Tag Archives: World War I

Women, War, and the Sinking of the Lusitania

One hundred years ago today, on February 4, 1915, Germany declared a U-boat blockade of Great Britain. Historians note that the blockade changed the shape of the war, as it made civilians potential targets. The German blockade would have its most notorious moment three months later, on May 7, with the sinking of the Lusitania, resulting in the death of 1,198 civilians.

NewspaperLusitaniaWhile sinking the Lusitania was a momentary victory for the German navy, it would ultimately be a huge propaganda win for Great Britain and her allies, as “Remember the Lusitania” became a rallying cry for their war efforts. In America, the disaster was couched in terms that focused on the women and children on the ship–innocent victims of war.

enlist_wwi_recruitment_posterOf course, civilians, and by extension women, have never been immune to war. Women have been victims of war throughout history, whether they died innocently or fighting, or survived to become the spoils for the victors. Women have been more than victims, too. They have always picked up the slack on the home front while men marched away. They have defended their homes, done their husband’s jobs on top of their own, nursed the wounded both on and off the battlefield, and even fought beside the men.

That’s why I find it fascinating to explore the ways women have been portrayed in wartime. I don’t believe that women’s roles have varied all that much through the years, but certainly the public perception of those roles has changed.

America'sSonsNurseThe sinking of the Lusitania resulted in one of the most iconic images of womanhood in World War I, the sinking mother, babe in arms–innocent victims of the war to be protected. Other images of women from the Great War likewise show women as creatures to protect, images of comfort and home and prosperity to be returned to. The calls for women to help, show images of passive, sweet-faced maidens or nurturing matrons. They show mothers, arms lovingly outstretched to sons, or nurses, looking pretty and peaceful in their uniforms, or even mythological representations of women, such as Lady Liberty sowing fields.

2-world-war-i-us-poster-granger Women-France-World-War-I

Not quite the reality of what women really did, for example these French women plowing their fields in World War I.


In contrast, the women of World War II, twenty-some years later, are a stouter lot. The iconic, attractively-burly Rosie the Riveter and her companions burst on the scene with cries of WE CAN DO IT! OF COURSE I CAN! and IT’S OUR FIGHT TOO! Women are working in the posters of World War II, doing real labor–active, fighting, tough! Not just comforting helpers, but partners in the war effort.


The contrast between portrayals of women in the propaganda of the First and Second World Wars offers an interesting insight into how much attitudes about women had changed between 1915 and the late 1930s/early 1940s. It’s easy for modern readers to think of the struggle for women’s rights being a post World War II, civil-rights-era phenomenon, but the suffragists, labor leaders, and generally strong women of the early twentieth century achieved more than just the vote. These images are a great reminder of what they accomplished in changing the perception of women in the first half of the twentieth century. We must remember the Lusitania, but we must also remember the women who were fighting on the home front, for the sake of their sons on the battlefield, and their daughters, of future generations.

Searching for SilverheelsFRONTSmThis is what inspired me to write SEARCHING FOR SILVERHEELS, a story of women on the home front during World War I, the challenges they face, and all the ways they must find strength to meet them. It is my tribute to the universal truths of womanhood, across the generations, whether or not we live in an era that acknowledges them.



I’ve been busy, busy, busy, working with the fabulous Kirsten Cappy of Curious City, putting together some fun and games for book clubs!  So today, I’m proud to announce, a new book club kit for my book SEARCHING FOR SILVERHEELS!  This book would be a great choice for readers ranging in age from about 10-14 (although adults have told me they enjoyed the book as well!) It might be a good choice for mother-daughter book clubs, or groups interested in the 100th anniversary of World War I, or researching the heroines of the suffrage movement!


All the best recipes are the ones with the splattered up pages.

What, you ask, is a book club kit? Well, it’s 20 pages chock full of stuff to make your book club meeting more fun! Including:

  • Menu items, to have a book club lunch or snack, including recipes from the era that came directly from my great-grandma, transcribed from  my grandmother’s recipe book
  • Crafts that fit the themes of the book
  • Decorations, to take your club meeting back in time


What’s that you say? You aren’t looking for fun? You have a serious book club that prefers a more intellectual approach to reading and discussing?

You can take this book club thing as seriously as you want!

Fear not, academically minded reader!  Those twenty pages also include:

  • Thought provoking discussion questions, chapter by chapter
  • Historical background about the era and the place to make you even smarter.
  • Web links to sites with primary historical documents and photographs to learn more about the suffrage movement, World War I, and Como, Colorado, where the story is set.

But wait! There’s more!

  • Read alikes (other books with similar themes that readers might want to explore)
  • Videos (for young and old, that address women’s suffrage–be prepared for an ear worm)
  • Advertising help for bookstores, schools, or libraries hosting the book club meeting
  • Instructions on arranging a free Skype visit with the author during your book club meeting

What would you pay for a valuable resource like this?




And does it come with a free set of Ginsu knives????

Sorry, folks. No knives. BUT, to make up for that, we’ve made the SEARCHING FOR SILVERHEELS BOOK CLUB KIT


That’s right. Absolutely free. You can download it for FREE here at my website.


City-Banner-2Because for a limited time, if you are a librarian, teacher, or book club organizer, you can not only download the book club kit, but you can enter to win a free copy of SEARCHING FOR SILVERHEELS over at Curious City. And while you are there, browse around for the other great reading enrichment materials they provide free of charge!

And most of all, happy reading!!!