Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Copy of Feminism, Family and the State 1914-1939

Questions to ponder whilst you read…

  • Were feminists in agreement about on the subject of ‘the family’?
  • How influential were feminist ideas in shaping social policy?
  • What feminist critique might we have of the welfare state?

Preparatory Activity

Create a collective timeline of key events, legislation etc relating to women, the family and the state. You can access the timeline here and I have started it off

Core Reading

Jane Lewis, ‘Gender, the Family and Women's Agency in the Building of "Welfare States": the British Case’, Social History 19 (1994), 37-55 (Charlie, Harprit, Emily)

Anna Davin, ‘Imperialism and Motherhood’, History Workshop Journal 5 (1978), 9-65 [seminal article on relationship between motherhood and the state] (Tamyla, Megan, Ateeqa)

Further Reading

Jane Lewis, The Politics of Motherhood: Child and Maternal Welfare in England, 1900-1939 (1980)

Christina Beaumont, ‘Citizens not Feminists: the Boundary Negotiated Between Citizenship and Feminism by Mainstream Women's Organisations in England, 1928-39’, Women’s History Review 9:2 (2000), 411-429

Susan Pedersen, Family, Dependence and the Origins of the Welfare State in Britain and France (1993) ebook

Deborah Cohen, ‘Private lives in public spaces: Marie Stopes, the mothers clinics and the practice of contraception’ History Workshop Journal 35 (1993), 95-116

Christina Beaumont, ‘Moral Dilemmas and Women's Rights : the attitude of the Mothers' Union and Catholic Women's League to divorce, birth control and abortion in England, 1928-1939’, Women’s History Review 16:4 (2007) 463-85


‘Leaflet re National Council for Unmarried Mother and Her Child’ Ref. Maternity and Infant Welfare 1/3, Women, War and Society [access via Warwick Library databases]

‘Leaflet: Babies of the Empire Society’, Ref. Maternity and Child Welfare 1/4, Women, War and Society [access via Warwick Library databases]

‘Leaflet: Maternity and Child Welfare Grant’, Ref. Maternity and Child Welfare 1/13 Women, War and Society [access via Warwick Library databases]

‘The State and Sexual Morality’ (1920) MRC MSS.97/5/24 [digitised MRc document]

Eleanor Rathbone, ‘The Disinherited Family: A Please for Direct Provision for the Costs of Child Maintenance Through the Provision of Family Allowances’, BSP Social Service Review 1 Sept 1927 1:3, 525-526

Or her book The Disinherited Family if you find this interesting.

Sylvia Pankhurst, The Home Front (1932) [a fascinating read]

‘Motherhood’ (1931) [digitised MRC document]