Motherhood, Loss and the First World War Conference

Date: 05 Sep 2018, 12:45 to 06 Sep 2018, 17:00

Conference venue: Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU (exact locations vary – see IHR website)

The Motherhood, Loss and the First World War project acknowledges the universality of bereavement as the defining experience of the First World War with a special focus on the impact on mothers — an overlooked aspect of grief from the period. Visit the project page to find out more.

In partnership with the London Centre for Public History and the Institute of Historical Research (IHR), Big Ideas is organising a Motherhood, Loss and the First World War conference on 5 and 6 September 2018 at Senate House in London. Historians and community groups will come together to explore maternal bereavement and the impact of the war on mothers. On 6 September, a panel discussion will be held with community groups that have taken part in the project, discussing the impact of community commemoration projects.

View the Conference programme here. Please note that the details are subject to change.

Community groups across the UK can apply for travel bursaries to attend the conference. Please email for further information and to apply. Funding is limited so we recommend applying early.

Free evening events

Keynote Speech – 5 September

Public Lecture

Venue: IHR Wolfson Conference Suite, NB01/NB02, Basement, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Time: 18.00 – 19.30   |   Price: Free but ticketed event

This lecture, National Service, Personal Sacrifice: The Cultural Politics of Mourning Mothers during and after the First World War, will be delivered by Susan R. Grayzel. It will explore the varied voices of mourning British mothers during the First World War in order to uncover how they represented their national service and intensely personal sacrifice in their deepening engagement with public political debate. 

Evening performance – 6 September

Public Event

Venue: The Chancellor’s Hall, First Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Time: 18.30 – 19.30  |  Price: Free but ticketed event

Join us for an evocative evening of musical performance and readings exploring the experiences of mothers bereaved during the First World War. Through newly-composed pieces by acclaimed violinist and composer Clare Connors, and powerful readings bringing to life the voices of mothers and their sons and daughters serving in the military, this performance explores their relationships, and the experience of a mother losing their child.

Join the project

A free resource pack and digital pack of letters between mothers and sons, alongside an expenses scheme for small-scale funding, are available for groups across the UK to get involved in Motherhood, Loss and the First World War. Read more about the project here.

To get involved in the project, email or visit the take part page for further information.

Motherhood, Loss and the First World War is led by Big Ideas and funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), with additional funding from a National Lottery grant from the Big Lottery Fund to work in the Home Nations.