In this film about an unusual collection of historical sources, Dr. Sam Caslin from Liverpool University, reveals some unexpected and fascinating aspects of the struggle for women’s rights. The Dick Kerr ladies’ football team was formed by a group of women who worked in a munitions factory in Preston, Lancashire, during the First World War. Caslin meets Gail Newsham from Chorley, who has a unique scrapbook featuring a series of newspaper articles following the team’s progress. Caslin discovers that during the war years when the men were away fighting, the team became extremely popular, playing in some of the country’s leading stadiums in front of tens of thousands of supporters. However, other sources show less favourable reactions, with attempts to parody women footballers, highlight the changing female physiques some journalists suggested would result, and even insinuating that some women would be too preoccupied with their looks to be able to focus on the ball. The film shows how the development of women’s rights sometimes manifested itself in unusual or unexpected ways, but that a level of sexism that wouldn’t be acceptable today was evident despite the popularity of the game.

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Teach

Pupils could be asked to discuss whether they think the sources in the scrapbook are more significant as evidence about women at the time or whether they think the fact that the football manager created the scrapbook is more significant. As a secondary question, they should also be asked whether they think the scrapbook really belongs in a museum, and if so how would they display it?