They’re seen elbow deep in fish guts, high up a hill, behind the wheel of a red open-top sports car, recalling bombing sheriff officers with bags stuffed with soot and peasemeal before throwing them in the midden.

As the camera rolled, women played the bagpipes and rowed boats, taught, typed, tinkered with the car and quietly questioned why teachers bothered when it seemed all they wanted them to do was get married and run a home.

Captured in hazy black and white and glorious technicolour, a collection of films which document the varied roles of women in Scotland through the last century are set to return to the screen, providing a glimpse into their hopes, domestic and workplace drudgery and their refusal to conform.

The rare footage has been brought together for a new touring programme dedicated to women on the screen which spans the Edwardian era to the Thatcher years.

A joint project involving Film Hub Scotland and the National Library of Scotland, Her Century will tour the country with the intention of sparking debate about the lives of women in the past and reflecting on how the challenges they faced paved the way for women today.

Among the films are educational and promotional material often commissioned by government to help steer women towards the right careers or to offer advice on health and behaviour.

They are accompanied by amateur footage capturing women sharing a laugh or caring for family, and government propaganda and war-time film.

The woman range from crofters to campaigners, schoolgirls to factory workers carrying out duties amid grime and fish workers, some little more than 14-years-old who have left their family home to work in stinking processing yards in the south of England.

Dr Emily Munro, Her Century curator and Learning and Outreach Officer for the National Library of Scotland, said the collection of films, which were screened in their entirety at the Macrobert Centre in Stirling yesterday, reflect a time of rapid social change, when a "woman’s place" was increasingly contested and redefined.

“It’s as much about what we’re missing from the films as what we can see in them,” she said.

“We can see from the films that some things have changed for the better, but that there are also some things we have lost, such as traditional industries which were often were women worked.

“I wanted something that is celebratory and positive about women, but also that raises questions for people.”

Among the earliest films to feature in the project is a 1910 film Herring Harvest at Yarmouth, showing ‘Scotch lassies’ at work some 600 miles from home.

“Some of the girls were just 14 or 15 years old,” added Dr Munro, “but would have left home and travelled all that way because that was where the work was.”

Other films focus on clippies and domestic science lessons, biscuit factory workers at Macfarlane Lang’s Glasgow factory making Rich Tea and cream crackers and women making rifles at a furniture makers' workshop during the Second World War, and inspiring 1933 silent footage of Winnie Drinkwater, a pilot and aviation pioneer.

In contrast is a 1980 Scottish Health Education Unit film, Male and Female, made by Jewish-Indian film-maker Sara Erulker and intended to be shown to teenagers as part of a series aimed at guiding them into adulthood.

“It was meant to be open-ended and not prescriptive which is quite fascinating in itself, and addressed issues in teenagers’ lives such as sexual relationship, drunkenness, and gender expectations,” said Dr Munro.

“Male and Female is a fascinating film; some of the views the teenagers’ have are quite progressive and others are quite conservative.

“The reflects the moment in time, where new freedoms and possibilities were emerging but also there was political conservatism.

“The film was made in Glasgow and featured local teenagers, so it would be particularly interesting to find out what happened to them.”

While some of the films have been made by women, they rarely reflect strong feminist views. However, one film made by two women from Sheffield Film Co-operative in 1984, Red Skirts on Clydeside, does examine of the most celebrated of women’s battles - the Glasgow Rent Strikes of 1915, told through the voices of the women descendants.

“It’s interesting that this film wasn’t made by women who lived in Scotland – or even men in Scotland,” adds Dr Munro. “It’s almost as if we were ambivalent about our own social political history as far as women were concerned.

“The film poses important questions about why women’s history is so hidden, and where can you go to hear about it.”

While some films show women taking on male roles during the Second World War, another highlights the impact of women ‘having it all’ and urges communities to come together to support vulnerable children left at home while women go to work.

Dr Munro says taken together, the films spotlight the great variation in women’s roles over the period, and draw on the variety of ways in which women and girls are represented on film, as scholars, workers, mothers and friends.

The Her Century programme is being accompanied by a ‘zine’ featuring women writers exploring the experiences, identities and perspectives of young women and girls.

Sambrooke Scott, Film Hub Scotland Manager said: “We’re delighted that Her Century is screening across the breadth of the Film Hub Scotland network, from the Isle of Tiree to St Andrews, over the next six months until International Women’s Day in March 2020. We’re dedicated to bringing archive film to audiences across Scotland and collaborating with partners; Her Century has the power to spark important discussions about equality that we can all contribute to.”