Women’s World Cheer-up Club

Pam’s Pictorama Post: Here at Pictorama in recent years we’ve developed a particular soft spot for medals. My discovery of school medals lead to recent post (which can be found here) about these emblems of encouragement that seemed to proliferate as awards in schools in the early part of the 20th century. Improvement! Excellence! Who doesn’t want a daily reminder of these qualities cheering them on? Somehow I imagine accumulating numerous ones to wear on a lapel together although this has not yet manifested.

These school award are not the beribboned ones for athletic prowess or competition, but smaller and sweeter in my opinion. I have both a US example and one from Canada. I have to believe that equivalents existed in Europe. Somehow I like to imagine an earlier society where pins like these proliferated. This one is brass and appears a bit more mass produced than my school awards which would have been, I think, produced blank and then etched with cheering motivations subsequently.

Improvement, Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

I am reminded of those pins by this odd kissing cousin of an item I purchased a few months back from a British jewelry dealer (I have written about purchases from @Wassail_antiques frequently before, a recent post can be found here – hey Rachel!) and while making another purchase I decided that I would acquire this pin from her shop too. I had been eyeing it and in the end I would be disappointed to see it go to someone else. It seems to belong here with me.

Australian. 2 tons of jam made for the troops!

I did think it would be easier to find information about the Women’s Cheer-up Club than it has turned out to be. My limited research skills finally confirmed what I more or less thought I would discover, which is that the Cheer-ups were British societies in WWI. It seems to be an umbrella term for a loosely defined group of organizations which provided comfort and entertainment for troops during the war, raising money for these activities and also to create other resources for soldiers such as physiotherapy and the development of remedial skills. Drives were held for food, clothing and books for the troops as well and I believe some of these ultimately became veterans associations.

Australia. More than 125,000 pairs of socks made and sent to the troops.

I found one other of these pins while doing my research – for sale on Etsy – and it was the exact same one, although it seems there must have been variations on the theme I could find none. The references I ultimately found were largely archival period newspaper articles writing up the activities of a local branch of a Cheer-up Club. The references I found were not specifically to it as a women’s association.

Australian. Instruction book for knitting socks for the troops circa 1915.

Southern Australia had an active equivalent and I was able to find more about those than the British clubs, the establishment of them and the doings of the groups. The Australian Society Cheer-up also seeked to care for their troops abroad as well as at home and there are articles about Cheer-up Huts for Australian soldiers in Britain during the war.

In addition to, of course, urging people to cheer up these pins were a brand of patriotism during that time. I imagine that sporting such a pin might also show a soldier, perhaps on leave in an unfamiliar place, where he might find a hot meal and gathering spot in the area. Of course, it also encouraged people to cheer up during a dark time and now it sits on a shelf near my desk where it does that for me as needed too.

4 thoughts on “Women’s World Cheer-up Club

  1. I am under the impression that this one is likely British although I really couldn’t trace it specifically. I purchased it from Great Britain and certainly the clubs were popular there (and in Australia) – perhaps more so than here.


    • Hello, I have this badge as well and live in Australia. Like you I have researched and found the Cheer Up ‘Clubs’ were established in the UK. Whereas in Australia a Cheer Up ‘Society’ was started in South Australia and I’m unable to find the Society in other States or badges. I have asked help from badge collecting groups in Australia but has not been identified. What I’m questioning to myself, I would have thought especially in Britain where the clubs were well known and their activities can be found in newspapers it has not be linked to the Cheer Up Clubs there. Again, help was asked from a badge collecting group in Britain without it being identified. I do think our badges are British because of your purchase. My research is now focusing on early Women feminism in Britain based on the age of the badge, quality and the ‘message’ of women’s hands clasping and reaching out to the world. The movement of feminism could also explain the badge being rare ? The quality of the badge in its history is also significant. “Woman’s World” a magazine in Britain, short lived and edited in the late 1890’s could be linked and the inspiration came from there? Thank you for your post and reply. It’s been interesting and maybe one day more information will be found for us.


      • Fascinating! I will check again with Rachel the woman I purchased it from who lives in the British countryside and see if she has any thoughts about how she purchased it. I hadn’t t thought about it being part of the feminist movement but you’re right. (I have a post I loved researching where it turns out that an early feminist had a factory on the East End of London where indigent women were employed to make Felix the Cat toys – you can’t make this stuff up!)
        I will say however that I personally wouldn’t mind some cheer up club today…


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