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World War One Engagement Centres

The Engagement Centres will support a wide range of community engagement activities, connecting academic and public histories of the First World War as part of the commemoration of the War’s centenary which begins this year.

A key focus of the Engagement Centres will be to provide UK-wide support for community groups funded through a range of HLF funding programmes, particularly its new £6m ‘First World War: Then and Now’ community grants scheme.  During an initial start-up phase ahead of their formal launch later in 2014, the Centres will be extending links with the diverse programmes of community activities being planned to commemorate the centenary across the UK as well as developing international links.

The following are World War One Engagement Centres:

Name of Centre​ ​Lead University
Voices of War and Peace ​University of Birmingham
Gateways to the First World War​ University of Kent​
Living Legacies 1914-1918​ Queen's University Belfast​
Everyday Lives in War​ University of Hertfordshire​
Centre for Hidden Histories​ University of Nottingham​

Themes and areas of expertise

Each of the five Engagement Centres has announced an initial set of themes / areas of expertise on which they are able to provide support to communities across the UK thinking of undertaking commemorative activities relating to the centenary of the First World War. These themes are expected to evolve during the course of the centenary in the light of interest from community groups. The Centres will be open for enquiries from March using the email addresses below, before their full launch in June.

Voices of War and Peace: the Great War and its legacy

University of Birmingham

The centre offers research support and guidance for community groups around the First World War in general and in particular around the following themes:

  • Belief and the Great War
  • Commemoration
  • Childhood
  • Cities at War
  • Gender and the Home Front

The centre will be officially launched on 21 March at the Library of Birmingham from 12-2.30pm. Enquiries can be sent to: voices@contacts.bham.ac.uk.

Gateways to the First World War

University of Kent

Gateways contains a range of expertise which can help you explore the following areas:

  • Memorials, commemoration and memory
  • Life on the Home and Fighting Fronts
  • The medical history of the First World War
  • Wartime propaganda and popular culture
  • Maritime and naval history
  • Operational and military history

The centre will open for engagement in mid-March, and initial enquiries can be sent to: gateways@kent.ac.uk.

Everyday Lives in War: experience and memory of the FWW

University of Hertfordshire

How did war affect daily life between 1914 and 1918; what was the legacy of the conflict? This centre aims to encourage community research into questions such as these and has particular expertise in:

  • First World War food and farming
  • Theatre and entertainment
  • Conscientious objection and military tribunals
  • Supernatural beliefs
  • Childhood
  • Family relationships

The centre welcomes enquiries on its specific themes and on general First World War topics: firstworldwar@herts.ac.uk. Events and activities will be announced from mid-March 2014.

Living Legacies 1914-18: From past conflict to shared future

Queen’s University Belfast

The ‘Living Legacies’ First World War Engagement Centre in Belfast will explore the enduring impacts and legacies of this tumultuous period.

The Centre is interested in helping communities to:

  • tell their stories and share these stories with others
  • rediscover the forgotten First World War heritage in our landscapes
  • find out why and where people moved as a result of the war
  • express stories about the conflict through drama and theatre

If you are also interested in exploring these themes, the centre would be delighted to hear from you! Together, by connecting diverse stories and experiences through our research, the centre hopes to build a better, shared understanding of the living legacies of the First World War.

The centre will be officially launched in Belfast on Monday, 19 May 2014 but is now open for initial enquiries about developing projects, please contact: livinglegacies@qub.ac.uk.

Centre for Hidden Histories: Community, Commemoration and the First World War

University of Nottingham

Do you feel your community or descendants are being ignored by the 1914-18 commemorations? This centre is particularly interested in developing commemorative projects with national, faith and other emerging communities whose histories are rarely considered, and for whom the traditional Armistice Day celebrations may have strikingly different meanings.

The centre’s key thematic interests include:

  • Migration and displacement
  • The experience of ‘others’, from countries and regions within Europe, Asia and the Commonwealth
  • Impact and subsequent legacies of the war on diverse communities within Britain
  • Remembrance and commemoration
  • Identity and faith

The centre will be launching on 10 May, but in the meantime please contact HiddenHistories@nottingham.ac.uk if you have initial enquiries about their work or are looking for collaborative opportunities.