On 22nd November 2016, Impact Fellow, Dr Larissa Allwork and Community Liaison Officer, Mike Noble visited Dr Lee Humber at Ruskin College, Oxford to find out about the progress of Humber’s collaborative project with Jess Tilling, coordinator at learning disability self-advocacy group, My Life My Choice (MLMC). Humber, a sociologist and learning disability historian is working with Tilling, a team of researchers with learning disabilities and their supporters in order to investigate what happened to former residents of what were known during the First World War era as ‘imbecile asylums’ in Oxfordshire and other local regions. The project seeks to find biographical traces of individuals with learning disabilities who may have left to join the army or who otherwise contributed to the 1914-1918 conflict. The project is entitled, ‘The Hidden History of the Labour Corps in the First World War: Contributions to the War Effort Made by People with Learning Disabilities’.
The MLMC group have already participated in workshops at Ruskin College and have explored archival materials held at the Oxfordshire History Centre (St Luke’s Church, Cowley). In the New Year, they are planning further research trips to the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock and the Imperial War Museum, London.