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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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Unmarried Mothers in the ‘Welfare State’

Unmarried Mothers in the ‘Welfare State’

(p.106) 5 Unmarried Mothers in the ‘Welfare State’
Sinners? Scroungers? Saints?

Pat Thane

Tanya Evans

Oxford University Press

Real improvements for poorer unmarried mothers in the Welfare State created by the post-war Labour Government, building on the wartime experience of inadequate public services for mothers and children. The new NHS brought safer childbirth. Benefits improved, but housing was hard to find and they were often excluded from council housing. Many voluntary Mother and Baby Homes remained grim and women avoided them where possible, but they gradually improved. The NC worked with state agencies to bring about these improvements and to help mothers negotiate the benefit system and to train for and find work, as most mothers wanted. Many were better educated and more confident than before the war. Most lived on their earnings and/or help from the father or their family. NC also helped mothers of children whose father was an overseas serviceman who had returned home and women who had babies by British servicemen abroad.

Keywords:   unmarried mothers, illegitimacy, family history, welfare history, Mother and Baby Homes, voluntary action

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