Making a stand with Mary: Precarious Employment in Pandemic Times

Kate Brooks, Bath Spa University K.Brooks@bathspa.ac.uk We are pleased to share this blog by Kate Brooks, the winner of the 2020 SHS Postgraduate Prize. In 1851, Joseph Lowe was working as a barber in Willenhall, Staffordshire, with four children and a house servant named Jane. Willenhall was an overcrowded, impoverished district, known for locksmithery and … Continued

Children, Covid-19 and Parental Responsibility

Dr Deniz Arzuk, University College London @denizarzuk https://changingchildhoods.com/ On June 1st, after 10 weeks of lockdown, primary schools in England have reopened for children in Years 1, 6, and Reception. Yet, the initial reports suggest that turn-out is low, and parents are still unconvinced and hesitant to send their children back to school. This is … Continued

Death in the archives

Kate Brooks, Bath Spa University We may never know the exact number of deaths caused by this pandemic, not just because of Government obfuscation. Establishing a definitive cause of death is not as straight forward as it may seem, and the current debates about numbers can be read as yet another iteration of an almost … Continued

DIY facemasks and the domestication of personal protection in the First World War

Dr Michael Reeve, Bishop Grosseteste University/Leeds Beckett University @DrMichaelReeve As a historian of wartime resilience, I have found it difficult not to draw parallels between aspects of the current public health crisis and elements of my own research into public safety and early forms of civil defence during the First World War. Though such parallels … Continued

A good send-off in the strange new world of Covid-19

Dr Helen Frisby, independent historian Helen.Frisby@uwe.ac.uk Just over twelve months ago, fuelled by coffee, toasted bagels and an impending deadline, I noted in the concluding chapter of my book Traditions of Death and Burial how, over the past millennium: The ideal (if not always the practice) of a ‘good’ death nonetheless has remained remarkably consistent … Continued

A Call to Knitting Needles

Dr Vivien Newman, First World War Women  @worldwarwomen On 20 April, The Shields Gazette reported that ‘residents are knitting hearts to cheer up patients being treated for coronavirus in intensive care’. This reminded me of knitting in World War One. In 1914, Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener issued a Call to Knitting Needles. … Continued

The Pandemic Victorian Post Office

Professor David Green and Dr Laura Newman, King’s College London @PostalHealth Much has been written in the news lately about how best to protect the health of postal workers during a pandemic. At a time when we’re all beginning to reconsider what or who constitutes a ‘vital’ worker, it’s becoming increasingly apparent just how critical … Continued

On Epidemics and Loneliness

Professor David Vincent, Open University David.Vincent@open.ac.uk Prior to the outbreak of coronavirus there was widespread discussion by campaigners and social commentators of an ‘epidemic’ of loneliness.  On the basis of an extensive literature review, Keith Snell concluded that ‘Loneliness is now widely diagnosed as a modern “epidemic” or “plague”.’ Even before the current crisis, this … Continued

We’ll meet again, but will we forget again?: Voluntarism in the Second World War and COVID-19.

Charlotte Tomlinson, University of Leeds C.h.tomlinson@leeds.ac.uk @charltommo Everywhere you look, it seems that discussions about COVID-19 are flooded with analogies of the Second World War. The language used to describe the pandemic, and particularly how society should respond to it, has made heavy use of allusions to the war through militarised language – NHS workers … Continued