I’m really pleased to be involved in this new project by the People’s Heritage Co-operative, Untold Stories: Birmingham’s Wounded Soldiers from WW1, which has been funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund First World War Then and Now grant. The project will focus on the untold stories of soldiers returning to Birmingham from the Great War with serious physical and psychological injuries. It will map the sites of hospital treatment and convalescence that were set up in the city and will explore what happened to the soldiers after their treatment ended.
Untold Stories will bring together the People’s Heritage Co-operative’s existing knowledge along with new research findings from local archives in order to tell a more comprehensive story of what happened to injured soldiers. The project will explore the people who were directly involved and the impact on the city as a whole during the immediate war period and in the subsequent decades. The Co-operative will work together with local schools and members of the public in a series of community workshops to research the topic and produce an accessible learning guide that will be available for download on the Co-operative’s website, drawing together fragmented information about Birmingham as a site of medical treatment for military personnel during the First World War. The guide will also provide a practical purpose and support; listing helpful websites, relevant archives and heritage material, and their repositories.
Through connecting with the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and organisations like the Royal British Legion, Blesma, The Limbless Veteran’s Charity, and Changing Faces, the project will encourage conversations about heritage and the representation of disabled and injured people in the archive with people who may not ordinarily engage with it or may not have experience of working with historical material both in the past and currently. Untold Stories will also increase awareness of the issues around disability by exploring trauma and injury that happened as a result of the First World War alongside considering questions around the lack of representation of people with disabilities in the archive.
Please visit the People’s Heritage Co-operative website for a list of forthcoming events and opportunities to get involved.
Header image: Soldiers playing billiards, Highbury Hospital. Reproduced with permission of the Library of Birmingham