Leeds Stories of the Great War

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Abstract

The First World War is too often exclusively remembered through the lens of trench experiences on the Western Front. A key aim of the project 'Legacies of War 1914-1918/2014-18' at the University of Leeds, from which this project arises, is to draw attention to diversity of experience and of the ever-present cultural, social and technological legacies of the conflict in order to broaden its meaning for a wide range of different audiences. One of the key ways in which communities engage with the heritage of the First World War is through the uncovering of local stories as a way of understanding the war as an international conflict. This project aims to uncover ways in which the war touched the everyday life, communal politics, social relations, culture and values of citizens who inhabited their street, town or region in 1914-18, the traces, memories, monuments, documents and culture it left behind, and the ways in which the mass displacement of populations during the war brought about contact with those of different social groups, nationalities and ethnicities.

Leeds as a city was vital to the British war effort. It lost more men than the national average; equally, as a key industrial centre, Leeds factories and industries played an indispensable role in supplying the British troops and civilians during the war. Leeds residents also contributed in other ways: its households took in Belgian refugees; its hospitals cared for thousands of wounded soldiers from Britain (and its then Empire); its growing numbers of theatres, cinemas and music-halls catered for a war-weary population in need of entertainment. Today, in the Liddle Collection, University of Leeds, the West Yorkshire Archives (now in Morley), and Leeds Central Library, Leeds houses the most important collections of archival materials on the First World War outside of London.

One of the key aims of the 'Legacies of War 1914-18/2014-18 project' is to facilitate an innovative, cross-cultural and intergenerational approach to the commemoration of the First World War. 'Leeds Stories of the Great War' aims to do this in a concrete way via a series of small co-produced research projects carried out by intergenerational Leeds community groups (consisting, for example, of sixth-formers, older people and former factory employees), collaborating with community facilitators, artists, local history experts and university academics. Taken together, the research findings of these projects will discover key aspects of Leeds life during the war, which will be made widely accessible in innovative ways to the public during the Centenary period, and will be stored in the form of a digital archive for future generations.

Planned Impact

This project has clear potential for impact on beneficiaries among the wider public, particularly amongst Leeds residents. It will benefit local communities by facilitating exchange and communication between different groups (such as older people and schoolchildren/sixth-formers). In generating interest in the heritage and history of residents' local area, it will help the local authority in their key strategic aims to foster a sense of belonging amongst different communities, to engage residents in local cultural opportunities, and to raise the profile of Leeds nationally and internationally (see attached Letter of Support from Leeds City Council). Many of our proposed research groups are in Seacroft in East Leeds. In the latest Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) this area was ranked 120 out of 32,482 in England, where 1 was the most deprived and 32,482 the least. This means this project has the possibility of improving access to services and increasing well-being and a sense of belonging in communities that have traditionally been harder to reach. The research will also be of interest to performing artists - Project Space Leeds, one of the groups with whom we are working, for example, will seek to commission Leeds-based artists to engage with the research findings of the heritage groups.

Publications

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Title Artist and Film-maker Martha Jurksaitis' Leeds Stories of the Great War films 
Description Martha Jurksaitis was commissioned to make short films responding to the 6 co-produced research projects. These films were then screened to individual groups and as part of a sharing/celebration event. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact Impacts included the facilitation of reflection on the process of both researching WW1 and collaboration for all partners. The artist used the opportunity to consider untold stories of the area in which she lived, and commented on the development of her artistic practice, as well as new relationships formed. 
URL http://cherrykino.blogspot.co.uk/
 
Title Performance by Urban Sprawl, homeless theatre company 
Description A performance resulting from their engagement with First World War archives at the University and in the city of Leeds 
Type Of Art Creative Writing 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact The theatre company described the personal benefits from their clients participating in the project relating to health and wellbeing. The collaboration between university researchers and the theatre company has led to further collaborations. The sharing of the performance led to the raising of the profile of the charity Urban Sprawl. 
URL http://arts.leeds.ac.uk/legaciesofwar/themes/yorkshire-and-the-great-war/leeds-stories-of-the-great-...
 
