Category Archives: News

The First World War Researchathon: Some Reflections on Public Engagement

A blogpost by Gateways’ Dr Brad Beaven on Portsmouth Museum’s First World War Researchathon on 24 January 2015.

The clock was ticking. The tension in the room was palpable. Could we finish our research before the 4:30 deadline? Then with seconds left, Carolyn, my co-researcher, found the missing evidence that completed the profile of our servicemen. The jigsaw was complete!  To spontaneous applause in the research room, Carolyn registered another profile with a ring of the ‘Research Centre HQ Bell’.  This was the Gateways’ and Portsmouth Museum’s First World War Researchathon that invited community groups, students and the general public to help complete the profiles of named individuals in the Portsmouth Museum’s and Archive’s collection. This blogpost reflects upon some of the ideas that have been successful in attracting public engagement with the First World War and those events that have sometimes missed the mark.

In one sense, the Researchathon was a product of a public engagement initiative that didn’t quite work. The Portsmouth Museum, in collaboration with the University of Portsmouth, was awarded Heritage Lottery Funds to create an exhibition on the impact of the First World War on Portsmouth. A central feature of the bid was community engagement which was successfully achieved through staging travelling workshops on researching servicemen and women and the historical artefacts of the War.  Community groups and schools also contributed to the exhibition through art work, drama or researching the background to the artefacts on display. All of these public engagement initiatives worked wonderfully and really enhanced the exhibition.

The Lest We Forget Exhibition, Portsmouth Museum

The Lest We Forget Exhibition, Portsmouth Museum

However, a key idea of the HLF bid was that visitors to the exhibition would have the opportunity to contribute to the exhibition themselves by researching and completing the individual profiles of men and women who had connections with Portsmouth and the First World War.  The Museum and Archive had over 300 individuals with artefacts connecting them to the war but all we had for many of these people was simply their name. A research station was set-up in the exhibition itself with all the necessary hard-copy and on-line materials required to research the context to individuals. Templates for individuals were printed so visitors could fill in the gaps in information such as where they served, medals awarded and whether they survived the war.  Researcher volunteers were on hand to help those visitors who took up the challenge to find the missing context to the people in the collection. It soon became apparent that, while the average visitor spent a longer than average ‘dwell time’ in the exhibition, he or she did not engage with the actual research process.  Those who did were usually looking for their own family members who may or may not have been listed in the archive.  The exhibition itself focused on individual stories of servicemen and women, civilians and their families.  The exhibition surveys and the comments book confirmed that visitors were extremely interested in reading about these very personal stories.  However, their enthusiasm did not extend to researching people they did not personally know.  The bulk of the profiles were completed by museum volunteers and towards the close of exhibition over 160 profiles remained to be completed. The idea of the Researchathon was born!

Participants at the Researchathon,  24 January 2015

Participants at the Researchathon, 24 January 2015

The Researchathon essentially provided additional goals and motivations for the general public to get involved. Yes, it was still about finding the context to the people in the collection, but it also encouraged a sense of purpose among a cross range of participants who included community groups, students, school children and general public.  Participants were also supplied with free tea and cake for added sustenance to keep them going through the day.  An HQ room was created, complete with First World War posters, research stations and, importantly, a desk with an adjudicator who kept  a  running total of completed profiles.  To signal a completed profile the HQ bell was rung. The end-of-day deadline gave researchers an added impetus which, interestingly, resulted in individuals working together to share research approaches and material.  At the end of the day we were left with only 60 or so missing profiles and many of these lacked any surviving evidence to draw from.  Call it cabin fever or the competition to beat the clock, but there was certainly a camaraderie that infected all those involved, be it the experienced researcher or those new to historical research.


