The (32) Thousand Different Hands: Big Data and the “Poppy Volunteers” of Blood Swept Lands & Seas of Red (2014)

Dr Eleanor O’Keeffe, Historic Royal Palaces eleanor.okeeffe@hrp.org.uk @dr_okeeffe   As the UK mobilised a new volunteer effort to fight Covid-19, it felt timely to be working on a history that touched on contemporary volunteering in Britain. As many have reached to wartime analogies to match the sense of national crisis, it serves us well to … 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 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

Public History, Flu Pandemics and the Provincial Media in 1918 and 2020

Dr Andrew Jackson, Bishop Grosseteste University andrew.jackson@bishopg.ac.uk @mylocalpasts Some of those who trod the centenary-rich public-history trail through the years 2014-18, might feel that there is a sense of the past revisiting us in the present. Many of the features of the national crisis and emergency arrangements that established themselves during 1914-18 are being resurrected. … Continued

Wages Fit For Heroes: The GFTU in the First World War

Edda Nicolson, Wolverhampton University @Edda_Nicolson The General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) was created at the 1899 Trades Union Congress in Manchester, with a view to collecting and administrating a strike fund that could be accessed by affiliates at times of industrial unrest. Within 5 years, they had a membership of over 500,000; by 1915, … Continued

First World War Memorials Come in All Sizes

The house was a miracle of miniature technology, from the pair of Purdy shotguns that actually broke even if they didn’t fire, to the electric lift and working plumbing. It was also packed with beautiful and very tiny works of art and literature that represented a major shift from their creators’ wartime output. C.R.W. Nevinson’s “Paths of Glory” had been banned in 1918 because of its shockingly unpatriotic content of faceless British corpses lying in the trench mud, but his contribution to the dolls’ house was a pretty watercolour of a mountain town.

Exploring the Supernatural in WW1

Owen Davies is Professor of Social History at the University of Hertfordshire and a leading authority on the belief in witchcraft, magic, ghosts, and popular medicine from the ancient world to the modern era. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including Grimoires: A History of Magic Books (OUP, 2009) and America Bewitched: The Story of Witchcraft after Salem (OUP, 2013).

In his contribution to the Research Exchange, he reflects on how he came to write his new book, ‘A Supernatural War: Magic, Divination, and Faith during the First World War’, which was published by Oxford University Press in October 2018.