Reasearching school memorials

Recently Helen, a graduate student from the University of Vermont, came to use the archive.

Helen was in Britain for the summer conducting research for her thesis on ‘Commemoration and Curriculum: The Great War in British Secondary Education.’ 

She was interested in the place of the First World War in British secondary education, both in and out of the classroom.  She had several questions.  What types of war memorials were erected at British Schools? Who did they commemorate? When were they constructed? What discussions, debates, or ceremonies surrounded their creation and dedication?

During the two days she spent with us she used both the online database and corresponding paper files to study 150 different school memorials.  Mostly this was their physical description and inscriptions, but many files also included details about the unveilings.  The archive was particularly useful for finding out about schools other than public schools, for which there was already a lot of information available.

She hopes the information will help her to compare how the war was commemorated in different types of schools.  One interesting example can be seen by comparing inscriptions from the following two schools. 

The inscription on the Stockport Municipal Secondary School memorial focuses on the sacrifice for ‘England’.

“Old Boys who died for their country/ (names)/ “Your lives for honour & for England given/ the school will not forget.”

While Barrow Village School takes a more universal approach, describing the “the brave sons of the Empire/ who fell on the battlefields/ of/ Europe, Asia and Africa/ They have fought the good fight/ dying/ in the cause of humanity that/ honour/ might live”


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