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Family Life in the 1950s

Oral History Account

Rene Smith worked as a weaver at Armley Mills in Leeds during the 1950s. She started work in 1941, when she was just 14 years old. Rene agreed to return to the mill to allow pupils from a local school to interview her about what life was life for mill workers in the 1950s.


The children devised a set of interview questions to pose to Rene about her job and her life outside work. The video clip attached to this page shows Rene's responses to questions posed to her about entertainment and hobbies in the 1950s. 


In this video clip Rene answers questions the children asked about her family life in the 1950s, including:

  • Did you play with your children and what games did you play?
  • Did you have any pets at home?
  • What were the dogs called?
  • Did you have a family schedule and did the children help around the house?

You can also watch further clips of Rene answering questions on subjects such as working in the mill and health and safety.


Children can be encouraged to use this example to conduct their own interviews with family members or research what life was like in their own local area during the 1950s.