Food, Family & Home in WW1 conference

All films from the Midlands’ Women’s History Network conference on 5 March 2016 are now available online via the Women’s History Network West Midlands youTube channel.

The films include a 5-minute round-up of the event, and each of the day’s presentations:

‘The Kitchen is the Key to Victory’: Women, Food and the Great War

  • Professor Karen Hunt – University of Keele

Everybody’s talking about food: food and women’s magazines in the First World War

  • Jennifer Doyle – Kings College, University of London

Everybody’s Business: Film, Food & Victory in the First World War

  • Dr Stella Hockenhull- University of Wolverhampton

Researching Home, Food and Family: Panel Discussion and Q&A

  • Professor Maggie Andrews  -University of Worcester and Voices of War and Peace Community Engagement Centre lead on Gender and the Home Front
  • Susanne Atkin – independent researcher participating in WW1 in the Vale (HLF-funded project)
  • Julia Letts – Oral Historian and project co-ordinator for The Great Blackberry Pick (HLF-funded project)
  • Dr Janis Lomas – Independent Researcher
  • Chaired by  Jenni Waugh – Community History consultant and project co-ordinator for WW1 in the Vale (HLF-funded project)

Filmed for us by James McDonald of Clear Picture Productions.

Entries invited for Women’s History Network Community History Prize

Women’s History Network – Community History Prize sponsored by the History Press Have you worked with a community group to find out more about the history of local women in the last 12 months? This annual prize of £500 is awarded to the team behind a Community History Project by, about, or for Women in […]

via Women’s History Network – Community History Prize — AIM Blog for independent museums and heritage sites

Museum+Heritage Awards 2016

A fantastic thing about being a consultant is how many great projects and teams I am privileged to work with on a daily basis. So you can imagine my pride when, on reading the shortlist for the Museum+Heritage Awards this year, I found 3 clients had been nominated as well as 2 organisations for whom I volunteer.

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Top of the list of course, were the team at the Coffin Works, run by Birmingham Conservation Trust, of which I am a trustee.  We were up for the Customer Service Award – very fitting given the passion of our staff and volunteers, and my own professional interest in good quality visitor experience.  Christine Cushing, one of our excellent FoH volunteers and I were there at the ceremony to represent everyone.

In the Educational Initiative category were the talented Creative Bridges team from Herbert Media, part of Culture Coventry, whose 2-year Esmee Fairbairn-funded project I am evaluating.  Their project is focussed on building the confidence and embloyability skills of young adults with learning disabilities, involving them in live commissions and work experience in some of the City’s many creative industries.  It’s a fascinating project that is proving very satisfying for its participants.  Project manager, Kerrie Suteu was there to collect a HIGHLY COMMENDED for the team.

Staying with Culture Coventry, Coventry Transport Museum were nominated for the Permanent Exhibition Award.  The HLF and EDRF-funded project has enabled the Culture Coventry team not only to redisplay all but 2 galleries in their huge venue, but also to overhaul their learning and community programming, and build a new volunteering programme for front of house that may well see them nominated in years to come.  I am working with DC Research on the evaluation of this work over the next 2 years.  Although unplaced, the team were in excellent company on the shortlist.

NT Croome, whom I have worked with over the last decade whilst volunteering for NT Whose Story? and NT Regional Advisory Boards, were nominated for a Trading & Enterprise award for their innovative Sky Cafe, perched on top of the scaffolding above the current HLF-funded restoration work on the Court.  They were HIGHLY COMMENDED, behind the winners, Black Country Living Museum.  So what ever happened, the prizes all came to the West Midlands!  And it was lovely to see that the volunteers from the Defford Airfield Trust, who now have a museum space at Croome, were nominated for the Volunteers of the Year Award too.

Last of my clients up for an award were the Cadbury Research Library, part of the Special Collections Department at the University of Birmingham, nominated for the Restoration or Conservation prize for their work on identifying, restoring and exhibiting the 9th Century Qu’ranic Manuscripts recently discovered in the Mingana collection.  Josefine Frank, project manager, found the resultant exhibition and community interest provided a tremendous boost to the Esmee Fairbairn/MA Collections-funded Mingana Community Engagement activity, and I shall certainly enjoy writing up its effects in my final evaluation report. Sadly, the team went home empty handed, but the shortlist recognition for their conservation staff is well deserved.

