The Women’s Oral History Project - Women in Paid Employment in Munster 1936-1960

The Women's Oral History Project focuses on oral histories collected from women who worked in the Munster counties of Cork, Kerry or Limerick between 1936 and 1960. These are the stories of 42 'unexceptional' women who were employed in a range of occupations including domestic and farm work, shop work, office work, factory work, nursing, teaching, butter and cheese making, poultry instructing, and engineering.

‘The project sought to document the working lives of Munster women during the period 1936-1960, through the collection of oral histories. The project is a study of the stories of women who engaged in paid work in the period 1936-1960. It was designed to elicit information from women about their experiences of working, their family lives, their schooling and their impressions of how women's lives in Ireland have changed since this period. The project aimed to examine if and how, Munster women experienced or reacted to the prevailing social, cultural and legal definition of females as home-based and unpaid workers.

The researchers believe that the focus on Munster was very important in facilitating investigation into the extent of organised, female labour activity in this part of Ireland. Much of what is already known about women's involvement in the labour movement focuses on events that occurred in Dublin. By contextualising the women's accounts with official records as well as locally available oral, textual and visual sources, the result is a rich and vibrant insight into Munster women's working lives, in this under-researched period of Irish history.’

The material on the website can be browsed according to participants (all types of material available per interviewee), work category (audio clips), text descriptions (transcriptions of parts of interviews, sorted according to profession), images (photographs), or miscellaneous material.

The Women’s Oral History Project was part of a research initiative on ‘Women and Irish Society: Understanding the Past and Present Through Archives and Social Research’, which consisted of three strands. The other two strands of the project were: ‘Women and Literature’ and ‘Feminism & The Women’s Movement.’ The overarching project ‘Women and Irish Society’ received a significant research grant from the Higher Education Authority Programme for research in Third Level Institutions in Ireland. The project represented a collaborative venture between staff from the Departments of Applied Social Studies, English and Sociology in University College Cork.

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Thursday, 12 June 2014 - 5:06pm
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