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No Mean City: 1914 to 1950s

Everyday Life

The Family

By Christopher C Lee

Elizabeth Anderson Crighton In the period 1914-1950s family life in Glasgow was dominated by the impact of two World Wars and the changes they brought. During the First World War (1914-1918) there was barely a family that was not affected by the death of a friend or relative. This probably explains why the maiden aunt was such a feature of family life. If War reduced the chances for marriage, the shortage of manpower presented women with new opportunities in the workplace. In particular, they were able to take advantage of employment which was previously the preserve of their father or husband.

Office workers For the middle classes, there was a taste of things to come as they felt the impact of their domestic servants leaving for the front line or the munitions factory. After the War women were expected to return to their old jobs or go back home to make way for those men who came back. In addition, the depression in trade and industry in the inter-war years put added pressures on family life in Glasgow.

Advertisement The Second World War (1939-1945) changed family life forever. Many servicemen spent long periods away from home and returned to find their children did not recognise them and their wives and girlfriends had new lives in the factories and civil defence. The post-war welfare state and the reconstruction and redevelopment of the city were to change family life even further. Change in some areas took a little longer. Divorce was difficult and shameful as was abortion and even adoption. The 1960s would change all that.

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