This project is now closed

Motherhood, Loss and the First World War

Motherhood, Loss and the First World War acknowledged 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. The project was in partnership with Royal Holloway University of London and the Institute of Historical Research.

Motherhood, Loss and the First World War shared community-researched stories of women bereaved during the First World War, bringing to light their experiences and invited communities across the country to remember them. The project had a special focus on women’s groups to discover these stories and to respond to them in creative and meaningful ways, empowering isolated women by connecting them with their community, and developing citizenship, civil society and advocacy skills. It also brought light to new areas of historical research into the impact bereavement had on societies in Britain during and after the First World War.

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Read more news about Motherhood, Loss and the First World War here.


Academic and Community Conference held for Motherhood, Loss and the First World War

On 5 and 6 September 2018 historians and community groups came together for the Motherhood, Loss and the First World War conference at Senate House to explore maternal bereavement and the impact of the war on mothers. The conference was led by Big Ideas in partnership with the London Centre for Public History and the Institute of Historical Research (IHR).

The conference uniquely brought together academics and community groups exploring this subject. Several community groups attended and exhibited work, including Believe in Me CiC, Scottish Storytellers, Harrow Women’s Group, Yoruba Language Group, United Anglo Caribbean Society, Write-London and Heddwch Nain/ Mam-gu – Our Grandmothers’ Peace.

You can read more about the conference and the groups that took part here.

An example case study

Mrs. Gunn’s son, Private John Alexander Gunn died in action during the Battle of Somme in on 14 November 1916 when he was 31. While on active service John Gunn made botanical notes, and in his memory his mother had them professionally published into a pamphlet after he died. She also included a letter in the pamphlet written to her by Prive Gunn’s officer, which praised Private Gunn as being hardworking and intelligent. When the war memorial was unveiled in Mrs. Dunn’s home of Bromley, she could not stand to go.

Mrs Christian Donaldson Gunn, Bromley, Kent

Click here for your free resource pack with more case studies >

How you can get involved in Motherhood, Loss and the First World War

Even though the project has ended you can still access our high quality free resources by clicking the button below.

Keep up-to-date with the project

You can share your stories with us and how you’re getting involved on social media using #MothersWW1.

 @Big_Ideas_Co          Big Ideas        _bigideas

  MothersWW1 Facebook group

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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. Motherhood, Loss and the First World War is part of Remember Together, which brings diverse communities together to commemorate shared – and often sidelined – heritage, bringing significant marginalised heritage into the mainstream.