The project is in partnership with the Royal Holloway University of London and the Institute of Historical Research.
Motherhood, Loss and the First World War will share community-researched stories of women bereaved during the First World War, bringing to light their experiences and inviting communities across the country to remember them. The project will have a special focus on women’s groups to discover these stories and to respond to them in creative and meaningful ways, empowering isolated women by connecting them with their community, and developing citizenship, civil society and advocacy skills. It will also bring to light new areas of historical research into the impact bereavement had on societies in Britain during and after the First World War.
I choose the story of the munitions factory worker. They were based here in Birmingham in 1915 onward. Some ladies as young 14 helped in the dangerous tasks.
Working with hazardous chemicals on a daily basis without adequate protection. Many women worked with (TNT), and prolonged exposure to the nitric acid that turned the women’s skin a yellow colour. The women whose skin was turned yellow were popularly called canary girls. Prolonged exposure to the chemicals also created serious health risks for the munitionettes. Exposure over a long period of time to chemicals such as TNT can cause severe harm to the immune system.
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My Canary does not sing
she has a cough,
My Canary will not sleep
she has to work,
My Canary cannot walk
she has to hop,
My Canary is yellow
she has yellow hair and skin,
My Canary is my Mother, but
she has to make death.