Bath Fashion Museum enlists public to explore women's fashions during World War One

By Culture24 Reporter Published: 17 April 2014

Do you have memorabilia that could help tell the story of the role of women in the First World War? Bath and Somerset Council want to hear from you

a sepia photo of a hospital ward with wounded soldiers and nurses
The Bath War Hospital at Combe Park© Bath & North East Somerset Council
An exhibition in Bath tracing the lives and roles of women during the First World War is looking for contributions from the local area.

The Great War in Costume: Family and Fashion on the Home Front - running at the Assembly Rooms, Bath, from July to September - will explore the kinds of work women were employed to do on the home front and how that influenced the style of clothing they adopted.

Exhibition organisers are keen to hear from anyone who may have memorabilia from the time which has a connection to the area.

a studio photo of a woman in First World War munitions gear of long mac and cap
Betty the munitioneer© Bath & North East Somerset Council
Yvonne Hellin-Hobbs, the exhibition curator, says they are looking for “anything which may have been handed down by parents or grandparents and reflects life on the home front here in Bath and North East Somerset around 1914-1918”.

She names photographs of land girls on Batheaston farms or nursing staff in the Bath War Hospital at Combe Park, women’s timecards from working in a munitions factory, propaganda put up in local shops and Post Offices and letters sent home from the front line as examples.

The exhibition will investigate how World War I changed the lives of women in terms of status, class, position and what was acceptable for a woman to wear. With the advent of women doing what was considered men’s work, fashions changed radically; the corset disappeared and trousers became a norm.

These changes will be revealed through examples of uniforms and civilian dress, memorabilia and propaganda, and key costumes from the period drama Downton Abbey.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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