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Category: Primary Sources

On finding source material in the attic: Front Line, 1940-41

By Jacinta Mallon

Front Line, 1940-41, a booklet published by the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Home Security in 1942, claims to tell the ‘official story’ of civil defence during the blitzes on London and beyond. It arrived on my desk in 2019, as my family cleared out the attic of my grandparents’ old house – no mean task, as in over 60 years of living there they didn’t seem to throw much away! Tucked away in a forgotten cardboard box, we had found Front Line and a host of other propaganda publications which had been collected by my grandad during the conflict.

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“The rockets, dearie? Can’t say I’ve ever noticed them” – Londoners respond to the V-2

By Charlie Hall

Asking a historian to choose their favourite primary source is a cruel assignment indeed. Any piece of historical scholarship we embark on necessarily involves engagement with a great volume of primary material, especially those of us who work on the abundantly well-documented modern period. With whichever primary sources we look at, we hope that we will gain an insight into the past – not just how events unfolded, or why, but also how contemporaries reacted to these developments. This enables us to humanise historical actors and witnesses and to draw out their stories in a way that has resonance for modern readers.

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