Hidden Histories Trauma Workshop held at First World War Engagement Centres ‘Diversity’ Festival

Associate Professor Nigel Hunt (The University of Nottingham) and Dr Larissa Allwork (The University of Derby) presented their first community workshop on trauma and the First World War at the ‘Diversity’ festival on Saturday 23rd March. The two-day event was organised by Voices of War and Peace at Midland’s Arts Centre  and it also featured presentations by Hidden Histories network members Irfan Malik, Kiran Sahota, Garry Stewart and Professor Jane Chapman.

Providing public engagement training to the next generation of researchers, Nigel and Larissa have been preparing their workshop with the assistance of University of Nottingham doctoral researchers, Andrea Kocurkova and Shruti Raghuraman. The purpose of the trauma and the First World War workshop is to encourage family historians and community researchers to consider dealing with this topic as part of their investigations into the history of the First World War, particularly as the centenary commemorations are now turning towards thinking about the aftermath and legacies of the conflict.

Working in dialogue between the disciplines of Psychology and History, the workshop provides an introduction to how trauma was understood during the First World War, offers a range of primary sources that can be used in tracing trauma through the archives, and encourages participants to think about how they could devise their own history project on trauma and the 1914-18 conflict. To facilitate this process, all participants are given a research guide and bibliography to take home with them after the session. Click here to access a copy of the Trauma & the FWW Research Guide and Bibliography

 

For the first session in Birmingham, the team worked with ten highly engaged participants. Historical sources that were discussed in detail included Siegfried Sassoon’s poem, ‘Survivors’; a compilation of oral history testimonies on the aftermath of war from the East Midlands Oral History Archive; a 1919 Sanatogen advert claiming to cure shell shock and a letter to the Ministry of Pensions from a former VAD suffering with the onset of post-war neurasthenia.

Given the theme of the conference which was ‘Diversity’ we also talked about war neuroses in the global context, through the censored mail of Indian soldiers at the Brighton Hospital and court-martials which occurred beyond the Western Front.

Projects that were suggested by participants included:

  • Re-visiting the histories of hospitals like Birmingham to see how they treated soldiers with war neuroses.
  • The use of trauma frameworks to analyse the diaries and memoirs of nurses and VADs who worked with refugees.
  • The use of historical primary sources in schools to introduce the topic of the First World War, shell shock and trauma.
  • Community history projects in relation to those men who were ‘shot at dawn’ and were excluded from commemoration in local UK war memorials.

Participants in the Birmingham workshop gave the following feedback about the session: 

“Good workshop very in-depth, comprehensive and professional.”

“Excellent discussion and useful resources to help develop thinking further.”

The workshop changed my understanding of the First World War because it covered: “The effect of trauma on whole communities as well as individuals and their loved ones.”

The Trauma and the First World War team will be appearing at Family Tree Live on Friday 26th April at Alexandra Palace, London. The team will also be presenting the trauma and the First World War workshop at the First World War Engagement Centre festivals across the UK this summer – catch us at sessions in Omagh (May), Cardiff (July) and Glasgow (August). More details in relation to dates, times and venues will be posted on Twitter (@hidden_hist).

Alternatively, if you have an idea in relation to a trauma and the First World War project, do not hesitate to get in touch with us to discuss: Nigel.Hunt@nottingham.ac.uk and L.Allwork@derby.ac.uk  

 

 

Call for Papers: The First World War: Past, Present, Future

Call for Papers: The First World War: Past, Present, Future

Edinburgh Napier University, Craiglockhart Campus

27 & 28 June 2019

 

An image of the Craiglockhart Hydropathic mental hospital

In the wake of the centenary of the First World War, The First World War Network seeks to build upon the success of its inaugural event at IWM North in February 2016 by reflecting upon the first century of First World War history, celebrating current, pioneering research into all areas of the conflict, and producing an ambitious, transnational framework for the future direction of scholarship on the twentieth century’s first global conflagration.

The organisers welcome contributions that examine the local, regional, national, and international dimensions of First World War history, that provide diverse and interdisciplinary approaches to the study of the conflict, and/or that emphasise the war’s multiple legacies and impacts. We aim to bring together the latest in academic scholarship with participation from heritage agencies, libraries, museums, archives, community groups, individual researchers and all those with a shared desire to sustain interest in furthering knowledge and understanding of this seminal event. Alongside a range of traditional presentations, the conference will include poster presentations and roundtable discussions on the future of First World War studies with participants drawn from across the academic and public sphere.

Abstracts for individual twenty-minute papers, panels of three connected papers, and posters which focus upon any aspect of the past and present of First World War studies are invited. Suggested themes may include, but are not limited to:

●      The conduct of the war

●      The politics of the war

●      Commemoration/remembrance

●      Community projects

●      Forgotten theatres

●      Wounding and its aftermath

●      The centenary

●      Cultural responses to the war

●      Uses of the war

●      Historiographical trends

●      Gendered aspects of warfare

●      Local, regional, national or international responses

●      Dominant discourses

●      Myth and memory

●      Understanding/coping with death

●      Peace making

●      Silence

●      Learning from the war

The working language of the conference will be English. Abstracts of 250 words should be accompanied by your name, institutional/organisational affiliation (if any), and a biographical statement of up to 100 words. Submissions for complete panels should also include a statement of up to 250 words outlining the relationship between the individual papers. A ‘flash presentation’ session will take place during the conference, in which poster displayers can introduce and discuss the research behind their displays.

