Men, Women and Care: Formal and Informal Caregiving in Interwar Britain


€1.02 million

Partners and collaborators

The National Archives, London


One of the most profound effects of the First World War on European societies was the unprecedented number of war disabled. The Men, Women and Care project explores the structures developed in Britain in the interwar years to provide medical and social care to these men and how different spheres of care were shaped by gendered understandings of care-giving and utilized gender to mobilize support. At the centre of the project is the development of an internationally significant database of material relating to the care of British disabled ex-servicemen, drawing on the 22,829 files held in the PIN 26 series of the National Archives, Ministry of Pensions and Successors: Selected First World War Pensions Award Files. The database will enable team members to carry out quantitative analysis of data recorded and identify relevant files for closer qualitative analysis.

The database is being developed in conjunction with the National Archives. While there have been studies care provided to disabled ex-servicemen by charities, and of the relationships between the State and the veteran in interwar Europe, this is the first study to examine the role of institutions alongside and in relation to the informal social and medical care provided by the family. Through its examination of issues of political and domestic responsibility for the care of disabled ex-servicemen, issues with continuing relevance in light of the survival of severely disabled service personnel in contemporary conflicts, the project makes a significant intervention into historical debates around the development of medical practice in the first half of the twentieth century and engages with policy makers working on the provision of medical and social care. Utilizing the prism of gender studies, the project interrogates social and cultural understandings of care-giving in the first half of the 20th century in order to gain insight into historic relationships between men, women and care.

Project website