THE First World War was the catalyst that introduced an army of British women into the workforce for the first time. With the majority of men away at the Western Front, it was imperative that industry and services were kept going and the only available labour was from the distaff side.
Over the past 100 years women have continued to be an important cog in the work place and a project is underway called Sandwell Women at Work to celebrate the contribution women have made in the work place in Sandwell between 1914 and 2014.
Sue Broome has been tasked to find 20 or more people in the borough who have a story to tell about their work experiences, both old and young, retired or still employed, with perhaps memories of old trades that have now been consigned to the history books, or jobs which may have been passed down through several generations of one family.
Sue told us, "This is a new project, recently initiated by the Mayor of Sandwell, to celebrate the contribution women in Sandwell have made over the past 100 years.
"And it isn't only people who have worked in factories that I would like to hear from. There are a whole range of jobs in every conceivable work place, community setting and even in the home.
"We are looking for women who remember the contribution their mothers and grandmothers made – maybe they were the first women in their families to go out to work and do a '9 to 5' job. We also want to hear from women who would like to share stories of their working lives – we want to find out what went on in Sandwell's factories; how women coped with running a home and looking after a family at the same time as holding down a full time job; the impact of new gadgets and technology; how women helped each other in communities that thrived due to their impact; and whether the situation these days has stayed the same or is very different from years ago?
"We would like lots of anecdotes, photos if possible, personal stories, and treasured family memories, from women who can remember picking coal with their mothers or grandmothers, to those who worked in local factories during WWII and beyond."
Sue's time-scale is a little tight and she would prefer to be in contact with people before the end of February.
If you are interested in adding your story to the history of the working woman in Sandwell, Sue can be contacted on 01299 251512, between 10am and 10pm, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org