Experiences of World War One

A local history workshop organised by British Association for Local History (BALH) and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London.

We are connected to the First World War through our family and community histories, and through the war’s impact on British and other societies. The war provided opportunities to go to new places, engage in different activities and meet people not encountered in peacetime. What were people’s experiences of different places, living under different conditions, and how did they engage with different cultures?

This is an introduction to researching war experience and its legacy: individual, family and community perspectives through the prism of the local, national and international.


  • how did local communities interact with colonial and Dominion troops?
  • in what ways did racial issues impact on local community relations during the war, and in its
  • aftermath?
  • what relationships evolved between communities, hospitals where colonial/Dominion troops
  • were treated and individual soldiers?
  • how might the war’s legacy be informed by ethnic minority histories?
  • during the war years, and after, how was the idea of Empire experienced, understood and
  • imagined by people in British localities?
  • to what extent did war change European colonial victors’ views of their extended Empires?

Themes will be illustrated by reference to sources such as newspapers, local authority records, diaries, correspondence, Imperial War Museum archives, The National Archives and websites.


10.00 – Registration, and coffee/tea

10:30 – Welcome and introduction: Professor Philip Murphy, Director, Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICwS).

10:45 – Keynote: Dr Catriona Pennell (Exeter) on the relationship of locality to national and international events in the First World War. Dr Pennell is author of A Kingdom United: Popular Responses to the Outbreak of the First World War in Britain and Ireland (OUP, 2012).

11:30 – Local responses to ‘the other’: Chair: Dr Kate Tiller, Chair, BALH education committee
Roger Smither (Imperial War Museum): Whose remembrance? a study of available research on communities in Britain, and the colonial experience of the First World War.
Dr Richard Smith (Goldsmiths, University of London): Responses to Black and Indian soldiers in Britain.

13:00 – Lunch

14:00 – Localities, nations and Empire: Britain and Ireland in times of crisis, 1912-1922.
Professor David Killingray (Goldsmiths, University of London; and ICwS)
Chair: Professor Philip Murphy, Director ICwS

14.50 – Using The National Archives colonial records.
Dr Mandy Banton (ICwS), author of Administering the Empire 1801-1968: A Guide to the Records of the Colonial Office in The National Archives of the UK  (University of London IHR in conjunction with TNA UK, 2008).

15.45 – Final discussion, and tea.

Date and time: 28 February 2014, 10:00 – 16:15
Venue: The Senate Room (Senate House, First Floor)

To register for this event please complete online registration or download the registration form and send it to –

Olga Jimenez
Room 224A, Senate House
Malet Street

Please email ics@sas.ac.uk if you have any queries regarding this event.

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