What were the lessons learned?  Well, in terms of visitors’ interest in First World War exhibitions, then personal histories and experiences of the war rank highly.  The stories told in the exhibition were praised by visitors as they gave them personal insights into experiences of the war.  Likewise, their own family histories prompted visitors to use the research stations in the exhibition. However, due to the time involved researching individuals and the complexities of research processes, visitors did not, on the whole, want to research individuals who had no connection with them.  Essentially, if they had no family connections, visitors wanted to read the finished product in the exhibition.

The Researchathon framed the research process differently and presented it as an ‘event’. It brought different sections of the community together in one room.  The plentiful supply of tea and cake provided a relaxed atmosphere in which individuals began to support one another in the research tasks as the clock ticked down.  Indeed, the Researchathon received very positive feedback as participants enjoyed the atmosphere of the occasion and welcomed the fact that they had learned new research skills.  This researchathon may not have had a bank of phones or a flashy digital display on the numbers achieved.  Instead, it had a room, a bell, a score card and, most importantly, a highly enthusiastic group of participants who engaged with the research process. I think we all learned something that day which, to me, makes it a very successful event!

Well-Remembered Voices: Exploring First World War theatre at The Marlowe, Canterbury

On Tuesday 11 November 2014, Gateways held a study day on First World War theatre at The Marlowe, Canterbury. The day included workshops on primary sources, talks from leading researchers, discussion of key historical themes, and rehearsed readings of little-known wartime plays, as well as the launch of Gateways’ new travelling exhibition on theatre and performance in the First World War. Organiser Dr Helen Brooks reflects on a successful event:

“It is easy to get bogged down (excuse the pun) in the Battles of Trench Warfare, but now I see that plays of the time are an insight into the culture of the time, which to me is equally as important in understanding the reasoning behind the Great War. This new insight has opened up a whole new perspective”. Lindsay Kennett, who wrote these words in an email to me last week, was just one of the 30 plus participants who took part in our public study day on First World War theatre, on Tuesday, 11 November at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury. The aim of the day was to raise public awareness about how looking at theatre can shed new light on ideas about, and responses to the war: for Lindsay and the many other participants who echoed her sentiments in their feedback, it was clearly a great success.


Over the course of the day we got stuck into a diverse range of activities, all of which were facilitated ably by a team of fantastic student, and ex-student helpers from the Drama Department in the University of Kent’s School of Arts – Rebecca O’Brien, Rebecca Sharp, Kinga Krol, and Charlotte Merrikin. Beginning with a brilliant workshop run by Jane Gallagher, the Special Collections archivist at the Templeman Library, participants had a chance to get ‘hands on’ with sources from Special Collection’s archives (including newspaper clippings, scripts, programs and playbills) and to interrogate them in order to answer questions such as ‘how did the theatre “do its bit” for the war effort?’, ‘what impact did the war have on the theatre industry?’, ‘in what different ways was the theme of war treated in performance?’, and ‘how did audiences change during the war?’. This last question then led us into Professor Viv Gardner’s (University of Manchester) stimulating talk about audiences during the war. Reminding us that audiences were made up of diverse groups and that their responses changed depending on the context of the performance, Viv also drew on some moving stories about individual spectators which brought to life the experience of theatre-going during the war.


After a delicious lunch, courtesy of the Marlowe, and an opportunity to chat to each other about our diverse interests and backgrounds (participants included students from the Langtons schools, members of the Western Front Association, and local historians, to name but a few) the afternoon began with rehearsed readings of three First World War one-act plays: The Devil’s Business by J. Fenner Brockway (1914); God’s Outcasts by J. Hartley Manners (1919); and A Well Remembered Voice by J.M. Barrie (1918). It was quite something to see these plays brought to life, the first two quite probably for the first time ever. The actors, including three University of Kent Drama students, Zach Wilson (PhD), Alexander Sullivan, and Louise Hoare, all did an excellent job, especially as the plays were quite distinct in tone and style, and as the actors had only had two and a half days rehearsal in total. After a stimulating discussion about the plays, with some excellent insights from audience members, the day was then rounded off nicely with a thoughtful talk by Dr Andrew Maunder (Reader at University of Hertfordshire) about his own experience of staging ‘lost’ WW1 plays, and in particular A Well Remembered Voice.

