Birmingham Children of War

September 12 2016 saw the official launch of Birmingham Children of War. This six month project, run by the Friends of Birmingham Archives and Heritage (FoBAH), with funding from the Heritage Lottery through their ‘First World War: then and now’ grants programme, was established to explore the experiences of children born or living through the First World War in Birmingham.

Hall of Memory, Broad Street, Birmingham. Plaque (last of three) William Bloye. 1925.

The launch in the Wolfson Centre in the Library of Birmingham identified some initial archive and library resources to help us to learn more about children’s lives during this tumultuous period. A small selection of resources had been chosen to illustrate some of the themes that the project hoped to investigate in more depth with the help of volunteers and in partnership with other organisations.

The impact of war on schools and education, health, maternity and infant care, recreation and play, juvenile delinquency and youth employment were just a few of the aspects we had hoped to learn more about. We had also started to spot some of the gaps, for example finding contemporary evidence from children themselves through writing or other media proved difficult despite the existence of some essays and later reminiscences. But equally important was our intent to encourage volunteers and newcomers to engage with a range of archival and library resources.

Since that date the project has been ably co-ordinated by Liz Palmer, and we have been fortunate to have been joined by an active group of just such volunteers who have explored many sources in the Library of Birmingham and beyond, and have made a major contribution to the success of this project.  The early weeks of this project were guided by staff of the Birmingham Archives and Collection Service and FoBAH members as volunteers came to grips with the topics they had chosen to investigate.  Liz provided weekly advice sessions and several subject-specific workshops were also held.  As research skills developed, project members shared elements of their findings in online blogs, gave talks at a nearby ‘history’ evening and collaborated with a local youth group investigating the use of semaphore.  Together the group has produced an informative research guide which will be launched on March 11 2017 at the Annual General Meeting of FoBAH in the Library of Birmingham.  Details of this event are given below and all are welcome to attend.


The Annual General Meeting of FoBAH (the Friends of Birmingham Archives and Heritage) will be held at 12 noon on Saturday, 11 March 2017 in the Heritage Learning Space on floor 4 of the Library of Birmingham.

Following the formal element of the AGM, during which members and visitors will review the work of the Friends committee over the past year, the rest of this event will celebrate the completion of the FoBAH-supported project, ‘Children of War’.

Visitors, particularly children, are welcome!

Come along on Saturday, 11 March 2017 between 1.30 and 4.30pm and enjoy:-

  • An exhibition of archive material
  • Mini talks
  • Children’s Trail
  • Craft activities
  • Archive Film Footage
  • Musical entertainments

Free entry and no need to book!









2 thoughts on “Birmingham Children of War”

  1. As project co-ordinator for the above project I’d just like to add my gratitude to all the staff in Birmingham Archives & Collections for their support and help during the project. They’ve helped tremendously with retrieving and keeping track of materials we’ve used and shown great patience with the volunteers as they’ve learnt the ropes. The project wouldn’t have been so successful – or pleasurable to work on without them.

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