The Unquiet Knitters of Newfoundland: From Mothers of the Regiment to Mothers of the Nation

TitleThe Unquiet Knitters of Newfoundland: From Mothers of the Regiment to Mothers of the Nation
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsDuley, Margot I.
EditorGlassford, Sarah, and Amy Shaw
Book TitleA Sisterhood of Suffering and Service: Women and Girls of Canada and Newfoundland during the First World War
PublisherUniversity of British Columbia Press

The Great War, the first conflict to mobilize civilians on a mass scale, profoundly altered Newfoundland society. Among Newfoundland women, the war set in motion a heightened sense of the importance of their traditional roles, leading to a successful suffrage movement and a general postwar upsurge of women's leadership and activism in community organizations. Newfoundland women began as hard-working supporters of their menfolk at war; many ended by asserting expanded roles for themselves in community and public life, including full citizenship. New women's organizations proliferated in the 1920s, becoming a significant part of Newfoundland's civil society. The war also highlighted the economic value of women's craft work. However, the primarily maternalist ideology of the activists set limits on the ultimate degree of change in women's roles. The economic challenges of the Great Depression of the 1930s and the suspension of democracy under the Commission of Government also acted as a brake on radical change. Nonetheless, the First World War altered Newfoundland society in a multitude of ways, including through the emergence of gendered activism. [Author]

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