Remembering the First World War
2014 marks 100 years since the start of the First World War. How did you commemorate the centenary?
Remembering the First World War is a collaborative project that pools ideas and sources from across the county and beyond.
Hertfordshire has a fascinating history around the First World War, and there is evidence of many lesser-known stories involving the local area - stories superseded by powerful, yet familiar accounts of mud, trenches and munitions.
A series of free events to share those histories has been already been held under the title Remembering the First World War, and more details of these can be found below.
The University of Hertfordshire, in collaboration with the Universities of Essex, Northampton, Exeter, Lincoln and Central Lancashire is one of 5 First World War Engagement Centres. [FWW Engagement Centres] We are funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council, in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund, with the specific purpose of bringing together researchers from all walks of life.
- First World War food and farming
- Theatre and entertainment
- Conscientious objection and military tribunals
- Supernatural beliefs
- Family relationships
This event was designed to offer museums an opportunity to alert local groups and individuals to their own plans for marking the outbreak of war in 1914, as well as publicising the wealth of material which they hold in their archives.
Additional talks were given by a representative from the War Memorials Trust, Dr. Helen Boak of the History department on the memorialisation of the war in Europe, and a member of the St. Albans Architectural and Archaeological Society who spoke on a project which will explore the records of the Military Tribunals set up in the town to hear appeals against conscription.
The evening was rounded off by another of the 'lost' plays of that period, again sourced by Dr Andrew Maunder, entitled The Handmaidens of Death, written by a Letchworth playwright, Maude Tremaine, and featuring both professional actors and University of Hertfordshire students.
Responding to feedback from previous events, the focus of our third in this series was on the work of local history groups and individual researchers, offering them a chance to report back on their research thus far.
As well as a number of updates on research into local memorials, there were papers on the landing fields of Hertfordshire during the Great War, Hitchin women on the Home Front, and the potential for local historians in military sources.
As a result of this, a number of individuals, geographically adjacent but previously unaware of each other's research, formed a loose grouping to consider the wider implications of their own work into the local district of the Ver Valley.
An audience of around 90 people attended the second of our events under this umbrella title in January 2012, when the focus was on practical workshops and advice on how to record and disseminate research.
Speakers included representatives from the Imperial War Museum, Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, Radio Verulam, the University of Hertfordshire Press and local museums.
In addition, staff from across the University offered their expertise in digital mapping, setting up websites, taking research into schools, creative writing and finding sources of funding, whilst students from the Department of History contributed papers on their research into how the war was experienced on the Home Front in Hertfordshire.
This first event was an opportunity to meet with local history societies, community groups, individual researchers and local museums around a theme of 'How will you remember the First World War?'
An audience of around 90 heard short talks from a range of organisations and individuals already engaged in research, offering new themes and sources to explore in telling the story of the Home Front within the county.
The evening concluded with a scripted performance of two plays from World War 1, sourced by Dr. Andrew Maunder, and not seen since the cessation of hostilities in 1918.
Contact us if you have a research idea, would like to get involved in a project, or want to find out more about the University of Hertfordshire's Heritage Hub.