The ‘Map Girls’. British women geographers’ war work, shifting gender boundaries and reflections on the history of geography



This paper focuses on bringing to light the little-known war work of women who used their geographical skills and training in their war service, principally under the headings of university teaching, contributing to Naval Intelligence Handbooks and working in the armed services and the Admiralty's Hydrographic Department. The research is based on archive sources, obituaries and other secondary sources, as well as a small number of oral history interviews. This work is placed in the context of debates on the gendered boundaries of public/combatant and private/non-combatant in war, and gender and the state. The significance of gender as a methodological and conceptual category in the history of geography is discussed in the light of evidence from women geographers’ war work.