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World War One and its Legacy

In 2014 the world marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. The four years of the war between 1914 and 1918 remained one of the most significant periods in recent British history, affecting almost everyone in the UK and in all the countries involved. At its end a new world order had emerged and we are still understanding and absorbing the implications of the momentous changes the War brought about.

The centenary represented a significant act of commemoration both in the UK and internationally. The Imperial War Museum (IWM) has continued to lead activities in this area and the AHRC, in partnership with IWM, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the BBC and other organisations, continues to ensure that arts and humanities research plays a central role in the commemoration, bringing new perspectives and interpretations to bear on our understanding of the War and its legacy, sparking contemporary resonances and inspiring public interest. Such commemorations include the regular public events featured on the website events page, and Blog Postings (with discussions) submitted by experts and members of the public.

More recently the Anniversary of the Somme (1st July 2016) resulted in some community features on the Blog and Website, such as 'The Crich Stand - Memorial to the Crich Stand'; a memorial to the Mercian Regiment. 'Beyond the Trenches' - A Blog run by AHRC, is a dedicated online resource giving an excellent variety of news, information and vast discussion on many aspects of WW1. If you would be interested in submitting a post, please email or complete the contact form online. Individual comments on any post can be added at any time.

The AHRC Blog Beyond the Trenches, reflects on researching the First World War, and continues to have regular and topical postings. Experts and members of the public/community groups can submit their ideas at any time and discussion is very much welcomed. Recent additions have included 'First World War Centenaries: Are we Commemorating things the right way', 'A Global Conflict: William Barry, Australian Prisoner of War' and 'Representing Resistance: 1916 and the Impact of Conscription'. Topics cover all aspects of WW1, including the effect of the War on the Home Front, and a posting on 'The Stomach for Fighting - Food on the Somme' featured in the Huffington Post.

Researchers funded by the AHRC with expertise in particular aspects of War can be located on the Experts List page.

Voices of War and Peace logo

AHRC also produced a commemorative publication,'Beyond the Trenches: Researching the First World War' (PDF, 16.9MB):

World War One AT HOME

In partnership with IWM and the BBC, the AHRC is funding researchers to work with broadcast journalists in the BBC Regions and Nations to source, select and present stories linked to significant places marking the history of World War I. There continues to be stories linked to areas people live in, and the site allows them to search via their individual radio station area.

World War One at Home further information.

World War One Engagement Centres

In partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Five World War One Engagement Centres 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. Latest Events are listed on the website, and individual Centreswelcome contact from individuals and community groups.

World War One Engagement Centres further information.

Other funded activities

The following is a selection of AHRC-funded grants associated with the First World War:

Legacies of War 1914-18, 2014-18

The Legacies of War Centenary Project at the University of Leeds is run by academics who have research interests in different aspects of the First World War and wish to share their knowledge widely during the years of the 100th anniversary of the War. The project's research and activities are structured around five thematic strands: Yorkshire and the Great War, Culture and the Arts, Science and Technology, War and Medicine and War and Resistance. The project is run in partnership with Gateways to the First World War (One of the 5 Engagement Centres mentioned above).

Please visit the Legacies of War Centenary Project Website for the latest news, events and twitter posts.

AHRC film on 'Leeds Stories of the Great War'.

Comics and the World Wars

What is the contribution of the comic form to the cultural heritage of the global experiences of the World Wars and what different kinds of historical meaning emerge? The research project, based at the University of Lincoln, and the two major exhibitions that went with it - one on World War One comics at the Belgian Comic Strip Museum,, and another on Second World War comics at London's Cartoon Museum - emphasised to the heritage industry the potential of comics as a cultural artefact.

AHRC film on ‘Comics and the World Wars’

The First World War in the Classroom

This exploratory research project funded by AHRC seeks to critically examine the ways the First World War is taught via History and English Literature across secondary schools and universities in England. Regular tweets and postings, together with resources can be found on the website as listed below.

The First World War in the Classroom website.

Whose Remembrance?

Whose Remembrance?, IWM's 1st AHRC supported research project, aims to help restore the largely forgotten history of the experiences of the peoples of Britain’s former empire in the wars to its rightful place in our consciousness. Discussion papers, posters and workshop programmes are all available to be downloaded from the IWM Website as listed below. There is also a Research Blog

Whose Remembrance website.

The significance of the centenary

 An AHRC-funded network is asking some important questions about the anniversary of the First World War, notably what makes centenary commemorations different. Led by by the University of Birmingham, in collaboration with Universities of Cardiff and Sheffield, Tower of London and National Library of Wales contemporary events are seen in the context of other historical celebrations and commemorations. Find out more in an AHRC feature article.

The significance of the centenary website.

Aftermaths of War: Women’s Organizations and Female Activists

An AHRC-funded research network took the lead in recording women’s activism after the First World War, drawing together scholars from diverse disciplines and employing a comparative and transnational perspective. Find out more in an AHRC feature article.

Aftermaths of War website

Image Gallery: A textile narrative of John Edgar Bell, Quaker and conscientious objector in WW1

Dr Sonja Andrew from the University of Manchester compiled this image gallery to create a visual narrative about the experiences of John Edgar Bell, a Quaker and conscientious objector in WW1 who was imprisoned for refusing to fight. 

Textile narrative of John Edgar Bell image gallery

For further information on AHRC-funded research on the First World War, please go to Gateway to Research.