Title Seacroft 1914-18 
Description A book containing information about Seacroft's First World War experiences, and containing creative writings from local community members. 
Type Of Art Creative Writing 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact This enabled the participants from Seacroft to express their creative responses to the project, and they reported improved health and wellbeing from their involvement. It also allowed for potential community cohesion and new knowledge about local history and heritage as the book has been launched and discussed at various community events over the last few years. The introduction of the book links the encounters with the university researchers and the project as a whole as an inspiration for carrying out the research (particularly the connections between the local and the global), and as the raw material for the creative responses. 
URL https://seacroftliteratureandart.wordpress.com/books/
 
Title Short film showcasing the Morley & the First World War Open Day 
Description This was a film made by the AHRC highlighting the Leeds Stories of the Great War project, featuring in particular the Morley project and the show and tell roadshow/open day that was organised. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact This film raised the profile of the project and captured some of the impacts in terms of the interviews with participants. 
URL http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/research/readwatchlisten/filmsandpodcasts/leedsstoriesofthegreatwar/
 
Title Short videos by pupils from Roundhay schools and Allerton Grange schools 
Description Short youtube videos produced by schoolchildren from two different schools responding to primary materials about Belgian refugees in Yorkshire jointly researched by pupils and university researchers on the Leeds Stories of the Great War project. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact The teachers commented on the value for students to be able to take a lead on deciding what the output of their research should be, and using creative skills to make the videos (whereas for GCSE/A level the pupils are more constrained when producing assessments). The pupils reported on the enjoyment of researching a topic in depth and then using their creative skills to produce responses to it. In 2015 Prof Fell used the videos for workshops for teachers in the Yorkshire area as an example of different ways of engaging pupils in history/heritage projects. They were also featured in a Yorkshire Post article http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/our-yorkshire/heritage/world-war-one/homefront/acts-of-kindness-to-those-in-their-hour-of-need-1-6494215 
URL http://arts.leeds.ac.uk/legaciesofwar/themes/yorkshire-and-the-great-war/leeds-stories-of-the-great-...
 
Description As university researchers and a project officer stimulating, managing and supporting six co-produced WW1 heritage projects we discovered:
-the pros and cons of co-produced research heritage project
-new ways of working, including intergenerational working
- new knowledge and resources on WW1 and its legacies
- we developed new partnerships with both organisations, institutions and community groups
- we discovered new ways of interpreting research findings that appeal to a wide range of audiences, including through film, creative writing and performance
- we developed new skills in terms of working with community partners, communicating research findings, and running engagement activities
Exploitation Route My findings are already being taken forward by the new colleagues I am collaborating with as part of the AHRC First World War Engagement Centres (I am Co-I of the Gateways to the First World War centre based at the University of Kent)
Sectors Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://arts.leeds.ac.uk/legaciesofwar/themes/yorkshire-and-the-great-war/leeds-stories-of-the-great-war/
 
Description This award involved working with 6 community groups on 6 co-produced research projects focusing on the legacies of the First World War. The findings were used for a series of outputs (including exhibitions, websites, performances, interpretation material), and participants also commented on other impacts, including improved well-being, increased skills and new knowledge about the war and their heritage.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description First World War Engagement Centres
Amount £750,000 (GBP)
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2014 
End 12/2016
 
Description Collaboration with Leeds City Council (Museums and Galleries) 
Organisation Leeds City Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We formulated a close working relationship in order to extend our reach to community groups potentially interested in WW1 projects, to open up collections, and to join forces in stimulating research and interest in WW1 centenary projects. We provided expertise, venues, access to University collections.
Collaborator Contribution Leeds Museums and Galleries provided expertise, venues, access to their collections.
Impact Outcomes of partnership: Joint working documents, for example a joint statement on the City and University's response to the Centenary of WW1 Jointly organised events, such as CPD events for teachers, public workshops, and museum exhibition.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Collaboration with several local community groups and community brokers on WW1 themes 
Organisation Leeds City Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The project team ran two Open Days, as a result of which the university formed partnerships with several community brokers (such as Leeds City Council) and community organisations and associations.
Start Year 2011
 
Title WW1 Leeds Facebook timeline 
Description Three of the research groups of the Leeds Stories of the Great War project contributed to the WW1 Leeds Facebook timeline originally set up by a group of young people volunteering for Leeds Museums and Galleries (the preservative party). 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact This enabled intergenerational sharing - one of the project's original aims - and the production of a valuable resource for Leeds residents interested in WW1 during the Centenary years. It also increased skill sets of project members not familiar or comfortable with the internet or Facebook. 
URL https://www.facebook.com/WW1Leeds/
 
Description Coordination and establishment of 6 research groups involving 1 academic and community researchers 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact -we either established or worked with 6 research teams working on different aspects of WW1
-we supported and stimulated their research by exchange with academics, visits to collections/archives and a series of activities including workshops and performances
-each group produced different outputs presenting their findings. These included films, books, leaflets, exhibitions, websites, performances and posters
-academics produced academic outputs which will be published next year

-this project has enhanced existing partnerships (particularly Leeds City Council) and begun new ones
-this project has reached community groups traditionally harder to reach with heritage projects (the homeless via a homeless theatre group, Urban Sprawl, East Leeds (Seacroft Arts & Literary Society))
-this project has engaged relatively large numbers of the public and has engaged new audiences with academic research on WW1
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014
 
