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By Kirsty Nicholson, Roll of Honour Student Editor and student in History at the University of Glasgow
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.
by Michael O’Brien, MSc Museum Studies postgraduate student
Of the many tasks that were presented to me on my Museum Studies MSc placement with the Great War Project, I believe the artefact selection and curation was possibly the most challenging. In this post I will discuss these challenges and the subsequent conclusions that led to the curation of artefacts in the exhibition, Glasgow University’s Great War: the University Officers Training Corps.
By Reverend Stuart D MacQuarrie, Chaplain to the University
Glasgow University’s Great War centenary project is important to the University not simply as a historical reflection but in my view as a reflection of who we are, and where we are going. In his seminal work The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L Shirer quotes as an epigram the Spanish American philosopher Santayana who said, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ This project will draw insights about life in the University, the City of Glasgow and Scotland which relate to political, social, and cultural influences from which we can learn and perhaps apply to the present and possibly future times.