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Engagement Centres living legacies engagement centre

Spanish Flu: A Global Pandemic

In our latest Blog Post, Claire Ablett from National Museums of Northern Ireland, reflects on the Lecture on “Spanish Flu: A Global Pandemic”, held in partnership with Living Legacies – One of the Arts & Humanities Research Councils funded World War One Engagement Centres.

As the First World War was drawing to a close and the prospect of peace began to materialise, a deadly virus emerged. This influenza strain, commonly known as the Spanish Flu, resulted in the deaths of between 20 and 50 million people, a higher death toll than that of the First World War. The Spanish Flu conference aimed to highlight the largely forgotten history of this global pandemic with particular focus on how the disease affected people in Ireland and the medical advancements that were made during this period.

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Engagement Centre Projects Engagement Centres living legacies engagement centre

‘Battlebags and Blimps’–uncovering our lost WW1 aviation heritage

In our latest Blog Post, Keith Lilley talks about the impact of military flying during WW1, their flying stations and Ireland’s rich history of such establishments that include aerodromes and airship stations.

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Engagement Centres living legacies engagement centre

Digital First World War content: From deluge to drought

In this latest Blog post by Paul Ell, the phenomenon of “Digital Overload” is mapped against the appetite for information on WW1.

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Commemorations WW1 Engagement Centres Gateways to the First World War Engagement Centre Projects

100 miles for 100 years: First World War themed trails in Kent

“100 Miles for 100 years” has developed 37 self-guided First World War themed heritage trails for Kent, enabling local communities to actively engage with their local heritage. People can discover more about the people of the time and the impact that the First World War had on local communities in an easy to follow, interesting manner in either a digital or printed format, all of which is accessible through one portal. The variety of information is designed to engage and provide modern day relevance, not just for the enthusiast, but for people with little knowledge of the period.

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Commemorations WW1 Community Engagement Engagement Centres

Finding the ‘women like us’ in the First World War

In this guest Blog for Women’s History Month, Dr Julie Moore  from the University of Hertfordshire  and the AHRC’s WW1 Engagement Centre Everyday Lives in War‘, talks about the ways in which community researchers are engaging with some of the less well-known stories of women’s everyday experiences during the First World War, and calls for community researchers to put themselves on the record.

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Commemorations WW1 Engagement Centre Projects Engagement Centres Research schools liaison

The Centre for Hidden Histories: Taking the First World War into Schools

Pupils from Blue Coat Junior School give a performance at St Matthew’s Church, Walsall on Remembrance Day 2016

The Centre for Hidden Histories: Taking the First World War into Schools

By Michael Noble, Centre Co-ordinator for the AHRC Funded WW1 Engagement Centre for Hidden Histories. More details on these Centres can be found by looking at the AHRC’s website.  

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Co-ordinating Centres

Everyday Lives in War launches

There was a strong community focus to the launch event of the Everyday Lives in War centre last week at the University of Hertfordshire. The last – but certainly not the least – of the AHRC-funded World War One Engagement Centres to launch, the event attracted a wide range of community groups to talk about their work and their collaborations, and to find out about how they could get involved in the work of the centre.

Three-minute talks from organisations as diverse as the Herts at War project, the Luton Museum and the University of Reading’s Huntley and Palmer Archive began the day. David Souden from the Historic Palaces spoke about a project to lay red ceramic roses, one for each of the 888,000 British and Colonial soldiers killed in the First World War, in the dry moat around the Tower of London. He and Alastair Massie from the National Army Museum reminded us all of the strong national as well as local links being forged by the Engagement Centres.

A panel session followed, which examined objects and artefacts brought in by members of the public. Fascinating insights followed from members of the panel, such as Alan Wakefield from the Imperial War Museum, Dan Hill from the Herts at War project, Gareth Hughes of the Western Front Association, Mike Roper, Jim Hughes and Rachel Duffett of the Everyday Lives centre, and others. Objects discussed included a Princess Mary box – given to every soldier who fought for the British during the War, including, we heard, soldiers from the Empire – photos, medals and even fragments of a shot-down zeppelin.

Dan Hill from the Herts at War project speaking at the panel session
Dan Hill from the Herts at War project speaking at the panel session

The themes covered by the centre will include food and farming, conscientious objection and military tribunals, supernatural beliefs and theatre and entertainment. To emphasise the last of these themes, those attending were treated to a performance of JM Barrie’s A Well Remembered Voice of 1918.

All in all, the launch was a memorable event with a strong focus on community and public interest in the First World War commemoration, which augurs well for the coming months and years. Good luck Everyday Lives in War

For further information, please go to the AHRC website.

