(Posted on behalf of Sarah Wilkin)
2016 is a significant year in First World War centenary commemorations, with the recent anniversary of the Battle of Jutland and nationwide plans in place to mark the start of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. Staff at Academic IT Services have long been involved in a number of projects associated with the War; this year our activities are taking new and varied directions.
First World War research competition
Supported by the University’s Van Houten Fund, and in partnership with TORCH, Academic IT Services is pleased to announce the launch of our First World War competition. We invite proposals for either blog posts or short podcasts (audio or video) as follows:
- Students and early career researchers from any discipline are invited to submit proposals to present new perspectives on the War and its impact.
- College, library and museum staff are invited to submit proposals telling a story of the University in World War One.
Successful proposals will be supported to develop their digital content for publication through one or more of the University’s global channels, including Oxford on iTunesU, Oxford Podcasts, the Oxford World War I Centenary Programme and World War One Centenary: Continuations and Beginnings.
The awards will be judged by a panel of specialists on the First World War and public engagement. Prizes will include an iPad Mini and an exciting opportunity to network with experts at the conference of the International Society for First World War Studies (ISFWW) in November.
ISFWW conference and community collection
The 9th conference of the ISFWW will take place in Oxford on 10th and 11th November, and the keynote speakers will be recorded by Academic IT Services’ Educational Media Team.
We are also engaged in discussions to support a community collection day as part of the event. Members of the general public will be invited to share their stories and digitise their World War One related memorabilia (letters, documents, photographs, artefacts) for upload to our own Oxford at War collection, as well as to the international archive Europeana 1914-1918. Volunteers and subject experts from the conference will be on hand to take enquiries and shed new light on the stories that the visitors bring. The timing and venue are yet to be confirmed, so if you would like to be kept informed please send an email to email@example.com.
Bringing a war diary back to life through social media
Social media has played a significant role in raising awareness of the First World War in which projects Academic IT Services staff are involved. The challenge is to make sure that these efforts remain creative and topical to attract and hold the attention of a diverse audience. One of the latest examples of this creative thinking are the daily tweets and blog that give voice to Private Mostyn Williams, of A Company in the 11th Battalion, Welsh Regiment. After his first year of wartime service, Williams started recording his observations in a diary. The entries, brief and often staccato in tone, offer us a fascinating insight into his life at the front. For example, here’s the entry he made on 13th October 1916:
Gas helmet inspection. Cap. Jones gives hints for trenches, tries to scare us. Paraded 5.30 and marched to trenches, relieved 3rd Kings Royal Rifles, bombed as we were entering trenches, made a hell of a row, nervy job.
The diary was transcribed by Williams’ grand-children. They have generously shared it through Europeana 1914-1918, where it is freely available to read.
To extend the reach of this intriguing resource even further, colleagues in Academic IT Services have created the blog Quiet day, nice weather: The War Diary of Mostyn Williams. They have also created tweets from Williams’ diary entries, and you can follow his experiences day by day at @MostynWilliams (see right).
Photograph of Mostyn Williams CC BY-SA Sue Worringham via Europeana 1914-18.