So what of the Coffin Works you cry?  Did we win?  

“Quirky, innovative, creative, passionate.” That’s us!

Christine and I were over the moon on behalf of the team.  Really.  If we could have rocketed up there, we would have done.  We managed to get to the stage, make a speech, and sit down again without tripping over, and we were so proud and thrilled by the prize and by the outpouring of compliments in person and online for our wonderful staff and volunteers (you can see those in our storify of the event).

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Christine Cushing, self, and presenter, Marcus Brigstocke, collecting the Coffin Works award for Customer Service at the M+H Awards 2016. Photo copyright Simon Callaghan.

The Coffin Works has won 6 awards since we opened in October 2014, for the building restoration, for the collections conservation, for the volunteers.  This one, alongside the People’s Choice Award at the Heritage Angel Awards 2015, is one of the most important.  A great building, dedicated curators, passionate staff and volunteers are nothing without the support of the public, and a great visitor experience.  As a trustee, I work hard with the team to make sure we offer that, and reviews on Tripadvisor and from our peers tell us that it is Top Class.  Thanks everyone!

 

 

Art & reminiscence work with dementia patients

Last Autumn, it was my pleasure to research and evaluate the contribution that structured Art & Reminiscence activity can provide to the daily life and care of dementia patients in residential homes.

The full report can be downloaded here: Arts and Reminiscence in Wychavon Care Homes report 2016-02-15

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Commissioned by Museums Worcestershire and Wychavon District Council Arts Development Officer, the creative and reminiscence activities took place over 5 weeks in 6 different residential care homes across the Wychavon area.  The activity was intended as a pilot – although both organisations have carried out one-off activities in care homes over the last few years, this was their first concerted attempt at providing more in-depth and structured activity over a period of weeks.

 

The work was very challenging, given the participants’ varied capacity to take part.  In some homes, the groups sizes were comparatively small (up to 6 participants) making it easier for the facilitators to focus on each individual and encourage them to take part.  In other homes, large group sizes or the profound state of some participants’ dementia made it far more difficult to make a meaningful connection.  However, as the sessions ran over a series of weeks, the facilitators were able both to build a relationship with the more able participants, and to make slow roads toward connection with the more profoundly disabled residents.

Both facilitators spoke of the work as being emotionally laborious, but also of the rewards they felt they had received when a silent participant suddenly smiled in recognition, or reached for a handshake before leaving.

The evaluation methodology is one that I used in 2013 on the Memories in the Making work for Wolverhampton Art Gallery, and is based upon the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMBWS) and Dementia Mapping techniques.  This Worcestershire project enabled me to test the methodology further and to continue to build upon my experience and knowledge in this rewarding field.

 

 

Happy customers at the Home, Food & Family in WW1 conference

Last month, I was delighted to be involved in the organisation of the Home, Food & Family in World War One conference at Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings on 5 March 2016.

The event was part of the work I am doing for the University of Worcester’s Volunteers & Voters project, and was organised by Professor Maggie Andrews for the Women’s History Network (Midlands), with financial support from AHRC Voices of War & Peace and the Economic History Society.

This conference explored how housewives, children and the home played a part in producing, preserving and preparing food during World WarOne. The Dig for Victory campaigns of the Second World War have a firm place within popular consciousness yet the similar activities engaged in by people on Britain’s Home Front in World War One, when food became a weapon of war, have hitherto received little attention.

The event brought together over 90 academics, teachers, students and those working and volunteering in heritage organisations or on community projects, to share their ideas, discoveries, interests and research. Our programme of talks was complemented by displays and exhibitions from community history groups.

