Evidence record card

Date: 1911/2
Rhondda women: self-sacrifice "taken for granted"

By 1911, one of the most spectacular movements of population in British history was virtually complete. During the period 1871-1911, the population of the Rhondda valleys grew from about 24,000 to 152,000. Attention has tended to focus on the working conditions of the thousands of men who came from rural West Wales or from the declining iron industry of Merthyr to dig for steam coal in the Rhondda. However, conditions were arguably even harder for the women they married. According to historian Dot Jones, “The Rhondda valleys were physically isolated, other industries were absent and there were few opportunities for women’s employment outside the home. Thus the role of a woman of the Rhondda was defined in relation to their husband’s occupation. Her sacrifice was taken for granted. Yet her domestic labour in the home was, like the miner’s labour at the coalface, also hard, dirty and dangerous”.