Glasgow University's Great War Project

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CFP: Faith and the First World War

Conference: UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW, 21-22 JULY 2016
A programme of events to mark the centenary of the Women’s Peace Crusade will take place on 23 JULY 2016 at GLASGOW WOMEN’S LIBRARY

women's peace
The extent and importance of religious faith in the First World War is undoubtedly one of the great rediscoveries of the centenary years. Among the belligerent empires and nations, religion proved to be a vital sustaining and motivating force, with the Ottoman war effort cloaked as a jihad, the United States entering the war on Good Friday 1917, and even professedly secular societies such as France experiencing a degree of religious revival. At the same time religious convictions also provided some of the most powerful critiques of the war, contributing to tireless peace-making efforts by Pope Benedict XV and to the stand of thousands of conscientious objectors in Great Britain and the United States. Faith also inspired many of the women who were active in war resistance and initiatives for peace, including Quakers, feminists and Christian socialists who were involved in the Hague Peace Congress of 1915, the resulting Women’s International League, and also grassroots action such as the Women’s Peace Crusade, which was launched in Glasgow in the summer of 1916.

This conference seeks to explore the huge diversity and significance of religious faith for those who experienced the First World War, addressing themes such as faith in the armed forces and on the home front, religion, war resistance and the peace crusade, and the role of religion in remembrance.

Key-note speakers will include Professor S. J. Brown (University of Edinburgh), Dr Lesley Orr (University of Edinburgh) and Professor Michael Snape (University of Durham).

We invite proposals for twenty-minute papers on topics related to the theme. We would welcome papers not only from academics, but also from independent scholars, local history researchers, archivists and others with an interest in this area. Deadline for paper proposals is 31 May 2016.

Please send abstracts (ca. 150 words) to Dr Charlotte Methuen  charlotte.methuen@glasgow.ac.uk.

To register for the conference, please contact Dr Charlotte Methuen
(charlotte.methuen@glasgow.ac.uk) or visit our Eventbrite Eventbrite site. Cost to participants is £25.00 per day to include coffees, teas and lunch. Please pay by cheque (made out to “The University of Glasgow”) or by cash on the day. We can provide a list of local and university accommodation.


Humanising the soldier: reflecting on my research in WWI archives

by Brianna E Robertson-Kirkland, PhD Candidate (Music), University of Glasgow

For this blog, I will be reflecting on my recent biographical research on five men from Glasgow who all fought and died in the Great War. I have chosen to highlight three soldiers I investigated who were graduates from the University of Glasgow and whose names are now commemorated in the University of Glasgow Memorial Chapel. My research background is not in anything related to war studies; rather I research 18th century music. That being said, a large proportion of my PhD was untangling the timelines of several British opera singers and reconstructing more accurate biographical accounts of their careers. In many ways, researching Great War soldiers was very similar; during war small but important details skew the timeline and can make it difficult to track what was happening when. However, I did find another alarming difference in my secondary investigations into these men.

What did they do before the war? What were their hobbies? What had been their aspirations if war had never been declared? Did any other family members also serve and did they survive the war?

During my initial research, I found a few brief biographical accounts on the internet but I was surprised at the lack of information regarding the character of these men. For quite a few of the names, there was detailed information about the battles and their travel from place to place; all things I had assumed would be quite complicated to trace. There was even grizzly information about how they were killed, but I couldn’t get a sense of who they were as individuals. What did they do before the war; what were their hobbies; what had been their aspirations if war had never been declared; did any other family members also serve and did they survive the war? These are simple questions, but they can transform the story of a soldier allowing him to become more relatable to a 21st century audience and for a family member in search of information, I would hope that it would bring both comfort and intrigue. More importantly, these aspects about a person’s character come through in the war diaries but have not been incorporated into individual histories. It is for this reason I chose to explore the individuality of each man, and while there is some information about their military careers, I also highlight their schooling, family connections and hobbies.

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