Saturday, 6 October 2018

The Spirit of British Womanhood, Agnes Conway and the commemoration of women in WW1 at the Imperial War Museum

Following the setting up of the Imperial War Museum in London in 1917, The Women's Work Subcommittee came into being.  The first meeting of the Subcommittee took place on 26th April 1917.  Among the members were Agnes Conway and Lady Priscilla Norman, who had run a hospital in France during the first few months of the war. Co-helpers on the Women's Work Subcommittee were Lady Asquith, Lady Mond and Lady Haig.

The first report of the Subcommittee laid down its objectives as the collection of exhibits and the formation of a record of war activities by women by means of a collection of photographs, pamphlets and manuscript reports from all women’s organisations and outstanding private individuals.  If we are able to find information and photographs today, it is due entirely to the work of the Subcommittee.

Agnes Conway - historian and archaeologist. From 1917-1929, Agnes collected information concerning women's work in the First World War as Chairman of the Women's Work Sub-Committee of the Imperial War Museum in London. Her father, Martin Conway, was first the honorary Director-General of the IWM. 

Florence Priscilla, Lady Norman, CBE JP, née McLaren (1883 – 1 March 1964) – In 1907, Florence married Sir Henry Norman, 1st Baronet, a noted journalist and later Liberal MP for Blackburn, Lancashire. During the First World War, Lady Norman ran a voluntary hospital in Wimereux, France with her husband. She was awarded the Mons Star for her services and created a CBEfor her war services.

Lady Mond – Violet Florence Mabel, nee Goetze - turned her country home into a convalescent home for the wounded and took Belgian refugees into her London home.  In 1920, she was appointed DBE (Dame of the British Empire) for her work during WW1.

Lady Asquith - Emma Alice Margaret Asquith, Countess of Oxford and Asquith (née Tennant) 2 February 1864 – 28 July 1945 - was known as Margot Asquith. She was the second wife of Herbert Asquith, British Prime Minister from 1908 until 1916.

Lady Haig – The Hon. Dorothy Maud Vivian, daughter of 3rd Baron Vivian and his wife Louisa Alice Duff, was a bridesmaid to Queen Alexandra. She met Douglas Haig while he was a guest of King Edward VII at Windsor Castle. They married in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace in July 1905.  During the First World War, Countess Haig worked with the Red Cross, and was appointed a Lady of Grace of St John of Jerusalem. She suggested that a factory, employing those men disabled by war, should be started to make poppies for Scotland.