This wasn’t the end though! After just a few hours break – during which it was exciting to see our pop-up exhibition on WW1 theatre in the Foyer attracting a lot of attention from audiences waiting to see the RSC – many of us were back at the Marlowe for the evening rehearsed readings. It was great to see an almost entirely new audience for this. As well as a number of Kent students people came from as far as Dover to join us for this exciting performance. Three of the one-act plays we shared were the same as in the afternoon (although the performances were quite different in energy, something the actors reflected on in the questions afterwards) and we also added an unpublished short play about the Belgian experience during the war entitled There was a King in Flanders (1915) by John G. Brandon. With these four pieces we therefore covered not only the chronological breadth of the war but also a number of different responses to this world event. From The Devil’s Business (1914), a biting satire on the arms trade and its place in fuelling conflict, which was banned in London during the war; to There was a King in Flanders (1915) with its focus on a dying Belgian soldier; and finally to God’s Outcasts (1919) and A Well Remembered Voice (1918) both of which offer sharply different responses towards grief, the plays as a whole offered new insights into the diverse ways in which theatre treated the war between 1914 and 1918. And with insightful comments and an enthusiastic response from the audience, it seems there’s certainly potential to hold similar events in the future.


If you’d like to find out more about Theatre of the First World War, contact Dr Helen Brooks at Our pop-up exhibition on Theatre of the First World War is available for free loan to theatres, schools and other public institutions. If you would like to host this exhibition simply get in touch with There is no charge for hosting or delivery.

This study day was one of a series of events being run by Gateways to the First World War. To find out more visit our events page.


All photographs courtesy of Leila Sangtabi, University of Kent.

Gateways Open Day at the National Maritime Museum


On 28 September 2014, Gateways to the First World War held a public open day at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. This event brought together representatives from a wide range of organisations working on the First World War, and gave members of the public the opportunity to find out about a number of different projects being organised to commemorate the centenary. Local organisations such as Chatham Historic Dockyard and Greenwich Heritage Centre provided tasters of their First World War research and exhibitions.  Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) projects supported by the Gateways team, such as Superact’s ‘The Last Post’ and the National Children’s Football Alliance, showcased some of their work. Representatives from the British Association for Local History, HLF, the War Memorials Trust, The Western Front Association and many others were also present, offering advice on how to get involved in centenary projects and events.


A selection of the day’s exhibitors

Given its location, there was certainly a maritime feel to this event. Quintin Colville (National Maritime Museum) led a tour of the ‘Forgotten Fighters of the First World War’ gallery, an exhibition documenting the naval dimension of the First World War.  On this tour, he outlined how the exhibition was constructed, and how individual items were chosen for display. Chris Bellamy (University of Greenwich) gave an evocative lecture on the First World War at sea, and how developments at sea often affected the land battles that are imprinted on public awareness of this conflict. These sessions highlighted a dimension that is often forgotten in the wider public remembrance of the conflict.


Quintin Colville (National Maritime Museum) introduces the Forgotten Fighters of the First World War exhibition

Alongside these sessions, there were opportunities for members of the public to think about how they could study the First World War, and how they could use source material to chart their family’s involvement in the conflict. Chris Ware (University of Greenwich) ran a public session outlining how to ‘fish’ for your ancestors, using archival resources present at the National Maritime Museum and at the National Archives. He used examples from his own family history to illustrate the sort of projects that could be conducted, and how these resources could be used in a practical manner. Tracey Weller (National Maritime Museum) ran a ‘Show and Tell’ session, using an array of primary source materials from the museum.

Kate Morgan, a third year undergraduate student in the School of History, University of Kent, found the day ‘extremely informative with a particular highlight being the talk given by the exhibition curator. I am in the process of researching the First World War for my dissertation, and found the information available, particularly concerning primary sources, very useful.’


