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Jutland centenary: understanding the battle

By Dr Jen Novotny, Research Assistant in History, University of Glasgow

ugd100-1-11-8-HMS_Galatea

HMS Galatea, the first ship to spot signs of the German fleet on 31 May 1916. University of Glasgow Archives Reference: UGD100/1/11/8

One hundred years ago on 31 May, the British Grand Fleet met the German High Seas Fleet in the most important naval battle of the First World War. One hundred and fifty ships of the Royal Navy met 99 German ships in the North Sea – 100,000 sailors manoeuvring the might of the world’s two most advanced navies in the only full-scale naval engagement of the First World War.

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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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The Process of Digitising a First World War Album- An Interns Perspective

Originally posted on University of Glasgow Library:
By Tessa Ewart, 2nd Year History of Art student and digitisation intern My internship placement at Glasgow University Archives has so far consisted of documenting a large album of photographs depicting artificial limb production and fitting at Erskine Hospital, established 1916 as the Princess Louise Hospital for Limbless Sailors…

University Women and WWI

By Jennifer Stewart, University of Glasgow graduate and former University of Glasgow Archives intern

During the Great War, the Glasgow University Magazine (GUM) acted as a mouthpiece for the student body with regards to the experience of campus life during this period of turmoil and grief. Although male members of the publishing team dominate the contributions to the magazine, the occasional Queen Margaret (QM) edition does shed light on the opinions of female students concerning the War and their place within wartime society. Additionally, by studying the GUM as the war progresses, we can see, especially around 1916, the appearance of an increasing number of female contributors to the staff of the regular editions of GUM, suggesting the need to compensate for the absence of male students with the introduction of conscription.

QM debate - that one should support ones country

Announcement from the 1915 Queen Margaret College edition of the Glasgow University Magazine

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The First World War Roll of Honour – A Collaborative Effort

By Astrid Purton, Graduate Trainee, University of Glasgow Archive Services

In the midst of the Centenary of the First World War it has become clear that on a local, regional and national level there is a drive to remember those who served and passed away in the chilling global conflict. In Archive Services for example, we have seen individuals, groups and communities visit our search-room for a wide variety of First World War related enquiries (including projects to rebuild WWI locomotives and boats, to piece together family histories and to update or create memorials).

The University of Glasgow itself is also hosting a number of commemorative events and projects to remember its students and staff who took part in the war. One such project is the development of the on-line Roll of Honour which currently features 441 images, 639 biographies and 4549 records of those who served.

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More than names: remembering individuals on the University of Glasgow Roll of Honour

By Kirsty Nicholson, Roll of Honour Student Editor and student in History at the University of Glasgow

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The University of Glasgow First World War memorial tablets in the chapel

Throughout the course of the First World War centenary, the University of Glasgow is researching and remembering the death of each individual on the Roll of Honour. Creating a biography for each person on the online Roll of Honour is a tremendously important endeavour, and not just for fellow historians. I think the task is important because in doing so, everybody on the memorial becomes a real person, with a personality, instead of just a name recorded forever but barely known. By taking the time to uncover information, even just about their (often) short time at the university, those who died in the terrible conflict become more recognisable, and thus easier to relate to. To me this is so important because as time goes on, the history of the First World War becomes more of a distant memory. It is already passing out of living memory and feels firmly in the past – events to be studied by future generations. As time passes, the world that the individuals on the Roll of Honour lived in will become less and less familiar. By creating online biographies that are easily accessible to anybody, hopefully some of the familiarity can be retained. In years to come, when somebody from the class of 2115 studies the Great War, hopefully they can look upon these biographies, and smile to find out that one particular soldier studied the same subject or perhaps lived on the same street as them. By finding familiarities and common connections with the people that came before us, we find it easier to engage with them. Hopefully, then, that student from 2115 will be impassioned to learn more about the Great War, and the fate of that soldier and his battalion, because of a personal cord that was struck when he realised the soldier would have lived next door to him. Maybe then he will go on to question why that soldier was involved in the war, and why that war even happened in the first place.

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