The speakers were:

  • Professor Karen Hunt – University of Keele: ‘The Kitchen is the Key to Victory’: Women, Food and the Great War
  • Jennifer Doyle – Kings College, University of London: Everybody’s talking about food: food and women’s magazines in the First World War
  • Dr Stella Hockenhull– University of Wolverhampton: Everybody’s Business: Film, Food and Victory in the First World War

At the end of a day there was a panel discussion and Q&A: Researching Home, Food and Family

Panellists:

  • Dr Janis Lomas – Independent Researcher
  • Julia Letts – Oral Historian and project co-ordinator for The Great Blackberry Pick (HLF-funded project)
  • Susanne Atkin – volunteer researcher participating in WW1 in the Vale, focussing on the experience of the 9th Earl of Coventry and his tenants on the Croome Estate, Pershore (HLF-funded project)
  • Professor Maggie Andrews -University of Worcester and Voices of War andPeace Community Engagement Centre lead on Gender and the Home Front. Academic lead on WW1 in the Vale (HLF-funded project)
  • Chaired by Jenni Waugh – Community History consultant and project co-ordinator for WW1 in the Vale (HLF-funded project)

Community heritage exhibitions and contributions were provided by the following projects:

TWITTER & INSTAGRAM MESSAGES throughout the day and after. (I do love a good Storify).

All of the presentations were filmed by James MacDonald of Clear Picture Productions. They are so huge that I am uploading them one by one and will post their final weblinks shortly.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

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Merry Christmas! (c) Ann Marie Hayes

This time last year, Jenni Waugh Consulting Ltd was a very new creation – a big step into the future for my career as a consultant.

It’s been a really good year for me, professionally, and for the company. We’ve taken on a number of interesting and challenging jobs, attracted new clients, and embarked upon new contracts that will keep us busy for the next 18 months.

I’d really like to thank you, both clients and supporters, for the work, the advice, the recommendations and the really really brilliant conversations.

Amongst the hard graft, there’s been a number of high points, the apotheosis being a proud trustee at the Heritage Angels award ceremony in London, when Birmingham Conservation Trust won the People’s Choice award for the restoration of the Coffin Works.

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The team from Birmingham Conservation Trust with the award for the Coffin Works restoration.

Working with two community groups from Pershore to win £20,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund so that they could realise their desire to research the WW1 Home Front in the town was another treat.  I can’t tll you how relieved I was to get the award letter – I would have hated to let them down.  We’re now building their work into a much larger public engagement programme with the University of Worcester and uncovering some wonderful stuff.

Evaluating projects around the region is always a joy – the content of the activity, the nature of the material heritage being celebrated and the diversity of the groups, ensure that no two are the same.  Work on the Mingana manuscripts project for the University of Birmingham has been slightly disrupted this year by the ‘once in ten archivists’ lifetimes’ discovery of Qu’ranic manuscripts dating back to the lifetime of the prophet.  It’s meant a new and exhilarating turn in the project activity and I look forward to seeing what happens next.

On the other hand, I have been working intensively on different projects with groups of dementia care home residents and with young people with learning disabilities.  The impact of participation and engagement in heritage and arts activity is making a difference to their quality of life and I am filled with admiration at the talent, determination and effort of all involved.

Everyday, it’s a privilege to work with and for such creative, innovative and committed people, and I love every minute.  Even the data entry!

Please continue to be excellent, over this Christmas time and into the New Year.  I look forward to more in 2016!

REVIEW OF THE YEAR

ONGOING INTO 2016

  • Museums Worcestershire: evaluation of the 3-year, HLF-funded Skills for the Future Traineeship programme, Growing Worcestershire’s Treasures
  • Culture Coventry: evaluation of the wellbeing and learning outcomes of the Esmee Fairbairn -funded Creative Bridges programme of creative and employability skills training for young people with learning disabilities
  • University of Birmingham: evaluation of the wellbeing and learning outcomes of the Mingana MSS community engagement project
  • Museums Worcs and Wychavon District Council: evaluation of wellbeing outcomes of arts & reminiscence activity in residential dementia care homes
  • University of Worcester: Sessional Lecturer for the Institute of Humanities & Creative Arts
  • H&W Earth Heritage Trust: ongoing archive research activity, volunteer training and support in research skills (online and in archives/libraries) for the Building Stones project
  • University of Worcester, Pershore WI and Pershore Heritage & History Society: fundraiser and project manager of WW1 in the Vale, a community heritage project investigating food production in Pershore during World War One (so far, £20,000 raised from HLF and £15,000 from AHRC)