Professor Mark Connelly and Dr Lucy Noakes spoke to budding historians of all ages!

The open day was the first of an extensive series of events planned and supported by Gateways. Events coming up in 2014 include:

31 October: ‘Discover Portsmouth in the First World War’, free discovery day, Portsmouth City Museum

11 November: Well-Remembered Voices, a one-day public event exploring how theatre responded to the events of 1914-1918 at The Marlowe, Canterbury

20 November: ‘Whose Remembrance?’ A film presentation, panel discussion and Q&A session at the University of Leeds, organised in partnership with Legacies of War and the Imperial War Museum

12 December: ‘Representations of the Christmas Truce’, a one-day public symposium at the University of Kent

Community Heritage Researcher Introduction


My name is Sam Carroll and I am the newly appointed Community Heritage Researcher for Gateways to the First World War. I am delighted to join such an exciting public engagement centre and team of expert colleagues. My role involves communicating between our seven academic investigators and community partners in order to organise and publicise our centre’s events. As well as engaging with those in the community that are currently working on First World War research projects, I am keen to liaise with those that are nurturing fresh ideas for new projects. I will be able to point you in the right direction for potential funding and offer some advice around shaping projects and developing outcomes. You can get in touch with me by marking an email FAO Sam Carroll via

Back to Blighty: The Medical Front in Tunbridge Wells

Emma Purce, University of Kent 

This year, in conjunction with the Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery, a number of postgraduate students from the School of History have been co-curating an exhibition to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. ‘Back to Blighty: The Medical Front in Tunbridge Wells’ focuses on the healing of wounded soldiers in Tunbridge Wells, with particular reference to the use of various local stately homes as auxiliary hospitals and places of convalescence for wounded servicemen. The project has involved archival research to find personal testimonies from the soldiers and nurses who were recovering and working in Kent throughout the First World War, in the hope of linking these individual stories to the stately homes local to Tunbridge Wells.

Undertaking research at the Tunbridge Wells Museum

Undertaking research with Tunbridge Wells Museum staff Jeremy Kimmel and Elizabeth Douglas.

Following the completion of the archival research, there was an opportunity to think creatively about the way the exhibition should look. This included discussions about the housing of a number of interesting artefacts, which depict some of the ways that the successful healing of wounded soldiers was accomplished at Tunbridge Wells. Examples of the potential exhibits considered, included: the X-Ray of an arm shattered by a bullet wound, a soldiers medical kit, and a V.A.D nurses uniform, as well as a wide variety of photographs of men who were recovering from the injuries sustained at war. The exhibition, therefore, tracks the journey of the wounded soldier from injury on the battlefield and the immediate medical attention they received, to their return to England and the beginning of their journey to recovery. The exhibition will open on Friday 25th July 2014 and runs until January 2015.  

School of History postgraduates involved in the Tunbridge Wells project: Emily Bartlett, Emma Purce, Paul Ketley and Jack Davies

School of History postgraduates involved in the Tunbridge Wells project: Emily Bartlett, Emma Purce, Paul Ketley and Jack Davies



War: An Emotional History. British Academy Conference, London, 9-11 July 2014

Lucy Noakes, one of the Co-Investigators of the ‘Gateways ‘ project and Reader in History at the University of Brighton, was co-convenor of the recent conference War: An Emotional History held at the British Academy in London from 9-11 July 2014.

Conference convenors (l to r)Clare Langhamer, Lucy Noakes and Claudia Siebrecht.

Conference convenors (l to r) Professor Claire Langhamer, Dr Lucy Noakes and  Dr Claudia Siebrecht.

