June has been a busy month for Centre for Hidden Histories representatives.
On Friday 23rd, the University of Derby held an afternoon symposium on ‘Community, Identity and Commemoration’. Centre for Hidden Histories Co-Investigator, Professor Paul Elliott gave a lecture on ‘World War One: Recovering a Hidden History of the Home Front’. Discussing the use of public parks in war-time, with particular focus on Derby, Paul showed the importance of the parks as sites for a range of public functions. These included military uses such as practice trenches, recruitment, drilling grounds and defensive gun emplacements. Parks were also used for civic functions as sites for hospitals, schools and crop growing. Finally, parks provided a forum for spaces of social gathering, from arenas of leisure for troops on leave to communal areas for anti-war meetings and pacifist demonstrations.
On Saturday 24th June, Professor Mike Heffernan’s community partners the Ramgarhia Social Sisters participated in the day long community history event, Military History Live at Leicester’s Old Library Cafe and Galleries. Representatives of the Sikh community, the Social Sisters were displaying their tapestry panels which have been crafted in order to commemorate the contribution that Sikhs made to the British First World War effort. Also, on display were examples of the community research which contributed to the Social Sisters project as well as the posters that were produced as a result of Leicester Council’s First World War Family Learning Project with Bridge Junior School. Engaging with parents and pupils, The Ramgarhia Sikh Sisters visited Bridge Junior School as part of the Family Learning Project.
On 22nd June, Year Five students from Stonelow Junior School, Derbyshire visited the History department at the University of Nottingham and the University’s Digital Humanities Centre. The students spent time with Centre for Hidden Histories Community Liaison Officer, Mike Noble, who used artefacts from the World War One era, such as British army caps, former artillery shells, spoons used in the trenches and medals awarded to British and German soldiers in order to tell students about the history of the First World War. This was from the perspective of the men who served in the trenches and the women who worked in armaments factories on the Home Front.
On Saturday 24th June the Ramgarhia Social Sisters First World War tapestry will be on display as part of Military History Live at the Old Library Cafe and Galleries in Leicester. Professor Mike Heffernan (University of Nottingham) has acted as a historical advisor on the Social Sisters project. There will also be presentations of subsequent work completed by children from Leicester as part of a follow-on family Learning project.
Military History Live will be open between 10am and 4pm. The address for the event is: The Old Library Cafe and Galleries, Leicester Adult Exchange College, 54 Belvoir Street, Leicester, LE1 6QL.
On 24th April 2017, Professor John Beckett, Community Liaison Officer Mike Noble and myself convened a Reflection Workshop with community partners at The Library of Birmingham. Community partners shared their stories of planning, creating and bringing to fruition their First World War commemorative projects which have been supported by the Centre for Hidden Histories as well as frequently funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
“I’ve developed people skills and project management to a degree… Just being out with the community connected with me... There’s an event taking place on the 22nd June  which is the first African-Caribbean memorial being laid in the UK, it was unveiled a couple of year’s ago but its being in-laid in London outside the Black Cultural Archives, and from having the skills and the contacts… I have become involved in creating that… high profile event… This comes from having the skills and the background developed from this project.”
“Recognize is now known for delivering World War One projects…We’ve brought out stories that are hidden, but they’ve actually been right under the noses of people… My next door neighbour, I’ve known him for thirty years now, he saw me with my uniform on the other day, and he said I must tell you my great, great grandfather fought in the First World War…What made it more fabulous is that at home… he’s got all of his old medals and they are all in tact… Sometimes it’s not that the stories are hidden…it’s just that people have not had the platform to share that story.”
The insights collated from this reflection workshop will form a key part of a paper that I am giving at the University of Bristol’s ‘Creative Histories’ conference (19-21 July 2017). This will be in relation to Keri Facer and Bryony Enright’s idea of the ’embodied legacies’ of community research projects.
This, the second of Manchester Metropolitan University’s two evening sessions to mark the centenary of the momentous events in Russia in 1917, will be led by Dr. Catherine Danks.
At the beginning of the First World War in 1914 the warring peoples and nations of Europe were each consumed by their own fanatical patriotism. They saw the war as an opportunity to test their virility. A major outpouring of Russian patriotism, fed by the vast machinery of Tsarist propaganda, reached its climax between the outbreak of the war and the abdication of the Tsar in February/March 1917. The attempts to persuade the Russian people to support the war effort were made through such innocuous tools of media as photographs, prints, post cards and even paper toys.
Dr. Catherine Danks, Senior Lecturer in History at the Manchester Metropolitan University, is a specialist in Russian Studies, working on Russia-related aspects of a major historical project Hidden Histories of World War One. An active member of the Manchester-St. Petersburg Friendship Society, she has intimate knowledge of St. Petersburg historical archives.
Thursday, May 11, 2017, 7.00 pm to 9.00 pm
Room G 33, Lecture Theatre 4 (Ground Floor)
The Business School and the Student Hub
Manchester Metropolitan University
Admission Free, but a donation of £2 in aid of the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity will be greatly appreciated.
Free car parking under the Mancunian Way, behind the business School and the Student Hub. Entrance through Chester Street.