MAF 59 - Board of Agriculture, Women’s Land Army: Correspondence, papers and minutes of Committees.
This series contains the national and local records of the Women's Land Army, an auxiliary agricultural workforce.
First established during the First World War, the Women's Land Army (W.L.A.) was re-formed during 1939 in readiness for the outbreak of conflict. Its purpose was to recruit, equip, and supply girls and women from non-agricultural occupations between the ages of eighteen and forty for regular full-time employment in agriculture, in order to supplement the ordinary sources of agricultural labour during this period of emergency. The "Land Girls", as they were known, were recruited for a wide array of agricultural work across the country; usually salaried and billeted by individual farmers, volunteers were also supported by the Land Army through the provision of training, accommodation, and welfare services.
The Land Army was a part of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, with a headquarters office working in close relationship with the Ministry's Man Power Division. Land Army offices were set up for administrative areas (usually defined at county level) across the country. The county administration was directed and supervised by a County Secretary, aided by an Assistant Secretary, one or more County Organisers who travelled within the county, and an office staff varying in size from three or four workers in the small offices, up to twenty to thirty in the largest. Alongside the county office and salaried staff sat a voluntary advisory committee for each administrative area, consisting of a chairman and eight appointed members, all persons with special knowledge of local conditions. The committees advised both the county and headquarters offices of the Women's Land Army on the application of the national policy of the Land Army to the circumstances of the county, including the recruitment of volunteers, and the conduct of regular welfare visits to those women placed on the farms.
Files selected from this series include the full records of the central W.L.A. administration during the Second World War (MAF 59/4-29), and a regional sample of the minutes, correspondence, and other records of local W.L.A. County and Welfare Committees. These provide a detailed insight into the day-to-day lives and experiences of women recruited for agricultural work, including living conditions, health and workplace safety, entertainment, and expectations of conduct and discipline.