World War One Engagement Centres

The Engagement Centres have supported a wide range of community engagement activities across the UK since 2014, 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 five Engagement Centres is to provide UK-wide support for community groups funded through a range of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) funding programmes, particularly its new £6m ‘First World War: Then and Now’ community grants scheme.

Their support and expertise has enabled them to connect researchers from universities with communities who share their interests by:

  • Providing support for community projects, including those funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund • Connecting projects with academic advisers • Recommending archives and resources • Advising on documenting and sharing research findings • Coordinating training and events • Promoting First World War centenary projects • Sharing stories about the First World War

There is also a Joint Engagement Centre portal, which has an overview and links to all the Centres, contact details, Blog access, news and joint events.

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

Read the press release.

Themes and areas of expertise

Each of the five Engagement Centres has a 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 continually evolving during the course of the centenary in the light of interest from community groups.

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

The University of Birmingham, in collaboration with (amongst others) Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester Metropolitan, Birmingham City, Wolverhampton and Worcester Universities & Newman University College.

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

11 projects have been funded through the centres Community Research Fund. Films were also made which can be viewed on the website, or via You-Tube.

A News Section (continually updated) is also available.

Enquiries about any of these outputs or topics can be sent to: voices@contacts.bham.ac.uk.

Gateways to the First World War

University of Kent, in collaboration with (amongst others) Leeds, Brighton, Portsmouth Universities and Queen Mary, University of London

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

Gateways continues to be involved in many events, commemorating the Somme and WW1. These often feature on the AHRC Website and Twitter feeds.

Enquiries can be sent to: gateways@kent.ac.uk.

Everyday Lives in War: experience and memory of the FWW

University of Hertfordshire, in collaboration with (amongst others) Universities of Central Lancashire, Lincoln, Exeter and Essex

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
  • Cartoons, trench publications and popular culture

The centre welcomes enquiries on its specific themes and on general First World War topics:firstworldwar@herts.ac.uk.

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

Queen’s University Belfast, in collaboration with (amongst others) Universities of Ulster, Newcastle and Wales and Goldsmiths College University of London

The ‘Living Legacies’ First World War Engagement Centre in Belfast explores the enduring impacts and legacies of the First World War and how it lives on in the twenty-first century.

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

It has particular expertise in the following areas:

  • Museums and exhibitions
  • Migration and 'moving lives'
  • Material cultures and archaeology
  • Digital technologies and digitisation
  • Performing arts

Recently Living Legacies has been running a series of activities at the Somme Museum. In addition over the weekend of July 1st-3rd additional projects can be experienced such as Learning how to Build a WW1 Trench, Walking Tours and Talks on "Remembering the Somme" and an information film on "From Clandeboye to Thiepval". More information is available by contacting the Living Legacies Centre on 028 9097 3725 or email LivingLegacies@qub.ac.uk. Event information can be found on the Somme Museum's facebook page or telephone 028 9182 3202.

If you are also interested in exploring the themes listed above, 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 particularly welcomes enquiries about developing collaborative projects; please contact: livinglegacies@qub.ac.uk.

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

University of Nottingham in collaboration with (amongst others), Oxford Brookes, Manchester Metropolitan, Nottingham Trent and Derby Universities

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 would welcome enquiries if you are interested in their themes or are looking for collaborative opportunities; please contact HiddenHistories@nottingham.ac.uk.

Commemorations throughout 2016 will continue to be featured on each of the Centres individual websites. If you are involved in a WW1 community commemoration project and the Centre has helped you (or you have helped them), do please email communications@ahrc.ac.uk - we can then promote your event or put you in contact with people who are experts at dealing with your enquiry.