The conference bought together historians from around the world to consider the ways that ‘emotional history’ can help us understand the experience and legacies of warfare across a range of different places and times.  Papers given ranged, chronologically, from investigating the emotional history of the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries in the Netherlands and the 1641 Portadown Massacre to a discussion of the multiple legacies of the Greek Civil War and the Northern Ireland conflict. Keynote addresses from Professor Ute Frevert, of the Max Planck Institute, Berlin, and Professor Martin Francis, of the University of Cincinnatti, examined, respectively, honour, shame and sacrifice in First World War Germany, and the relationship between private lives and public diplomacy in Second World War Cairo.

There was a wealth of discussion of the two world wars of the 20th century, with a variety of papers exploring the emotional history of the First World War.  The conference offered an opportunity to engage with work being carried out on the ongoing legacies of this conflict across the globe: these included Professor Christa Hämmerle talking about her research on love letters in Austria and Germany in the two world wars, Dr Claudia Siebrecht discussing patriotic, religious and maternal love in First World War Germany, Professor Michael Roper debating the impact of the First World War on families and Professor Joy Damousi considering the transnational impact of grief on families during and after the war.

Professor Jay Winter

Professor Jay Winter

A highlight of the conference was Professor Jay Winter’s (Yale) public lecture on shell shock and the emotional history of the First World War. Professor Winter made a compelling case for the under reporting of shell shock cases, arguing that current estimates of the 2-4% of men suffering from the condition during and after the war could, in fact, be increased tenfold.  Professor Winter’s talk can be viewed via this link:

Plans are afoot for the publication of a collection of the talks given at the conference, and details will be posted here once a final decision is made on this.

Photos reproduced with permission from the British Academy.

AHRC Connected Communities Festival, 2-3 July 2014

The AHRC’s Connected Communities Festival held in Cardiff  at the start of July provided a welcome opportunity for members of all five of the AHRC’s First World War engagement centres to get together and talk about our various projects, both with each other, and with members of the public. Helen Brooks was there representing the Gateways Centre and over two days, at the Motorpoint in the heart of Cardiff, had the opportunity to talk about the First World War with a diversity of people, as well as to have stimulating discussions with people from other AHRC-funded projects.

Connected Communities 2      Connected Communities 1

As part of the event, the centres were asked to put together a collaborative workshop which, it was decided, would focus on two key themes which overlap all the centres: cultures of commemoration; and theatre about, and during, the war. The workshop was well attended, despite the difficulties in transport, and finding the room we were in! And audiences had a chance to hear about a range of work taking place across the centres. Ian Grosvenor, from Voices of War and Peace, screened a video reflecting on work undertaken with local schools, whilst Jonathan Coope and Paul Elliott from the Centre for Hidden Histories shared some of their findings of their Green Spaces project which looked at parks in Nottingham during the war. In the section on ‘Performing the First World War’ Andrew Maunder, from Everyday Lives in War, talked about a recent staging of J.M. Barrie’s A Well Remembered Voice at Hertfordshire, raising questions about how drama can shed light on people’s experiences and attitudes during the war. In an interesting contrast, focusing on new drama created from local First World War material, Brenda Winter-Palmer from Living Legacies 1914-1918 discussed the process involved in making her recent play The Medal in the Drawer, and it’s connection to her own experience of researching her grandfather’s role in the Great War. Highlighting the importance of theatre in upcoming commemorative projects, Dr Winter-Palmer pointed to drama’s unique ability to allow divergent opinions and perspectives to be voiced simultaneously, a theme which Gateways will be developing further in our upcoming collaborative events with the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury.

Covering a diversity of projects, the workshop provided a welcome opportunity to discuss how the centres can engage with the complex and contested legacies of the war when working with local communities. A key theme which arose was the importance of questioning myths of the war, and allowing for a range of historic experiences and attitudes to be reflected in commemorative activities.  Some excellent questions from audience members provided stimulating discussion around these topics, making for a very engaging event.

Lest We Forget Project, Portsmouth

Gateways is helping the people of Portsmouth research and uncover the stories of those who took part in the First World War at the front and at home in an Exhibition which will run from the 19 July 2014 to 25 January 2015.

