Introduction World war 1 had a huge impact on peoples live at home. We can see from the sources that I am analysing that all sections of society were affected by the war, men, women and government. The working classes were affected by recruitment and the upper and middle classes were affected because they had to do their own housework. Also peoples standards of living were affected, they had more of a balanced diet and the women found that they had more money because their husbands were at war.
I am going to evaluate a number of sources which tell us a lot about what affected peoples lives during the war. I will look at the validity of the sources and the strengths and weaknesses. The topics I will study are Recruitment and Conscription, Politics, Role of Women and Changing Standards attitudes and beliefs. I will start by looking at how Recruitment and Conscription affected peoples lives at home during the war. Recruitment and Conscription. Many people’s lives were affected by the first world war. At the start of the war the government had to try and persuade 1000’s of men to join the war.
Source A1 (i) is a Recruitment poster produced by the government in 1914 as part of a Propaganda campaign to get people to sign up and fight in the first world war. The poster features a picture of Lord Kitchener who was the secretary state for the war. This poster is the most famous poster made for the war and it made men feel as if they as an individual was wanted to fight for their country. The idea of the finger pointing and using the words ‘you’ and ‘your’ made the men feel as if the government ‘wants you’ as an individual.
The weakness of the poster is the fact that it is propaganda. The poster is basically saying that you must sign up to the war. Source A1 (ii) is a photograph taken outside Southwark Town Hall in London. It was taken during December 1915. The photo is of an ‘Army Recruiting Office’. The people who are queuing in the long lines to sign up all look happy at the prospect of going to war. This seems unusual to me and this could be because the photo may have been staged by the government to make the men think that all other men are signing up so they should sign up too.
The fact that this photo could have been staged makes the source unreliable because it is not real. In December 1915, the government were in trouble because they did not have enough men signing up to the war, because at this point people at home were learning of the first major casualties of the war. The men were realising that going to war was not as easy as it first looked. So in December not many people were signing up which makes the site of this many people signing up a rare site at the time.
Also if there was so many people signing up, the government would not have had to bring in Conscription. A strength of this source is that it was taken at the time but a weakness is that it could have been staged. Conscription was the compulsory enrolment into the armed forces. In January 1916 the act was passed that unmarried men between the ages of 18 – 41 had to join the armed forces. Then in May 1916 a second act was passed that unmarried men between the ages of 18 – 41 had to join the army. Politics and the war effort The first world war had a big effect on Politics.
We can see this in Source B3. Source B3 is a photograph of the new Prime Minister with the new members of the coalition cabinet. The photograph was taken at 10 Downing Street in December 1916. A weakness of the photo is that it maybe propaganda and could well have been staged to make the people at home believe that the government were united through the war. Its strengths are that it was taken at the time. This increases the reliability of the source because it is an actual picture from the time of the war showing that the government was united through the war.
Source B4 shows how the first world war affected different Political Parties. The source is written by John Davies on the ‘History of Wales’ in 1993. This source tells us that Labour was becoming more popular through the war as it had no responsibility for how the war came about, but for the Liberal party the war was a disaster because their leader Henry Asquith lost his role of Prime Minister to the Labour leader David Lloyd George. The source says: The strength of this source may be that it was written a long time after the war, so John Davies views would have been based on balanced opinions.
A weakness of the source though is that the book is only about Wales. Also it may have been biased to David Lloyd George because he was welsh. The First World War also had an affect on political issues. In December 1917 the house of commons decided to give the vote to 6,000,000 Women over the age of 30. Source B5 (i) is a report from ‘The Daily Sketch’ which shows this. The report tells us that the vote was won by a huge majority of 330 out of 440 votes. It shows the start of a new era for women.
The strength of the source is that is an actual report from the time which makes it reliable. Source B5 (ii) is a photo of the 1918 general election when for the first time Women over 30 were allowed to vote. The picture tells us that woman were becoming more independent. The picture source may be reliable is it was taken at the time of the general election. A weakness of the source is that it was taken by the government reassuring men that the women would probably vote the same way as their husbands. Women and Social Change.
