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Fertile Ground: Records of the Women's Land Army in North Yorkshire

In 2021 the Borthwick Institute for Archives began a project to catalogue and make available the records of Lady Celia Milnes Coates as they relate to her important work with the Women's Land Army (WLA) in North Yorkshire.  Lady Celia was appointed County Chairman for the North Riding of Yorkshire in 1938 and for the next twelve years she played a key role in the administration of the WLA in the region.  Her archive offers a unique perspective on a vital wartime organisation and the lives and experiences of the women who carried out its mission.

Womens Land Army recruitment poster

The records of Lady Celia begin with the re-formation of the WLA in 1938 and continue to its disbandment in 1950.  They include fascinating meeting minutes, notes, and correspondence on a wealth of subjects; from recruitment, billeting, training and pay and conditions, to interview notes on women volunteers, information about their placements, health, friendships, worries, and their lives after the Land Army.  

Womens Land Army meeting agenda

The papers have been described as a ‘treasure trove for historians interested in women’s wartime work’ by Cherish Watton, a leading researcher of the WLA.  Through the ‘Fertile Ground’ project, the records have been listed and repackaged and are available for research. You can find descriptions of their contents on our online catalogue Borthcat, or listen to a podcast introducing the archive, featuring readings from original documents in the collection.  If you would like to access the collection please get in touch with us via our contact page.