Over the last few weeks FoBAH volunteers have been searching archives and library catalogues identifying resources that will help us to learn more about children’s lives during this tumultuous period. Some of this material will be on display in a pop-up exhibition in the Wolfson Centre from 5 – 6.30pm. It has been chosen to illustrate some of the themes that the project will be investigating in more depth over the next six months with the help of more volunteers and in partnership with schools and other organisations.The impact of war on schools and education, health, maternity and infant care, recreation and play, juvenile delinquency and youth employment are just a few of the aspects we hope to learn more about. Even during this preparatory stage, we have learned a great deal about aspects of children’s lives during the period and identified a number of resources some of which may not have been obvious at the start. For example, an inquest into the tragic death of two babies in a fire in a nursery provides detailed background information into the funding and running of new day nurseries set up to cater for childcare needs of female munition workers; some of whom may still be teenagers themselves. We have also started to spot some of the gaps. Finding contemporary evidence from children themselves through writing or other media is difficult although we have located some essays and also later reminiscences. This is an area that we hope to address later via an appeal to the public for diaries, letters, drawings and other memorabilia which we can scan, photograph or add to the archives.
But almost as important is the way in which we want to encourage volunteers and other participants such as schoolchildren and students to engage with a range of archival and library resources. Both the project co-ordinator and some key volunteers are ex-employees of Birmingham Archives and are well placed to assist newer volunteers, including those with little or no previous experience, access catalogues and share other archival research skills.None of this would be possible without the assistance provided by the staff and we are particularly grateful to Archives Manager, Corinna Rayner, and Archivist, Nicola Crews, for their support during the preparation for our Launch event.
If you want to know more about the project, or better still to find out how you can get involved, please come along to the launch. And you can follow our progress via social media including our blog at https://birminghamchildrenofwarblog.wordpress.com/ , our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BhamChildrenofWar/ and Twitter https://twitter.com/BmChildrenOfWar
Liz Palmer – Project Co-ordinator