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Vintage Photographs Captured Women at Work During World War I

During World War I (1914-1918), large numbers of Women were recruited into jobs vacated by men who had gone to fight in the war. New jobs were also created as part of the war effort, for example in munitions factories. The high demand for weapons resulted in the munitions factories becoming the largest single employer of women during 1918. Though there was initial resistance to hiring women for what was seen as ‘men’s work’, the introduction of conscription in 1916 made the need for women workers urgent. Around this time, the government began coordinating the employment of women through campaigns and recruitment drives.

This led to women working in areas of work 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.

Women work in a flour mill in England during World War I, circa 1915-1918. (Photo by Reuters/Bain Collection/Library of Congress)

A man and women, one holding an American flag, work in an office at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York, July 7, 1917. (Photo by Reuters/Bain Collection/Library of Congress)

Belgian women workers pose for a photograph as they stand in line holding baskets and shovels near a coal mine, circa 1910-1915. (Photo by Reuters/Bain Collection/Library of Congress)

Two women stand outside the Two Girls Waffle House, circa 1900-1916. (Photo by Reuters/Bain Collection/Library of Congress)

The Onofrio Cottone family finish garments in a tenement in New York, January 1913. The three oldest children Joseph, 14, Andrew, 10, and Rosie, 7, help their mother sew garments and together they make about $2 a week when work is plenty. (Photo by Reuters/Bain Collection/Library of Congress)

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Vintage Photographs Captured Women at Work During World War I

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