Recuperation, Revival and Survival. A Humanitarian Lace-Aid Programme in Occupied Belgium during the First World War

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Abstract

Since the mid-nineteenth century, humanitarian organizations have developed a growing number of handicraft programmes. However, most studies of craft heritage and development aid are contemporary in focus. In addition, recent histories of humanitarianism argue that the First World War was a turning point in the development of modern humanitarianism, but they are often limited to the analysis of food and medical assistance. This paper contributes to filling that gap. In particular, it investigates why humanitarian organizations and their aid beneficiaries respectively developed and entered handicraft programmes in the past. A transnational lace-aid programme, set up to support Belgian lacemakers in occupied Belgium during the First World War, serves as a case study. The Belgian philanthropic committee Comité de la Dentelle collaborated with the American relief organization Commission for Relief in Belgium to provide the lacemakers with materials to produce lace destined for sale in the US and the Allied Countries. Using newly uncovered archival sources, this paper demonstrates each group’s motivations for participating in the lace-aid programme.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Belgian History
Issue number4
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 23 May 2022

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