University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

The WI's Rural Retailing and Markets 1915–1939: a First World War Legacy

Andrews, Maggie (2015) The WI's Rural Retailing and Markets 1915–1939: a First World War Legacy. History of Retailing and Consumption, 1 (2). pp. 89-104. ISSN Print: 2373-518X, Online: 2373-5171

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The Women's Institute Movement was set up under the auspices of the Agricultural Organisation Society in 1915 to improve the food supply during the Great War. The Women's Institutes encouraged food saving and preservation. This article draws attention to the rural retailing opportunities and markets that were established by the WI in wartime and continued to develop in the inter-war period, assisted by grants from the Carnegie Trust in the 1930s. The WI established sales tables, depots and markets that enabled smallholders, cottage gardeners and allotment holders to find financially non-exploitative retail opportunities for their produce. Initially this produce came from their gardens, allotments and smallholdings, but in time preserves, baking craftwork, jam, cakes, toys, knitted toys and garments and even a wedding trousseau were ordered or sold through these various WI retail outlets. The markets were not restricted to WI members and often sold work produced by small­holders, the disabled and ex-servicemen. Furthermore they were seen as an example of co-operative marketing that could prove useful in preventing food waste and helping rural households to survive in wartime and later during the economic crisis of the 1930s. This article suggests that these retail opportunities were of significance to rural women as a chance to earn much needed cash and in placing a value on domestic labour. They, like the WI, were a legacy of the First World War.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: Womens Institutes, WW1, rural life
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Humanities
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Depositing User: Maggie Andrews
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2016 09:25
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:10

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