, police, firefighters and as bank ‘tellers’ and clerks.

Some women also worked heavy or precision machinery in engineering, led cart horses on farms, and worked in the civil service and factories. By 1917 women also worked in munitions factories and around 400 women died from overexposure to TNT during the war.

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During World War One women volunteered for essential work in order to release men for service in the armed forces. Between 1914-1918, around two million women volunteers replaced men in employment. Many female munition workers suffered from the chemicals they worked with, which turned their skin yellow, prompting the nickname 'canaries'. Photograph from an album of 76 official photographs, 1916-1917. Photograph, World War One, 1916 (c).

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