Community groups and researchers UK-wide, who gathered data on their WW1 fallen heroes, are being invited to upload their research to an interactive map which marks the streets where service personnel and their families lived.
‘Mapping Loss: Communities in War and Peace’, an initiative by Lancaster University, will be officially launched on November 11 2020.
“It would be wonderful if people across Britain could check their home addresses on Armistice Day and discover this link to the past,” explained team member and historian, Dr Corinna Peniston-Bird.
The hope is that, at the click of a button, viewers will be able to search the map of their locality by street (or surname or school) for details of war casualties, along with information about their next of kin.
The map allows users to understand the impact of the losses on the families and communities left behind.
The initiative draws on a unique University project, launched in 2016 and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which was part of the WW1 Centenary commemorations.
At that time the University team worked with the Lancaster Military Heritage Group and the King’s Own Regiment Museum to launch the innovative and highly successful ‘Streets of Mourning’ project, which mapped the names of Lancaster’s WW1 dead onto a street plan of the city showing exactly where they and their survivors had lived.
Now the team have extended the project to make the mapping facility available to researchers across Britain, and to preserve their research into the lives of the dead and the survivors for the benefit of users for years to come.
All contributors have to do is to upload a spreadsheet listing first name, surname and street address (obligatory), along with any other data (optional) they wish to be displayed through the map.
The software then maps the information onto a current map of the locality with ‘pins’ that, once ‘clicked on’, show any other details about the person that have been uploaded – all cleverly linked to the address and name.
Contributors can see recent pilot projects with datasets from Lancaster, Chorley and the Lancashire villages of Galgate and Ellel recording information about the fallen from both WWI and WWII for posterity, by going through the University webpage ‘Mapping Loss: Communities in War and Peace http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/greatwar/
Adam Cree, a history teacher who spent many years researching the local impact of the First World War in Chorley, described seeing his pain-staking research mapped for the first time as ‘so amazing!’
One of many touching stories Adam researched and now safely recorded on the Chorley map, is that of Ernest Shaw, a bottle washer at the mineral works, wife Ellen and son Thomas, born in 1913, who lived at 36 Jeffrey Street in Chorley.
When the Armistice was announced on 11 November 1918, Shaw was serving in the 2nd King’s (Liverpool) Regiment. He did not survive to see the peace. Ernest died of pneumonia and malaria at Salonika at 2pm that very afternoon.
“We would love to ensure that all projects completed in towns and villages across Britain over the last six years have this way of sharing and visualising their data for the use of families, schools, researchers, and genealogists locally, nationally and, indeed, internationally,” explained Dr Corinna Peniston-Bird.
“Most of the projects we’ve researched across Britain have collected data on the soldiers from their localities but they haven’t been able to map them to give any idea of the impact on a street or community. So that’s the gap our mapping project hopes to fill.
“We’ve been struck at how significant the Centenary of the First World War has remained and now, with this resource, there is nothing to stop any community adding their research on their local war memorial or Roll of Honour, so the map and its uses can keep growing.”
Head of the University’s Department of History and a key member of the project team Professor Ian Gregory agreed: “The Streets of Mourning project has really captured the imagination of the public and provided a highly practical resource.
“With ‘Mapping Loss: Communities in War and Peace’ we wanted to enable other people easily to map the data they gathered so others can see it. This new project provides long-term access, and we look forward to working with communities across Britain to visualise their research.’
For further details on how to join the project go to http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/greatwar/; if you have any questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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