State-of-the-art Herts at War online archive for county’s First World War memories boosted by £99,800 National Lottery grant
PUBLISHED: 14:57 27 March 2017 | UPDATED: 15:22 27 March 2017
Herts historians marking the First World War’s centenary are to craft a state-of-the-art online archive after today receiving a £99,800 National Lottery grant.
The volunteer-led Herts at War project A Digital Legacy will create a free and easy-to-use digital platform housing an electric archive, bringing thousands of documents, photographs and artefacts to the public for the first time.
It will be coupled with a travelling exhibition to inform and educate the wider public about the wartime experiences of Herts’ people, both at home and abroad – and the call for volunteers is set to go out when the project officially launches next month at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield.
Herts at War chairman Jon Gaunt, who is also head of history at Letchworth’s St Francis’ College, said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the National Lottery in launching this innovative new legacy project for the Great War centenary.
“Our previous work has identified a huge untapped resource of fascinating history that members of the public hold in lofts, basements and many other places around Hertfordshire, much of it unseen for years.
“This volunteer-led project will identify, interpret and digitally preserve these collections for the first time – and, in doing so, will form an easy-to-use and important archive of new material.
“This will help shape the way we think about the Great War and its impact for many years to come.”
The grant to help connect the men and women of 100 years ago with the relatives and community of today has come from the Heritage Lottery Fund through its Our Heritage programme.
Herts at War volunteer Dan Hill, from Letchworth, said A Digital Legacy provided a great opportunity to build on the programme’s success so far and preserve memories of the Great War for future generations.
Dan said: “The plan for the whole team is to build on the success of Herts at War and try to address areas that we feel deserve further investigation.
“In the last two years we’ve had a huge number of people come forward with amazing collections of history, and it’s these collections that have been the driving force behind the new digital project.
“Over time the number of these collections is declining, and we want to arrest that. It’s these personal family collections that really bring the Great War to life for so many people. It highlights the impact for people that have lived in the same streets and the same towns as us.
“We want to digitise and share all this as well as continuing with the programme of events and exhibitions that highlight the story of the county in the Great War.”
He added: “This is for the community, created by the community, and we want to reflect that in everything we do.
“We’d like to thank all the members of the public who have been instrumental in supporting the programme ever since it started.”
The exact date for the formal launch of A Digital Legacy is yet to be confirmed – for updates see hertsatwar.co.uk or facebook.com/hertsatwar, or follow the project on Twitter using the handle @herts_at_war.