COMPLETED IN 2015

  • Evaluation of the HLF-funded Medieval Abberley Revealed community archaeology project (2014-2015).
  • Training delivery in community archive management, historical research skills, community heritage project management, blog development and social media marketing
  • Evaluation programme for Birmingham Conservation Trust’s HLF-funded redevelopment of the Coffin Works; and support for delivery of community activity programme (2014)
  • Review of Museum Development activity in the West Midlands, for The Marches Curators, (2012-2015)

Back to University

Over the last four years, I have been working increasingly with universities on the development, delivery and evaluation of community heritage projects.

Two key contracts have emerged for me as a result: evaluation of the social outcomes of the University of Birmingham’s ‘Mingana MSS in the Community’ project, and development of the University of Worcester’s WW1 Home Front public engagement project, WW1 in the Vale.

It’s intriguing work – marrying the exacting demands of the experienced and confident academic with the enthusiasm but inexperience of, often self-taught, community researchers.  The key is to find the common points of interest and to build from them.  The confidence of both parties can be easily bruised, particularly when messages get mangled, so it’s important to keep the lines of communication as clear and direct as possible and to return to those common points and rebuild if necessary.

But oh! It’s distracting at times!

So often, I want so much to know more about the subject matter and get hands-on with the research, when in fact, my contracted role is more that of a mediator or coordinator.  It’s even harder for the evaluation jobs, where I need to remain professionally detached to an extent so that I can report on what occurs, rather than how I might feel about it, or whether I too would like to get stuck into the activity.

Anyway, after all this Uni talk, this summer, I suppose I got my academic break – I have now been appointed as a Sessional Lecturer for the University of Worcester’s Institute of Humanities & Creative Arts.

After years of working with adult learners in community and heritage settings – either providing volunteer/staff training, or leading workshops with community partners, and older people – working with undergraduates is proving to be fascinating, stimulating and very rewarding.

Once I got over the feeling of being, like, REALLY old (my cultural reference points fall on stony ground!), I find that their technical savvy and thirst for information is pushing my own teaching methods in new directions.  I am able to use a lot more digital material, largely because the teaching environment is set up to cope with it, and I find that the students are responsive to a wider range of active learning styles.  It’s good stuff and great fun.  I look forward to the next lecture!

‘The First World War: Nursing’ A report from the front line of the Women’s History Network Midlands Region Conference

This year’s Women’s History Network Midlands Region Conference entitled ‘The First World War: Nursing’ took place at the University of Worcester (City Campus) on Saturday, 21 November 2015.

A group photograph showing Nurse Edith Cavell (seated centre) with a group of her multinational student nurses whom she trained in Brussels’. © IWM (Q 70204)

A group photograph showing Nurse Edith Cavell (seated centre) with a group of her multinational student nurses whom she trained in Brussels’. © IWM (Q 70204)

In combination with a wide and varied programme, we received a keynote address from Prof Christine E. Hallett, The University of Manchester: ‘Le Petit Paradis des Blessés: Nurses, Nursing and Internationalism on the Western Front (1915-1918)’.

Prof Christine E. Hallett, The University of Manchester speaking about ‘Le Petit Paradis des Blessés': Nurses, Nursing and Internationalism on the Western Front (1915-1918)

Prof Christine E. Hallett, The University of Manchester speaking about ‘Le Petit Paradis des Blessés’: Nurses, Nursing and Internationalism on the Western Front (1915-1918)

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The remainder of the morning was given to a series of papers reflecting on the subsequent political and literary representations of the execution of the English nurse, Edith Cavell, by the Germans in Belgium in 1915. The speakers were Professor Alison S. Fell, University of Leeds; Professor Jean Webb, University of Worcester and Steven Moralees of the Cavell Nurses’ Trust.

