The Living Legacies of the First World War: The North East and Beyond

Daniel Laqua and James McConnel

During the centenary, Northumbria academics in the Department of Humanities have led a series of innovative AHRC-funded projects that have uncovered hitherto unexplored stories of how the lives of people from the region were changed by the First World War. In collaboration with the HLF-funded ‘Tynemouth World War Commemoration Project’, McConnel ran a citizen history project on the 7,000 North East men who served in the dominion armies of New Zealand, Australia, and Canada during the war, telling the story of their pre-war migration, wartime service, and post-war lives in the context of Britain’s evolving empire. In partnership with the Workers’ Educational Association and the National Union of Students, Laqua’s project investigates the war generation’s entry into higher education in 1919, which was facilitated by new scholarship for ex-servicemen. A key emphasis has been on the international ties that students sought to forge, including connections to young people from former enemy states. These themes have been explored through a focus on specific case study institutions in London, Durham and Newcastle.

As a key priority of both projects has been public engagement, they have generated high-quality exhibitions in collaboration with their key project partners.

This exhibition brings these exhibitions together in order to showcase Northumbria research but also to highlight the important point that for many people in the region, the war had long-lasting and complex legacies. The exhibition is also complemented by an event (combining presentation and performance features) that Laqua’s project generated as a contribution to the ‘Commemoration, Conflict and Conscience’ Festival in Bristol.