Our Keeper’s Gallery currently features a display highlighting women represented in original artwork from the Second World War. These artworks are being shown in the gallery to mark the 70th anniversary this year of Victory in Europe Day on 8 May 1945, and as part of Women’s History Month in March. During the First World War women volunteered to undertake various roles to help the war effort (read more about this in yesterday’s blog post, A woman’s war 1914-1918). As the Second World War approached, it was clear the demand for labour would increase. From 1941, every woman in Britain aged 18-60 had to be registered to work and later that year conscription of women was introduced. In 1943, almost 90% of single women and 80% of married women were employed as part of the war effort. Women worked in numerous areas during the Second World War, in paid as well as voluntary positions. This display of original artwork from the INF 3 record series highlights just a few. INF 3 includes 1861 pieces of wartime propaganda art produced for the Ministry of Information during the Second World War. It includes works by dozens of artists in a variety of media.
Home front woman at rescue work, 1939-1946, artist unknown
The main civil defence services during the Second World War were Air Raid Precautions (ARP), the National Fire Service and the Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS). The WVS was set up in 1938 to involve women in ARP. This artwork depicts a women in rescue work. Initially women in the civil defence services mainly carried out clerical duties. This particular artwork was produced for publicity in Latin America.