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Sinners? Scroungers? Saints?Unmarried Motherhood in Twentieth-Century England$
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Pat Thane and Tanya Evans

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199578504

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199578504.001.0001

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The Second World War: Another Moral Panic

The Second World War: Another Moral Panic

(p.54) 3 The Second World War: Another Moral Panic
Sinners? Scroungers? Saints?

Pat Thane

Tanya Evans

Oxford University Press

‘Illegitimacy’ increased again during the Second World War, causing another moral panic about rampant sexuality among young people. Official statistics showed reality: pre-marital pregnancy was common before the war, but absence of fathers at war prevented many marriages, leading to more unmarried motherhood. Different experiences of civilian mothers, war workers, and pregnant servicewomen. Problems of mixed-race babies. Inadequacy of public services when families couldn't or wouldn't help. NC and other voluntary agencies vital and called on by the state to help. New services introduced, leading to permanent improvements in welfare after the war. Individual wartime life stories: a woman civil servant supported by her family and colleagues, other women rejected; Eric Clapton discovers his ‘mother’ is his grandmother, his ‘sister’ his mother. Traumatic for him.

Keywords:   unmarried mothers, illegitimacy, voluntary action, family history, welfare history, Second World War, servicewomen, mixed-race relationships

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