The Women’s Peace Crusade

The Women’s Peace Crusade 1917-1918 in the North West

This project looks at the development of the generally unremembered Women’s Peace Crusade in the industrial North during the last two years of the First World War, focusing on a number of key towns in East Lancashire and Greater Manchester. The Crusade ran like wildfire across the country during 1917 and 1918, after an enthusiastic but faltering beginning in Glasgow in 1916 after the Battle of the Somme. By the summer 1918, there were over 123 Crusades, unambiguous in their socialist, pacifist and feminist message, co-ordinated by a complex network of women suffrage, socialist and pacifist activists who were appealing to local working-class women. The Crusade lulled during the winter of 1916 and re-emerged throughout 1917, particularly after the First Russian revolution in March, and then again during 1918 when peace was on the horizon after the entry of the USA into the war. Although there are references to the WPC in works about opposition to the war (e.g. Liddington, Johns, Ronan) these references are generally simplified and present an overview.
The project will be a co-production project between volunteers and academics, working together on recovering unknown local histories of East Lancashire and Greater Manchester. The volunteers and academics will co-produce a small touring exhibition, co-create a documentary film and give talks to local schools and community groups. Local volunteers, who are already showing an interest though Archives+, will be trained in archive research and offered study space in Manchester Archives and Manchester Centre for Regional History at Manchester Metropolitan University.

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This project is funded by the AHRC Voices of War and Peace Engagement Centre at the University of Birmingham.