Showing posts with label Women's Patriotic Association. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Women's Patriotic Association. Show all posts

Monday, January 18, 2016

Learn More About the Women's Patriotic Association

As promised, here is a bibliography with original documents such as Evening Telegram articles, the WPA's published magazine called The Distaff  and photos. Also included are books and articles. I hope this compilation quenches your interest!

Archive and library collections:
At The Rooms:
Patriotic Association of the Women of Newfoundland (W.P.A.) fonds.MG 635, 1914-1921, 1939-1948, predominant 1939-1945.

Walter Edward Davidson fonds.

At Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador:

Archives and Special Collections - Mary Southcott Collection, Queen Elizabeth II Library.

Digital Archive Initiative (DAI):
Newfoundland Quarterly -
Volume 16: Number 1, July 1916, “Outlook Beyond the War,” p. 3, 10.

Volume 17: Number 1, July 1917, “Newfoundland and the War - Patriotic Work,” p. 4.
Number 4: April 1918, “Empire Honours - Newfoundland List,” p. 5.

Volume 18: Number 1, July 1918, “Empire Honours - Newfoundland,” p. 5-6.

Evening Telegram -
“Ladies’ Patriotic Movement: Women’s Association Formed - Address of Lady Davidson,” September 1, 1914, p. 8.

“Women’s Patriotic Association,” September 15, 1914, p. 5.

“For Our Soldiers,” September 24,1914, p. 7.

“W.P.A. Second Shipment,” December 14, 1914, p. 7.

“Women’s Patriotic Association Meeting,” October 1, 1917, p. 3.

** These are of particular interest but there are other volumes mentioning the WPA.

Centre for Newfoundland Studies
The Distaff 1916. St. John’s: The Royal Gazette, 1916.

The Distaff 1917. St. John’s: The Royal Gazette, 1917.

Books and articles:
Bishop Stirling, Terry. “Women's Mobilization for War (Newfoundland).” In 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, ed. by Ute Daniel, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz, Heather Jones, Jennifer Keene, Alan Kramer, and Bill Nasson, issued by Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin, Berlin 2015-09-30. DOI:

Duley Margot I. “The Unquiet Knitters of Newfoundland: from Mothers of the Regiment to Mothers of the Nation.” In A Sisterhood of Suffering and Service: Women and Girls of Canada and Newfoundland during the First World War, edited by Sarah Glassford and Amy Shaw, 51-75.Vancouver: UBC Press, 2012.
Part online at:

Duley, Margot I. Where Once Our Mothers Stood We Stand: Women's Suffrage in Newfoundland, 1890-1925. Charlottetown: Gynergy, 1993.

Duley, Tryphena. A pair of grey socks: facts and fancies. St. John’s, 1916.

Heritage Newfoundland and Labrador. “Women’s Patriotic Association.” Last modified April 2015.

Thanks to Terry Bishop Stirling for providing sources to this bibliography.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tuesday's Folklore Photo - Ladies in the Drawing Room

"Thursday's Working Bee in the Drawing Room"
Happy Tuesday to all! As you may be aware, I have been researching the Women's Patriotic Association as part of the Grey Sock Project. I came across this photo last week and wanted to share it with you.

This photo comes from the Walter Edward Davidson fonds at The Rooms. The women of the WPA would meet at the Government House for meetings, to work on knitting, sewing, sterilizing dressings and other tasks. The ladies in this picture are part of the Working Committee. Their purpose was to prepare workrooms, materials and to arrange work parties. Some of the women are knitting (far left - could those be grey socks!?) while others are using sewing machines.

I loved this photo the moment I saw it because you can see the ladies hard at work. I then discovered that the woman on the far left is Blanche Eleanor Bartlett, sister of Captain Robert "Bob" Bartlett which made me love it even more. Hope you enjoy this photo!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Knitting Comforts and Beyond

On August 31, 1914, Lady Margaret Davidson, the governor's wife, called a public meeting in St. John's. The 700 women who attended the meeting formed the Women's Patriotic Association (WPA). Today, the WPA is known for the knitted comforts they produced for Newfoundland and Labrador volunteers overseas. The grey sock was the most desired item as described by Private Francis Lind of the Newfoundland Regiment,
"A Newfoundland sock is the best in the world and is prized by every soldier. How many times at the Peninsula and before we ever saw Egypt have we been asked by soldiers of different regiments if we had a pair of Newfoundland socks to give them or sell them. They would even offer cigarettes in return."

In the Evening Telegram the socks are described as being "of natural wool homespun and are made in the three principal sizes which are distinguished by rows of colo[u]red wool." It is recorded that 62,685 pairs of socks were knitted by the women of the WPA. The socks were considered more than comfort, it was actually military necessity. The War Office's Field Service Regulations included instruction for the care of feet.

For this reason, the women were required to follow the sock pattern provided strictly, in order to create the most comfortable sock. In A pair of grey socks: facts and fancies, it is described that the socks must be loosely knitted to make the sock soft for marching feet, must not reach the bend of the leg and have no chance of folding. This would cause great discomfort for the wearer. The knitting the WPA did helped greatly but the women went beyond knitting comforts to support the war effort.

The women of the WPA organized concerts, plays, teas, bazaars and raffles. They also sold patriotic calendars, souvenir regimental badges, flowers and other goods. The WPA supported people at home in the province by creating a Visiting Committee. They kept in touch  and visited with family and relatives of volunteers serving overseas. The committee also visited soldiers in local hospitals. In St. John's alone, the committee made 11,270 visits.

By the end of the war there was around 250 branches across the province and over 15,000 members.The WPA collected more than $500,000 which is worth about $6.5 million today. When looking at other initiatives the WPA undertook, it is clear that the women of the WPA exceeded expectations of patriotic support!

This is only some of the amazing work, written in summary, done by the Women's Patriotic Association. There are many sources available to learn more! Stay tuned for a bibliography so you can view articles, books, photos and original documents.