Women’s Work – sharing the stories of WWI factory women

Women's Work image.

This year Birmingham-based Women & Theatre will be working with members of the community in Small Heath as part of a new heritage project, Women’s Work, exploring the experiences of women working in factories during the First World War.

The project will bringing together women from 18-65 to carry out heritage research using archive and oral history techniques focusing on the Small Heath area of Birmingham, home of First World War Birmingham Small Arms (BSA) factory. Participants will develop and be part of a new piece of theatre, creating a touring exhibition and a digital archive connecting modern audiences with the stories of female factory workers during the conflict.

Women interested in taking part, and those with stories to share about their female ancestors during the First World War, are invited to attend an Inspiration Day at Small Heath Library on 21 January between 10am and 3pm. During the day Women & Theatre will share artefacts including oral recordings and documents from local archives. Historian Dr Chris Upton will also deliver a talk about the history of the BSA factory and the inclusion of women in the workforce.

The Inspiration Day will be followed by an Oral History Drop In Session at Small Heath Baptist Church on 24 January giving members of the public another opportunity to share stories about their female ancestors working in Birmingham factories.

During the project, participants will visit the BSA factory site, carry out oral history interviews with relatives of factory workers and access the Library of Birmingham’s First World War collections working with a professional archivist. Following the research process, participants will collaborate with theatre professionals to produce a new performance piece which will depict a day in the life of a female factory worker.

For further information on the Inspiration Day and how you can get involved visit the Women and Theatre website.