UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

'Keepers of Morale' : the Vancouver Council of Women, 1939-1945 Rose, Ramona M.


Historians differ as to whether World War II brought about major changes in women's public and private roles. Using the Vancouver Council of Women as a case study, this thesis argues that its war-time activities were conducted in terms of a continuing ideology about women's roles, which enabled the VCW to adapt to the war-time situation requiring women to take on duties outside their traditional sphere, while limiting its ability to perceive a wider social role for women. The VCW's response to the war was a concerted effort to promote government policies at home while furthering the tenets of its maternal feminist philosophy. Relying on what it considered to be women's feminine talents the VCW maintained that women's efforts were best put to use in war fund drives and the protection of the home front. [The VCW's assistance in the mobilization of women into paid war work that incorporated their traditional work experiences revealed the narrow perception that it had of women's public sphere.] Its resolutions for post-war planning failed to offer broadening possibilities for women in the post-war world. Patriotism, the preservation of the ideals of home life and the promotion of women's feminine qualities were more important to the VCW than the pursuit of broad feminist goals. The war was not to alter the VCW's views regarding women's proper sphere; its beliefs and activities signified a continuation of prewar views regarding women's public and private status. Women's proper sphere was still domestic.

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