Portsmouth City Museum, in partnership with the University of Portsmouth, was awarded £97,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Lest We Forget project which encourages community groups, families and individuals to contribute to the exhibition.

Dr Brad Beaven preparing the Lest We Forget exhibition

Dr Brad Beaven preparing artefacts for display in the Lest We Forget exhibition

The starting point for Lest We Forget was the museum and archive collections which hold First World War material relating to over 200 individuals who experienced war at the front or at home. Dr Brad Beaven, a Gateways Co-Investigator and guest curator of the exhibition, explained how the project evolved. ‘Work for the exhibition began earlier in the year when we put a call out to community groups and schools for help in researching the individuals and objects in the collection. The response has been fantastic and we have a really impressive level of community engagement from researching timelines to choirs singing war songs for our “sound showers” in the exhibition’.

Visitors to the exhibition are also encouraged to get involved. ‘Research hubs’ have been set-up in the exhibition to allow people to research names of individuals and objects in the collection. Dr Beaven commented that ‘with over 200 names in the exhibition we have gaps in our knowledge and we’d encourage visitors to add to our growing collection of personal stories’.

How You Can Get Involved

Add details of your ancestors to the Tale of One City Community History website.

Add details of your World War One projects to the Community history website under the topics and places sections.

Please do let us know if you are working on a local community history or schools project relating to the First World War – we can list your project on the web site. We are also working directly working with some community groups to support their projects.

The project coordinator would be pleased to visit your group to tell your more about the project. Let us know if you are interested.

Step Short and Folkestone and the First World War Project

Dr Will Butler, University of Kent

Over the past eight months, I have been working as the project manager and lead researcher for an exhibition at the Step Short premises in Folkestone, and a self-guided walking tour app of the town, taking in sights that were of significance during the First World War.

Aerial shot of Harbour (2)

Aerial view of wartime Folkestone

The idea of the project was to provide a very local perspective of the war, and how it affected its local population. Throughout the war, Folkestone acted as one of the main thoroughfares for a plethora of different nationalities, those either escaping the European mainland, or making their way to it. Much is known of the Belgian refugees, and British, Canadian, and American soldiers who stayed and passed through Folkestone, but it is important to tell the story of those left behind: how the changing makeup of the town influenced its people, how they lived and worked, and how the town itself was altered during over four years of conflict.

Belgium Refugees-inner harbour

Belgian Refugees in Folkestone

Naturally, Folkestone, “The Queen of the South Coast” as one handbook described it, as one of the most popular seaside resorts in Edwardian Britain, was used to an influx of people, especially during the summer months. Therefore, the rapid change in the demographic of the town was less of a culture shock than it may have been in other towns. There were few problems between the townspeople and its visitors, but this does not mean that there were no issues at all. Friction existed between soldiers and shopkeepers when high prices were charged; petty crime increased; prostitution became a real concern; and a whole host of regulations that restricted movement took its toll on how the town worked.

The relations, however, were, on the whole, harmonious. All concerned appeared to benefit from the arrangement- the town provided the soldiers and refugees with a comfortable environment to stay, and in turn, the inhabitants were afforded economic stability, and a whole host of entertainment opportunities, from musical performances to sporting events (Baseball had even been introduced to the town by 1918).

The exhibition will provide information and visual material to illustrate some of these changes and relationships, acting as a starting point for those interested in the history of Folkestone, and those with a wider interest in the home front, or the war in general. Additionally, the self-guided tour will demonstrate, through photographs and written information, how many locations were transformed by the war, and how they have changed subsequently. This culminates with a walk along the Leas to the newly erected Memorial Arch, which commemorates all those who passed through the town on their way to the front, or on their way home.

