War trauma among Belgian refugee women in Scotland in the First World War

Jacqueline Jenkinson, Caroline Verdier

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This article analyses the evidence for war trauma suffered by First World War Belgian female refugee civilians using a range of primary sources which describe the period of their residence in Scotland. Evidence of such war trauma is explored by analysing the descriptions of symptoms and applicant behaviour for a cohort of case studies of women (and several children and men) which have been constructed from the detailed personal information provided in Poor Law admission registers and patient case notes from psychiatric and general hospital stays. The individual case histories discussed are considered in relation to internationally recognised definitions of war trauma. The article places the original primary source findings in the context of the vast traditional historiography on ‘shell shock’ and the more recent writing on female civilians in war. This article sheds fresh light on historical debates about human security in the First World War, gender issues in war, understandings of war trauma, and family life on the home front.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1057-1077
Number of pages21
JournalWomen's History Review
Issue number7
Early online date9 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2019


  • Belgian refugees
  • First World War
  • trauma
  • war trauma
  • civilians
  • poor law
  • asylums


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