World War 1 had a massive affect on the way women ran their lives. More women started going to work, fashion changed and they had more money from wages to spend on themselves because the men were away. Source C3 is a poster produced by the government showing people that women are ‘doing their bit’ by making munitions for the men at war. We do not know when the poster was issued but we do know that it was from sometime during the war. The weakness of the poster is that it was propaganda to get more women to work. The strength of it though is that it was from the time.
This affects the reliability as because it is from the time we know that it was actually shown to the women during the war. The First World War had an affect on how many Women were employed in different trades. Source C4 is a table of Figures that represent the changes of the amount of women that were employed throughout the war. The table shows the increase in the amount of Women employed in Britain between July 1914 and July 1918. The source may be reliable because they are official Government figures but the numbers are rounded up so we do not know the exact figure.
They could have been rounded up to the nearest thousand or the nearest 100 thousand we do not know. A weakness of the source is that it doesn’t tell us what happened after the war. After the war the number of Women employed may have decreased. The amount of money that women had also increased, this may be because their husbands were away, so they did not have to buy for them and also they were working. In Some cases the women were getting paid more than Corporals. We can see this in Source C5. This source was written by a full corporal, H. V. Shawyer in 1916.
He says: This source tells us that the women were getting paid more than the men and were also able to spend their money on other people. This source may be reliable as it was written by the person about his experience and also it was written at the time of the war. Changing Standards, Attitudes and Beliefs The impact of the First World War changed people’s standards, attitudes and beliefs. Source D3 is an extract from an article written by A. J. P. Taylor in 1965 about England 1914 – 1918. The extract is about how the war affected the rich. A. J. P Taylor says:
‘At the end of the war, there was a general change of economic outlook. Previously the idle rich had been proud of being idle. Now they were ashamed of it and idleness was becoming more difficult. Domestic servants, for instance, were hard to come by. Their number had been halved during the war. Households which had kept five servants dropped to two; those firmly with two to one; and the rest of the middle class made to do with a daily woman. ‘ This source tell us that people were happy to have servants before the war but now they know what it was like being ‘normal’ they became ashamed of it.
The way people used their money changed, instead of using servants they were doing the work themselves. It was more difficult for the rich to get away with doing nothing, because the working class had more better paid jobs to do. The source may be more reliable because it was written a long time after the war and he would have been able to gather more evidence. People would have also been more honest because it was a long time after the war. Source D4 shows how the war affected religion and chapels. The source is from a book by Kenneth O.
Morgan called Rebirth of a Nation: Wales 1880 – 1980. It was written in 1981. The emphasis of the book is not actually about the First World War and so the book may have only had a page about the war. Source D4 says: ‘The factors which had weakened the chapels before the war – debt, over-expansion in rural areas and lack of support from non- Welsh speakers and industrial workers became stronger after the war………… Fundamentalist religious belief, barely changed since the chapels were founded. ‘ This source is telling us that the society changed during the war but the chapels didn’t.
The source may be reliable because the book was written a long time after the war. This means that Kenneth O. Morgan would have been able to base his book on a lot more evidence than if it was written immediately after the war. A weakness of the extract is that the book is only about how the Welsh chapels changed. People’s Standard of living also changed as a result of the First World War. In an article by a modern historian, Clive Emsley, he said that ‘although the war resulted in the deaths of many thousands, there was an overall improvement in people’s diet and a decline in the death rate.
‘ He also said that ‘Lone wives were able to wages go further’. This source tells us that some people were better off than they’d ever been. Because this article was written in 1996 it makes it more reliable, because he would have been able to base his article on a lot more evidence that came available a long time after the war. Conclusion From studying these sources on recruitment and conscription, politics and the war effort, role of women and changing standards, attitudes and beliefs it can be seen that the war had a massive impact on all sections of society.
These changes were sometimes better, financial and Health wise. However as can be seen from Recruitment and conscription, the men had to sign up and a lot were being killed The First World War acted as a catalyst to a change in society. People who had experienced war first hand had their lives change dramatically, however those who were at home e. g. women and children, also experienced fundamental change in many aspects of their lives.