Launch of Gateways to the First World War, Friday 30th May 2014

Last week saw the launch of Gateways to the First World War, one of five AHRC-funded centres designed to enhance public engagement and mark the centenary of the conflict. Gateways is based at the University of Kent and brings together a team of researchers from the Universities of Portsmouth, Brighton, Greenwich, Leeds and Queen Mary, London. The launch was part of a First World War Study day organised by the University of Kent’s German Department. The event was opened by Professor John Baldock, the University of Kent’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research, who expressed the university’s pleasure in hosting the Centre and introduced an afternoon of debate and discussion on the First World War and its commemoration.

conference2 conference1    

Dominiek Dendooven, Dr Suzanne Bardgett, His Excellency Dr Emil Brix and Dr Deborah Holmes discuss how and why we should commemorate the First World War

One of the highlights of the event was a panel discussion on the commemoration of the First World War chaired by the event’s organiser Dr Deborah Holmes, of the German Department, and featuring Dr Emil Brix, Austria’s Ambassador to the UK, Dr Suzanne Bardgett, the Imperial War Museum’s Director of Research, and Dominiek Dendooven of In Flanders Fields Museum, Belgium. The panel led a fascinating discussion of both the problems and benefits of commemorating an event often complicated by ‘contested memories’. Dr Brix expressed his belief in the importance of European collaboration in the commemoration of the war, and Mr Dendooven discussed the ways in which the Flanders Field Museum is attempting to overcome national boundaries through exhibitions focused on individual war experiences. Dr Bardgett outlined some of the exciting centenary projects supported by the Imperial War Museum, including Lives of the First World War, the First World War Partnership, and Whose Remembrance?, the IWM’s project to investigate the role of colonial troops in the conflict. The discussion reinforced one of the key aims of the Gateways project: to encourage academics and the wider public to work together to discover connections between the local and the global during the First World War. As Gateways’ Director Professor Mark Connelly stated, the conflict was, for Kent and the South East in particular, a ‘global event with global repercussions’ which took place ‘on the doorstep’.


Gateways Director Professor Mark Connelly with His Excellency Dr Emil Brix, Dr Deborah Holmes and Dr Heide Kunzelmann

The panel discussion was followed by an illustrated lecture by Professor Connelly and Dr Heide Kunzelmann, of the German Department, presenting photographs taken of troop mobilisation and prisoners of war in 1914 by Dr Kunzelmann’s great-grandfather, a medical officer in the Habsburg Army. Comparing these newly discovered sources to photographs taken by British officers in 1914, the pair talked about the connections between the personal and the public, and the similarities between artefacts of the First World War from different sides of the conflict. Through their discussion of the photographs – which focused on the themes of mobilization, violence, vulnerability and reconstruction – they emphasised the importance of revisiting accepted and established approaches to the conflict.

img023 img017 Photographs taken by Dr Friedrich Kunzelmann in 1914

The event ended with a drinks reception and official launch of the Gateways to the First World War Centre. Professor Connelly and Dr Will Butler outlined some of the centenary projects already underway, including a collaboration with Step Short of Folkestone on an app tour highlighting the town’s connections to the conflict, and guests were shown the newly-launched Gateways website. After a successful opening event, the Gateways team is now looking forward to developing its work with local groups and organisations on a range of First World War projects across the UK. The Centre aims to encourage and support public interest in the conflict through a range of events and activities such as open days and study days, providing access to materials and expertise, and signposting for other resources and forms of support. Forthcoming events include:

19th July 2014 – 25th January 2015 – ‘Lest We Forget’, an exhibition in conjunction with Portsmouth City Council

13th September 2014 – A Family History Day at Brighton Museum in conjunction with Brighton Museums and Pavilion

28th September 2014 – Gateways to the First World War Public Open Day, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

12th December 2014 – ‘Representations of the Christmas Truce’, a one day symposium at the University of Kent

More details of these and many other projects can be found on the Gateways website at The Gateways team can be contacted at and via Twitter and Facebook.