Monthly Archives: December 2013

CBC’s Kate Aitken in post-war Paris

The CBC’s online archive has put online three of the eight still existing shows by Kate Aitken, longtime voice of women’s programmes in Canada.

One of these in particular is interesting from WREN’s point of view – the show from March 31, 1950, where “Mrs. A.” visits Paris, talking about everything from city planning and education to fashion.  She also answers listener’s mail in a very personable fashion, with her trademark (and to present-day ears striking) singson delivery.   It also shows the combination of public service and commercial concerns that worked through women’s programmes.  (Aitken’s stationery in the 1950s billed her as ‘the broadcaster for Good Luck Margarine’).

Kate Aitken, besides being a fixture in women’s programming in Canada, was also an active member in the early years of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television, although this particular broadcast comes from before she joined the group.

As can also be seen in Kristin’s Skoog’s post about online materials in Sweden, features about life, and in particular women’s lives, in other countries appeared frequently in women’s programmes in the postwar era.

Women in Swedish Radio – historical materials online

Kristin Skoog highlights a number of great resources recently put online by Svergies Radio.  The clips are in Swedish – and interesting to hear how many issues seem to be the same the world over.

1) The first female news reader in 1938. In April 1938, Astrid Kindstrand was the first woman to read the news from TT (Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå a Swedish news agency). A woman reading the news caused a public outcry and here you can listen to both the broadcast by Kindstrand and complaints from listeners. Listen here:

2) Ingrid Samuelsson – Swedish radio woman pioneer. Listen here:

3) Swedish housewives in the US interviewed on the radio in 1947. In 1947 Ingrid Samuelsson travelled across the US and met with Swedish housewives living in New York and California. The housewives talk about their domestic lives, comparing US and Swedish lifestyles. Listen here:

Women at the BBC

WREN Kate Murphy has written a short overview of women’s roles at the BBC, including blurbs about pioneering women such as Hilda Matheson, first head of talks at the BBC,  and Janet Quigley, among many others for the BBC story on the BBC’s online history.

Serves as a good reminder that women have been involved in broadcasting (though in different roles in different countries) from the earliest years.


Call for papers: Home Fronts: Gender, War and Conflict

First Call for Papers

Home Fronts: Gender, War and Conflict

23rd Women’s History Network Annual Conference
5-7 September 2014 at the University of Worcester

Offers of papers are invited which draw upon the perspectives of women’s and gender history to discuss practical and emotional survival on the Home Front during war and conflict. Contributions of papers on a range of topics are welcome and may, for example, explore one of the following areas:

  • Food, domesticity, marriage and the ordinariness of everyday life on the Home Front
  • The arts, leisure and entertainment during military conflict
  • Women’s working lives on the Home Front
  • Shifting relations of power  around gender, class, ethnicity, religion or politics
  • Women’s individual or collective strategies and tactics for survival in wartime
  • Case studies illuminating the particularity of the Home Front in cities, small towns or rural areas
  • Outsiders on the Home Front including attitudes to prisoners of war, refugees, immigrants and travellers
  • Comparative Studies of the Home Front across time and  geographical location
  • Representation,  writing and remembering the Home Front

Although the term Home Front was initially used during the First World War, and the conference coincides with the commemorations marking the centenary of the beginning of this conflict, we welcome papers which explore a range of Home Fronts and conflicts, across diverse historical periods and geographical areas. Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be sent electronically by 1 April 2014.