Three panels were held in the afternoon: V.A.D. [Voluntary Aid Detachment] Nurses, Nursing in Europe and Trauma, Death and Therapy. Details of the speakers and their papers can be found in this pdf: WHNConf-November2015-Final

It was an absolutely exhilarating day – roomfuls of Women’s history academics generously sharing their research with each other and supporting independent researchers like myself to find out more about the hidden stories of women’s work during the First World War.   Please forgive my indulgence in storing my tweets here – I wanted to set up a Storify, but find myself mysteriously locked out from paradise. Whilst I debate my social media manners with the app moderators, I’ve gathered the commentary from the day here. As you’ll gather from my tweets, I attended Panel 3: Trauma, Death and Therapy.

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Edith Cavell and her dog. After her death, 'Jack' was adopted by Princess Mary de Croy. He died in 1923, and his stuffed remains can be seen in the Florence Nightingale Museum, St Thomas' Hospital, London. (IWM http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30083371)

Edith Cavell and her dog. After her death, ‘Jack’ was adopted by Princess Mary de Croy. He died in 1923, and his stuffed remains can be seen in the Florence Nightingale Museum, St Thomas’ Hospital, London. (IWM http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30083371)

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Celebrate! £20,000 in HLF funding secured for the WW1 in the Vale project!

We’re on our way! I’ve had to be very quiet about this one, whilst it was in development, but I am now happy to report that Pershore WI and Pershore Heritage & History Group (alias the WW1 in the Vale team) are celebrating the award of £10,000 each from the Heritage Lottery Fund First World War: Then and Now programme.

Getting started! (From left to right) Back row: Professor Maggie Andrews, University of Worcester, Susanne Atkin, volunteer researcher, Audrey Whitehouse and Beth Milsom of Pershore WI Front row: Elspeth King, University of Worcester, Audrey Humberstone, Margaret Tacey and Jean Haynes from Pershore Heritage & History Society

Getting started! (From left to right)
Back row: Professor Maggie Andrews, University of Worcester, Susanne Atkin, volunteer researcher, Audrey Whitehouse and Beth Milsom of Pershore WI
Front row: Elspeth King, University of Worcester, Audrey Humberstone, Margaret Tacey and Jean Haynes from Pershore Heritage & History Society

It’s been a long journey and a lot of hard work all round since Maggie Andrews and I produced the first public consultation event back in October 2014 at the Almonry in Evesham, but this grant award means that we can now get cracking on our research and events programme to find out more about life in the Vale during World War One. 

Over the next year, each group will follow a particular theme:

Pershore WI members will celebrate the centenary of their branch, founded in November 1916 as one of the first Women’s Institutes in the county. They will uncover the lives of its original members, including Viscountess Deerhurst of Pirton, Mrs Beynon, wife of the manager of the Pomona Jam Factory, and the wives, daughters or servants of engineers, bricklayers, tradesmen and market gardeners in the area.

Pershore Heritage & History Society will be investigating ‘How the Pershore Plum Won the War’. The fruit and vegetables grown in the Vales of Evesham and Pershore were essential to the nation’s food production. Many local residents combined market gardening and fruit growing with other trades such as pub landlord or wheelwright.

The project team will be co-ordinated by Jenni Waugh Consulting Ltd (me!) and supported by Professor Maggie Andrews, students from the University of Worcester, the Voices of War and Peace World War One Engagement Centre, Pershore Library staff and Pershore Town Council,.  We will also work with artists, an oral historian and a film-maker to record our discoveries, and have a year’s worth of exciting events and activities planned.

We also plan to produce touring exhibitions, a WW1 Pershore Town Trail and films of Food Preservation Demonstrations. We will also host a number of craft activities for children in the local library and other public events.

A book based on our research, How the Pershore Plum Won the War, will be published by the History Press and available for sale in time for the Pershore Plum Festival in 2016.

For further information about World War One in the Vale or to get involved, follow the project blog or contact me directly.