Living Through Wartime

Female War Memoirs and Other Self-narratives of the Great War in the Ottoman Empire

  • Nicole A. N. M. van Os Leiden Institute for Area Studies at Leiden University
Keywords: First World War, self-narratives, social history, women’s history


Archival sources, but also self-narratives, newspapers, and periodicals, have been im- portant sources for political and military historians of the last two decennia of the Ot- toman Empire in general and the First World War in particular. In recent years, an increasing number of historians have become interested in more than the political and military history of the period. The field has been broadened to include social history. Conventional sources have been reread to get a better understanding of the effects of the War on the social domains and everyday life. Self-narratives have proven to be in- valuable sources for social historians working on the period. These self-narratives were not only produced by the men in charge, but by people from all walks of life: soldiers and civilians, men and women noted down their wartime experiences in their diaries or letters home and in memoirs and autobiographies. In most cases, the self-narratives used by historians were, however, those written by men in which women were objecti- fied. In this paper, the self-narratives of women living in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War are preliminarily explored to give them a voice and turn them into subjects rather than objects.


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Author Biography

Nicole A. N. M. van Os, Leiden Institute for Area Studies at Leiden University

Nicole A.N.M. van Os is an affiliated researcher at the Leiden Institute for Area Studies at Leiden University, the Netherlands. Dr. Os studied anthropology and Middle Eastern studies at Nijmegen University, the Netherlands. She has been working on Ottoman women’s history since the late 1980s. Her special fields of interest are women’s organisations and women and the military during the late Ottoman Period. In 2013 she received her Ph.D. from Leiden University with a thesis titled »Feminism, Philanthropy & Patriotism: Female Associational Life in the Ottoman Empire.« She is the author of extensive bibliographies on women in the Ottoman Empire available at and recently, she has compiled an “Overview of digital sources for the Study of the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey.”

How to Cite
van Os, N. A. N. M. (2021). Living Through Wartime: Female War Memoirs and Other Self-narratives of the Great War in the Ottoman Empire. Archiv orientální, 88(3), 449-472.