Description Discovery Day co-run with HLF Yorkshire and Humber, Leeds, October 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was a Discovery Day in which projects from the Yorkshire and Humber gave short presentations, there were Q & A and networking opportunities to encourage the development of new First World War heritage projects. We had very positive feedback from the event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Exhibition on The University in the War 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was an exhibition resulting from one of the 'Leeds Stories of the Great War' coproduced research projects, which involved researchers from the University working alongside community researchers, alumni and current undergraduate and postgraduate students. Visitors reported on gaining of new knowledge/new perspectives on the war and its legacies, and participants commented on increased well-being, a new feeling of belonging to the wider community of the university, and a new sense of the university's role in the city.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.leeds.ac.uk/forstaff/news/article/4543/poignant_service_honours_war_dead_a_century_on
 
Description Leeds Stories of the Great War sharing event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The 6 co-produced research projects shared their findings in a number of ways:
1) Seacroft Literary Society (a community group) gave a series of readings of both their findings, and of creative responses to the findings
2) Urban Sprawl, homeless theatre group, gave a performance inspired by project
3) The Tetley research group introduced the leaflet that they had produced
4) Roundhay and Allerton Grange schools showed the short videos they made
5) Leeds University research group showed powerpoints showcasing the individuals they had focused on
6) Morley FWW group discussed their findings and talked about the planned future events around WW1 commemoration to take place in Morley

The participants in the sharing discussed the increased knowledge they had gained, further interest in the subject, increased self-esteem, new connections to their local area and heritage, increased confidence in applying for further funding, and enjoyment of being part of a wider project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://arts.leeds.ac.uk/legaciesofwar/themes/yorkshire-and-the-great-war/leeds-stories-of-the-great-...
 
Description Meeting with ITV researchers for a new drama based in and after WW1 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact I acted as historical advisor for two ITV researchers who are helping to research stories for a drama being developed around the First World War and its impacts. I suggested sources, answered queries, and offered some examples of local stories.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Meeting with Leeds City Council and Leeds Museums and Galleries planning Armistice Flag project in 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This was a meeting to plan an Armistice flag making activity in Leeds to commemorate the end of the First World War. This will be run jointly by Gateways and Leeds City Council, and will end with events in Leeds City Music.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Meeting with Leeds Museums and Galleries re: Jogendra Sen 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Along with a local volunteer, we presented research on an Indian WW1 soldier who fought for the British Army, Jogendra Nath Sen, to a museum professional (Lucy Moore, First World War curator, Leeds Museums and Galleries). We supported her British Council funding application for a trip to India to liaise with a museum there who have his effects. This application was successful.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Meeting with colleagues, volunteers and HLF projects to discuss future project on Belgian refugees 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I met with colleagues, volunteers and members of two current HLF projects to discuss a future project focusing on Belgian refugees (this application was successful and the project will start in March 2018)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Meeting with descendant from Belgian refugee to share information with him 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was a meeting with Michael Hassell, a local Leeds resident, to share information about his grandfather I discovered in archives in Belgium. This story is now going to be the material for a BBC documentary, to be filmed later in 2018, which will involve a visit to Belgium to visit his grandfather's grave and potentially find relatives.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Meeting with staff of West Yorkshire Archive service 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a meeting in June 2017 to discuss further collaborations around planned activities around the Centenary of the First World War, particularly their participation in an event around First World War medicine and nursing which is planned for September 2017. They introduced us to primary sources in their collections, and we agreed to work together to support community projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Morley Town Hall Show & Tell WW1 event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was a 'Show & Tell' event in Morley in Jan 2014 as part of the Leeds Stories of the Great War project. Members of the public were invited to bring their WW1 stories and objects for university researchers and other experts to discuss with them. It was also an opportunity for the Morley community researchers to showcase their findings up to that point, and to crowdsource for further resources and volunteers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/research/readwatchlisten/filmsandpodcasts/leedsstoriesofthegreatwar/
 
Description Panelist at panel about museum/archive/university collaboration around First World War activities at the Berks conference, US, June 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a conference focusing on collaborations between academics and other organisations. Along with other academics, I discussed what I had learnt from collaborating with the National Archives, Kew and Leeds Museums and Galleries. There was an interesting Q & A afterwards, and I made contacts with several other organisations based in the US.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Workshop with cultural and creative industries from Yorkshire about plans for 2018, September 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a workshop we organised attended by museums, arts organisations, local businesses, local authority personnel, and educators, to discuss plans to mark the end of the war in 2018. We formed new partnerships and made new plans for collaborative activity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017