We wish to encourage submissions from academics, students, institutions, organisations, independent researchers, and community groups. In line with our mission to encourage and support postgraduate students and early career researchers, a number of bursaries will be available to individuals who fall into this category to assist their attendance at the conference. In addition, the First World War Network will be coordinating opportunities for postgraduate students and early career researchers who participate in the conference to engage in a peer mentoring scheme. Please indicate upon your submission if you wish to be considered for a bursary and/or the peer mentoring scheme.

All submissions and enquiries should be sent by email to: fwwnetwork@gmail.com

The deadline for submissions will be: 14 December 2018

The organising committee aim to notify all applicants of their decision by 1 February 2019.

The Venue

Located to the south-west of the Scottish capital, the Craiglockhart campus of Edinburgh Napier University possesses a famous link to the First World War. The campus, commandeered for use as a military hospital for the treatment of shell-shocked officers, provided both the location for the first meeting between the poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen and the site upon which Dr William H. Rivers made significant advances in psychiatric treatment. The campus is now home to the War Poets Collection, a tribute to Sassoon, Owen, and their contemporaries whose words have provided a significant and lasting effect upon the public memory of the conflict.

A permanent exhibition allows visitors to view the collection, and gain an insight into the personal and social experiences of war through the words, memories, voices and objects that the officers, medical staff and relatives of those associated with Craiglockhart Military Hospital left behind.

 

Trauma and the First World War: Public Engagement Update

In June 2018, Professor Nigel Hunt and Dr Larissa Allwork launched a project exploring narratives of trauma from the First World War. The project was promoted by the First World War Engagement Centres (Living LegaciesEveryday Lives in War, Voices of War and Peace, Gateways) and it also received coverage on the genealogical websites of Family Tree and Who Do You Think You Are Magazine? Here are some of the responses to Nigel and Larissa’s call for interest in their project.

‘Colour Cure Ward’, 1918 (Mary Evans Picture Library).

Lucinda Moore, Picture Researcher at London’s Mary Evans Picture Library contacted the project team to inform us about this fascinating advert for Lewis Berger and Sons paint that appeared in the British periodical Colour (March 1918). The advert is an illustrated representation of the Kemp-Prosser ‘colour cure’ ward at McCaul Hospital, Welbeck Street, London. Mr Kemp-Prosser believed that colours could affect people’s mental health and developed coloured environments that he believed could assist in the recovery of shell shock and nerve cases. Here the ceiling is ‘firmament blue’, the walls ‘sunlight yellow’, the woodwork ‘spring green’ and the floor and furniture ‘sunlight primrose’.  To read Lucinda’s full blog about the often forgotten story of Kemp-Prosser, please follow this link.

M.A. from Tasmania in Australia got in touch with the project team to tell us about her great grandfather, W.J. He served during the First World War in France. One of the tasks that he was given was collecting the dead and war wounded from the battlefield. His legs were badly affected from his time serving in the military. When he returned home to Wales after the war, he suffered with mental illness. He turned to alcohol and became violent towards his family. He was subsequently put into a private asylum in Pontypridd and is thought to have died in 1928. M.A.’s grandfather, grandmother and uncle emigrated to Australia in November 1947. M.A feels that it is important to draw attention to these often hidden histories of mental distress. If you know anything about the history of Pontypridd asylum, get in touch with Professor Nigel Hunt and he will pass on M.A.’s contact details to you.

Headway Cambridgeshire, a charity committed to supporting people with brain injuries has also contacted the team to tell us about their project, ‘Impact! Brain Injuries and World War I’.  Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, this project explores and interprets the history of people with brain injuries in Cambridgeshire as a result of the First World War. It is being led by a group of people with brain injuries that currently attend Headway Cambridgeshire. The work is part of their rehabilitation and also aims to improve public awareness of brain injury and its effects. The group are researching the untold history of the people in the Cambridgeshire Regiment who received brain injuries, the hospitals in Cambridge where they were treated and, where appropriate, their own families’ involvement in the First World War. They will use the information they unearth to commission a drama performance by a group of students from a local school. Illustration and Creative writing students from Anglia Ruskin University will develop a set of four posters that will be displayed on the back and interior of the Stagecoach buses in Cambridge. Radio station Cambridge 105 is running a regular podcast that will provide project progress updates. The Centre for Hidden Histories looks forward to hearing more.

Finally, the project team have heard from a number of researchers working on issues related to trauma and the First World War. Nancy Connors, who is an alumni of the University of Pennsylvania and has completed an MA in Social Work, is currently using the tools of social work in order to explore the development of individual social histories and community social capital in relation to specific female Belgian refugees and narratives of dislocation. Meanwhile, Michael Robinson (The University of Liverpool) has researched the postwar treatment of shell shocked veterans. He has explored how the British and Irish state responded to mentally ill veterans and what socio-economic and political factors influenced their treatment and recovery. Primary sources used by Michael include medical registers/data, individual pension files, state records, lunatic asylum records, medical journals and charities records. Read this fascinating blog by Michael which advocates for a four nations and global approach to the study of the First World War and shell shock.  Look out for his forthcoming book which has recently been contracted by Manchester University Press.