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Co-ordinating Centres

Launch of Gateways to the First World War, Friday 30th May 2014

Last week saw the launch of Gateways to the First World War, one of five AHRC-funded centres designed to mark the centenary of the conflict, and to enhance public engagement with it. Gateways is based at the University of Kent and brings together a team of researchers from the Universities of Portsmouth, Brighton, Greenwich, Leeds and Queen Mary, London. The launch was part of a First World War Study day organised by the University of Kent’s German Department. The event was opened by Professor John Baldock, the University of Kent’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research, who expressed the university’s pleasure in hosting the Centre and introduced an afternoon of debate and discussion on the First World War and its commemoration.

Dominieck Dendoveen, Dr Suzanne Bardgett, His Excellency Dr Emil Brix and Dr Deborah Holmes discuss how and why we should commemorate the First World War
Dominieck Dendoveen, Dr Suzanne Bardgett, His Excellency Dr Emil Brix and Dr Deborah Holmes discuss how and why we should commemorate the First World War

One of the highlights of the event was a panel discussion on the commemoration of the First World War chaired by the event’s organiser, Dr Deborah Holmes of the German Department, and featuring Dr Emil Brix, Austria’s Ambassador to the UK, Dr Suzanne Bardgett, the Imperial War Museum’s Director of Research, and Dominiek Dendooven of In Flanders Fields Museum, Belgium. The panel led a fascinating discussion of both the problems and benefits of commemorating an event often complicated by ‘contested memories’. Dr Brix expressed his belief in the importance of European collaboration in the commemoration of the war, and Mr Dendooven discussed the ways in which the Flanders Field Museum is attempting to overcome national boundaries through exhibitions focused on individual war experiences. Dr Bardgett outlined some of the exciting centenary projects supported by the Imperial War Museum, including Lives of the First World War, the First World War Partnership, and Whose Remembrance?, the IWM’s project to investigate the role of colonial troops in the conflict. The discussion reinforced one of the key aims of the Gateways project: to encourage academics and the wider public to work together to discover connections between the local and the global during the First World War. As Gateways’ Director Professor Mark Connelly stated, the conflict was, for Kent and the South East in particular, a ‘global event with global repercussions’ which took place ‘on the doorstep’.

Gateways Director Professor Mark Connelly with His Excellency Dr Emil Brix,  Dr Deborah Holmes and Dr Heide Kunzelmann
Gateways Director Professor Mark Connelly with His Excellency Dr Emil Brix,
Dr Deborah Holmes and Dr Heide Kunzelmann

The panel discussion was followed by an illustrated lecture by Professor Connelly and Dr Heide Kunzelmann of the German Department, presenting photographs taken of troop mobilisation and prisoners of war in 1914 by Dr Kunzelmann’s great-grandfather, a medical officer in the Habsburg Army. Comparing these newly discovered sources to photographs taken by British officers in 1914, the pair talked about the connections between the personal and the public, and the similarities between artefacts of the First World War from different sides of the conflict. Through their discussion of the photographs – which focused on the themes of mobilization, violence, vulnerability and reconstruction – they emphasised the importance of revisiting accepted and established approaches to the conflict.

Photographs taken by Dr Friedrich Kunzelmann in 1914
Photographs taken by Dr Friedrich Kunzelmann in 1914

The event ended with a drinks reception and official launch of the Gateways to the First World War centre. Professor Connelly and Dr Will Butler outlined some of the centenary projects already underway, including a collaboration with Step Short of Folkestone on an app tour highlighting the town’s connections to the conflict, and guests were shown the newly-launched Gateways website. After a successful opening event, the Gateways team is now looking forward to developing its work with local groups and organisations on a range of First World War projects across the UK. The Centre aims to encourage and support public interest in the conflict through a range of events and activities such as open days and study days, providing access to materials and expertise, and signposting for other resources and forms of support. Forthcoming events include:

19th July 2014 – 25th January 2015 – ‘Lest We Forget’, an exhibition in conjunction with Portsmouth City Council

13th September 2014 – A Family History Day at Brighton Museum in conjunction with Brighton Museums and Pavilion

28th September 2014Gateways to the First World War Public Open Day, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

12th December 2014 – ‘Representations of the Christmas Truce’, a one day symposium at the University of Kent

More details of these and many other projects can be found on the Gateways website. The Gateways team can be contacted at gateways@kent.ac.uk and via Twitter and Facebook.

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Research

The significance of the centenary

other-signifiance2

What does the nature of a centenary commemoration tell us about collective memory and current social attitudes? How have commemorations changed over time? What are the most appropriate ways to handle the remembrance of traumatic or politically sensitive events?

These are just some of the questions explored by ‘The Significance of the Centenary’, an AHRC-funded research network. Find out more in a feature article just published on the AHRC website.

The network is led by the University of Birmingham in collaboration with the Universities of Cardiff and Sheffield, the National Library of Wales, and Historic Royal Palaces, an independent charity looking after sites such as the Tower of London and Hampton Court.