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Title: Beyond surplus, beyond motherhood : British migrant women, 1914-1929
Author: Mulhearn, Rachel M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7964 1686
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2018
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The following study gives attention to the history of women who left the UK to settle overseas between 1914 and 1929, specifically in the British Dominions of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It introduces female migration during this period as an aspect of women's history that focuses on occupational diversity, paid and unpaid, within and outside of marriage. It adds to existing studies of overseas settlement during the interwar years while introducing the First World War as a period for which a gendered migration historiography can also be applied. The study considers this chronological span as a continuum of activity, established during the age of the Great Migration of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, and discusses patterns common to an extended period of overseas settlement, while also identifying variance. Central to the thesis is the study of occupation amongst British migrant women, a theme used as a foundation to discuss self-determination in the context of two constructs that framed female migration and empire settlement: 'surplus' women and the ideal of motherhood. The construct of 'surplus' women, on which nineteenth- and early twentieth-century migration schemes were built, is probed, as is the theme of motherhood as an instrument of British empire settlement. These are discussed across the broader contexts of race, gender and class. In the thesis, and using a series of case studies, the ideological framework within which women left Britain to settle overseas is tested through an exploration of migrant women's lives beyond surplus and beyond motherhood. Applying a range of digital and printed sources, including formal ones such as census returns, passenger lists, official archives and related propaganda ephemera alongside personal documents and museum artefacts, this thesis introduces new ideas about how British women responded to migration opportunities and the domestic environment within which they made the decision to leave the UK. Using personal testimony in the shape of diaries, letters, poetry and material culture, the study challenges the prevailing notions of the profiles within which British migrant women were slotted, depending on their marital status and occupation, and presents a fuller reality of their lives.
Supervisor: Graeme, Milne ; Anna, Bocking-Welsh Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral